On average, almost half a million women are raped or sexually assaulted in the United States every year. More than 80 percent of women report experiencing sexual harassment in their lifetimes. With those sorts of statistics, it’s a horrible truth that many of us may have to fight off an attack at some point in our lives.
Women’s self defense is a critical skill for keeping yourself safe if you do run into danger. Read on to learn what to do if you find yourself in a dangerous situation and how you can fight your way out.
Trust Your Gut
The number-one thing you can do to help defend yourself against an attack is to trust your instincts. If someone is making you uncomfortable, do not be afraid to take steps to get to safety. Of course, an unprovoked attack isn’t okay, but you’re perfectly justified in leaving the situation or calling for help.
Too often, we’re afraid of coming across as rude or hurting someone’s feelings if they don’t truly have bad intentions. But the cold, hard truth is that no amount of hurt feelings are worth your life. Don’t be afraid to tell someone to back off, to cross to the other side of the road, or to say no if you’re getting a bad feeling from someone.
Be Confident and Cautious
If you do find yourself in a threatening situation, it’s a good idea to present yourself as confidently as you can. In general, predators tend to go after victims that they believe won’t put up much of a fight. They won’t want the trouble of dealing with someone who is loud, confident, and willing to fight for herself.
If you’re walking by yourself at night, keep your shoulders down and back, hold your head high, and walk with purpose. If you sense danger, move away from it – cross the street, get to a well-lit area, or call for a police escort. Stay aware of your surroundings, and let your body language tell predators that you are not someone they want to mess with.
Use Your Voice
If a dangerous situation escalates into a confrontation with a potential attacker, your voice is one of your best first-line defenses. Like your body language, your tone and volume can tell an attacker that you aren’t going to go down without a fight. Be loud and assertive in telling them to back off, and don’t underestimate the power of a shouted “Stop!”
If you do get attacked, one of your goals should be to make as much noise as you can. For one thing, yelling when you hit someone can actually help your punches to land harder. But kicking up a fuss can get your attacker worried that you’ll attract attention, and they may give up on the fight early.
Keep Your Space
As you’re preparing for a fight, do what you can to keep some distance between you and your attacker. It takes your brain a bit to react to a sudden attack, and you need time to be able to respond. Keeping some space around you can give you that split second you need to respond and start fighting back.
If possible, try to keep about one and a half arm lengths between you and your attacker. If they start getting too close to you, yell at them to “Stop!” or “Back off!” If they keep coming after that warning, you’ll be ready to spring an attack on them and get away.
Don’t Get Fancy
When you’re fighting for your life, you’re reacting on instinct alone. Your motor skills aren’t as fine-tuned, your aim gets worse, and your coordination goes down. All of this means that, in a fight, it’s a good idea to keep your self-defense tactics simple and focused on giving you an opportunity to run to safety.
If you’re face-to-face with your attacker, try to hit their nose with the heel of your hand, striking upward. Jabbing your fingers into their eyes as hard as you can can also be very effective. And, of course, a solid knee to the groin can give you the chance you need to get away, so don’t be afraid to use it.
Once the fight starts, the number-one thing you need to focus all your energy on is continuing to fight. Many times, attackers are hoping they can wear you down and force you to give up. They want a fight to be quick, quiet, and minimal so it doesn’t draw a lot of attention.
Fight for as long as you possibly can to get away, and don’t let anything stop you from that goal. If you get dragged to the ground, keep fighting from there; most attackers aren’t very good ground fighters. Use the simple moves you have at your disposal, fight dirty, and fight with everything you have in you until you can make a break for it.
Run As Soon As Possible
In movies, we often see badass women beating would-be attackers into unconsciousness. But when you’re fighting for your life, your goal is not to knock your attacker out cold. Your focus should be on getting away and to safety as soon as possible, no matter what your attacker’s state is.
Often, attackers won’t pursue a victim who fights and then manages to get away. They already know you’re not going to go down quietly, and chasing you down could draw more attention. Do what you have to do to get away, and then run as fast as you can toward safety.
Learn More About Women’s Self Defense
Unfortunately, self-defense for women is a critical skill to know. If someone is making you uncomfortable, act confident, avoid danger if possible, and don’t be afraid to raise your voice. If you are attacked, keep your moves simple, keep fighting for as long as you can, and run away at the first available opportunity.
If you’d like to learn more about women’s self defense, check out the rest of our site at Hassett’s Jiu Jitsu. We offer classes that can help you learn how to defend yourself against even opponents who are much larger than you. Check out our Brazilian jiu jitsu classes today and start learning how to fight from the masters.