As women, we are raised to be afraid. Aside from not trusting strangers, we learn to avoid certain types of adults, too, especially men who target women in parking lots, on dates and even in the workplace. Because so many women are the victims of a crime every year, learning female self-defense is not only necessary but also empowering. While society works on shifting the conversation from self-defense to preventing attacks from men in the first place, here are several things you should know to help protect yourself.
You Have to Practice
Self-defense cannot be mastered in a single class. In addition to physical skills, women must learn how to be more aware of their surroundings and identify potential threats before they need to attack. In many cases, learning how to be more self-aware can prevent attacks and spare women from both danger and trauma. Signing up for karate, MMA, kickboxing or other physical combat class can help you stay fit and hone the important skills necessary to protect yourself. Some of the most basic and effective self-defense moves for women include:
- The straight punch (jab)
- Groin kick
- How to escape a chokehold from the front and behind
- Throwing body weight and escaping “bear hugs” and other pinning maneuvers
De-escalation is the Best Defense
There are conditions that differentiate self-defense and assault, and often, it’s a very fine line between the two. Understand that women aren’t always going to be found innocent in attack cases, even if a man initiated the encounter. The more serious injuries a person sustains, the more likely you are to face criminal charges. Learning how to be assertive and shifting the conversation to de-escalate a situation can ultimately prove just as life-saving as many physical self-defense strategies.
Escape, Not Defeat, is the Goal
The purpose of self-defense moves is not to disfigure an attacker. In fact, you shouldn’t stick around and beat them as long as you can. As soon as they’re down, your first goal is to run and seek help immediately. Practical self-defense means that you remain aware of this at all times and you take other measures to avoid physical combat first. Your self-defense moves are to demobilize an attacker and get to safety, not to stay and engage in more physical contact than necessary. The longer you stay in a combative situation, the more dangerous it becomes. Some attackers might be scared off by a woman who can defend themselves, but others will only become more enraged and determined to harm you when they can get their hands on you again.
It’s Okay to Be Mean
Many women are afraid to stick up for themselves because they fear rudeness will only provoke an attack. You have every right to assert yourself confidently in a situation, and it’s okay to be “mean” by telling someone to leave you alone explicitly. You can also choose to ignore a stranger’s request, such as a man stopping to ask you for directions. You aren’t obligated to respond, and if the worst thing that happens is someone thinks you’re a jerk, so be it.
If you do wind up having to get physical, make sure you give the fight your all. Don’t think that getting hit or knocked down means it’s over. Your goal here is to survive, so put yourself first, and embrace all the strength inside of you to get away.
Now that you’ve read some safety tips for yourself, read more about some safety tips you can teach your kids: Enjoy the Ride: Bicycle Safety Tips to Teach Your Kids