It is an unfortunate fact that one in every six American women experiences an attempted rape at some point in her lifetime. On average, more than 320,000 people are victims of sexual assault each year in the United States. 90 percent of these victims are women.
If you are a woman, it is a good idea to know some techniques to keep yourself safe. Pepper spray and other such products are useful deterrents, and if you have access to one during an attack, you should use it (discover more here). But if you are attacked, you may need to fight back physically.
Below are ten self defense techniques that will help you stay safe in the event of an assault.
Project an Air of Confidence
The first thing you can do to either prevent or ward off an attack is to look confident. Attackers keep a predator mindset. They’re more likely to go after the weak-looking prey who is less likely to put up a fight.
When you’re walking, especially alone or at night, stand up straight, square your shoulders, and walk with purpose. Don’t be on your phone, as this can distract you from your surroundings. Keep your chin up, and keep a focused eye on the area around you.
If you feel you are in a threatening situation or if a potential attacker approaches you, don’t drop your confident stance. Keep moving if possible, meet the assailant’s eye, and do your best not to show fear. Tell the assailant in clear, firm tones to leave you alone, and do not back down if they challenge you verbally.
If an attacker begins to get uncomfortably close to you or makes a move to strike, your next line of defense is your voice. Most attackers don’t want to go after someone who will cause a scene and draw attention. And you should never underestimate the instinctive human response to authority – telling an attacker loudly to back off may work more often than you think.
If an assailant gets too close to you, yell at them to get away from you. This is not the time for manners or your inside voice. As loudly as you can, yell at them to back off, and if they do not do so, keep doing everything in your power to make a scene or attract attention.
It is an interesting and unfortunate truth that more people will respond to the alarm, “Fire,” than, “Rape.” If your attacker is still not backing down, begin screaming that there is a fire. Keep screaming even if you have to fight back – the volume will give your blows extra force.
Go for the Eyes
An attacker’s eyes are one of the most vulnerable points for you to attack. They are unlikely to be protecting their face, and if you can blind them, it may give you a chance to get away. If you have told your attacker to back off and they are still coming for you, when they get close enough, jab for their eyes.
Keeping your fingers stiff, try to drive your fingertips into their eyes. Again, this is not the time to pull the blow or be gentle. Jam your fingers into their eyes as hard as you can; even if you don’t hit them, they will probably jerk away from this attack.
Use Your Knees
Depending on how your attacker comes at you, you may or may not be able to straight up soccer kick them. But you should be able to knee them, even if they have you pinned to the ground. Your knees are a powerful weapon, and in the event of an attack, you want to be sure to use them.
If the person attacking you is a man, do your best to knee him in the crotch. A blow to the family gems can put him on the ground for at least a few moments, giving you time to get away. (As a side note, if you have an opportunity to grab his testicles, take advantage of it; hook your fingers in behind his balls and yank as hard as possible.)
If you are on the ground, try to knee your attacker, again in the crotch if possible. If you’re standing, stay low to the ground, keep both knees bent, and put as much force behind the blow as you can.
Again, don’t forget to yell as you deliver the blow; this will put more force behind the hit, as well as attracting attention from someone who may be able to help.
Hit with the Heel of Your Hand
If you’re going to hit your attacker with your hands, striking with the heel of your hand can be devastating. For one thing, you are less likely to injure your hand doing this. For another, you can put more force behind the blow, and an upward strike can knock an attacker back for a moment.
If you can get to your attacker’s face, try to drive the heel of your hand into his nose. This will at the very least make them pull back for a moment, giving you a chance to run. It’s also possible that you may break their nose, or even cause them to fall unconscious.
If you are going to throw a punch, make sure you’re using proper technique. Done improperly, a punch can leave you with a broken hand, which makes it that much harder to fight off an assailant. No matter how you go about it, a punch is going to hurt your hand, but there is a technique to minimizing injury.
First of all, make sure your thumb is not tucked into your fist. You may have seen that done in movies, but it is the quickest way to break a thumb. Tuck your thumb outside your curled fingers, and if you have a ring on, drive that towards your attacker.
When you deliver the punch, act as though you are going to punch through your attacker, rather than punching and drawing back.
Put all the weight you can behind it – if you’re far enough away, throw everything from your shoulders to your hips into the blow. This will help you make the biggest impact when the blow is delivered.
If you’re in a physical fight, you want to make sure your center of gravity is as low to the ground as possible. If you’re shorter than your attacker, you may already have an advantage over them in that regard. But make sure you maximize that advantage by staying low to the ground.
Keep your knees bent and your feet planted firmly on the ground. This will help keep you from being knocked down easily and will give your blows more force. This can also put you in a good position to break a bear hug hold if your attacker attempts that.
If you find yourself in a bear hug hold, drop your center of gravity quickly and wriggle hard until you slip out of your attacker’s grasp. Your goal is to be as hard to hold onto as possible. Having a lower center of gravity will help with that and will put you in a better position to deliver any hits you can.
Break a Choke Hold
If your attacker starts to choke you, your first instinct may be to grab their hands and pull them off your throat. You do want to break the choke hold quickly, as you only have a few seconds before you’ll get low on oxygen and begin to pass out. But trying to pulling their hands off your neck is unlikely to work.
Instead, try to get your thumbs under theirs. Pull only their thumbs back away from your neck. This is the weakest leverage point in their chokehold, and having your thumbs pulled in the wrong direction can be very painful.
If your attacker has their arm around your neck, tuck your chin into your chest as hard as you can. Then plant yourself firmly, get your hands under their arm, and push up as hard as you can at the same time that you drop your weight.
This should help you slip out of their grasp and give you a chance to deliver a blow or escape.
Get Off the Ground
If your attacker knocks you to the ground and pins you down, the most important thing to remember is not to panic. There are ways to break those holds, and losing your cool will only make it harder to fight back.
If your attacker has you pinned on your back, they will likely be sitting across your hips. Tuck your feet in as close to your hips as you can, plant your feet firmly on the ground, and in one motion, thrust your hips up and to the side.
This should dislodge your attacker, giving you the opportunity to elbow them hard in the stomach and them roll up to your feet.
If you are pinned on your stomach, pull your dominant hand in close to your ribcage. As quickly and with as much power as possible, push against the ground, rolling you and your attacker backward. Again, deliver a blow to the sternum if you can, and get back on your feet.
Get Away As Soon As Possible
If you are attacked, the most important thing that you can remember is that your number one goal is to escape. You are not trying to beat your attacker into a pulp. Your entire focus should be on escaping and getting to somewhere where you can get help.
Now, that is not to say you want to abandon the fight if it is not safe to do so. If you can’t get a safe distance away from your attacker yet, keep fighting as hard as you can. If you have an advantage press it until you can escape.
But if you have incapacitated your attacker with a kick to the testicles, a blow to the sternum, or similar, and you have a window to run, take it. Do not stay in a fight that could turn against you for longer than you must. As soon as it is safe to do so, run away and get help from the nearest available source.
More Self Defense Techniques
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