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Women’s safety and self defence

Women's safety and self defence
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‘Kick them in the you-know-whats, scream, and run like hell!’. That was my Mum’s advice on self-defence, back in the day. And very useful it has been too, on more than one occasion. While it may be very satisfying when it works, this response isn’t always practical. Staying safe is no joke and prevention is always best. Here is a reminder of ways to look after yourself out there – stuff we all know instinctively, but I know I’m often guilty of forgetting in reality. The occasional memory-jogger can only be a good thing …

What Makes you a Target

Getting inside the mind of an attacker may be the last thing you want to do, but understanding how they think can help you to avoid their attentions. Three things in particular make you an easy target:

  • Body Language – attackers look for weakness and your body language can communicate this very effectively, especially if you are feeling a little out of comfort zone. So stand up straight, hold your head high and swing your arms confidently as you walk
  • Lack of Awareness – headphones blaring, or brain engaged with texting or talking on the phone while you walk are all distractions from your immediate environment and make you easy pickings for would-be attacker. Stay alert
  • Poor Decisions – short cuts and that last parking spot in a dark corner may be tempting, but will potentially place you in the wrong place at wrong time. Make wise choices about where you go, always

What Not to Do

There are certain behaviours that make you vulnerable, so try to avoid acting in the following ways:

  • Getting into your car without checking to see that it’s empty first
  • Sitting in your car and faffing before driving off – some attackers say that this acts like an open invitation for them to slip into the passenger seat and join you
  • Getting into an empty train carriage
  • Fumbling for your keys as you stand by your car or door – get them ready in advance, and keep moving
Women's safety and self defence

Ways you Can be Proactive

How you react in a dangerous situation can make a significant difference to the outcome. None of us can predict our emotional response to any given circumstance, but if you have considered in advance ways in which you COULD react, your brain may just shift to auto-pilot and help you out. Take a moment to think about these things:

  • If, heaven forbid, you are abducted and find yourself in the boot of a car, try to kick out the back lights – you can them stick your arm through the hole and hopefully attract attention from other motorists, without alerting the driver
  • If your return to your parked car to find it next to a van, enter your car from the opposite side. Statistically, more serial killers abduct their victims by dragging them into vans as they enter their cars than by using any other method
  • Avoid stairwells when you can. Lifts aren’t great either, but are preferable. Stay safe in lifts by remaining close to the doors, not getting in with anyone you feel uncomfortable about and exiting immediately if you are joined by anyone you’re not sure about
  • In the unlikely event you are held at gunpoint by an attacker, run away if you are able. Even at relatively close range even the best marksmen have a low hit rate. A hyped-up attacker is unlikely to hit a moving target and even if he does, the wound is unlikely to be fatal
  • Curb your natural empathy, as attackers play on female sympathies to earn trust and get you to drop your guard
  • Keep your car doors locked whenever you are inside
  • Shouting ‘Fire’ generally attracts more attention than someone yelling ‘Help’
  • If you are being chased and know you won’t get away, hiding under a car can be a good way to escape – slide under and grab hard onto something and keep screaming. An attacker may attempt to pull you out but is likely to give up fairly quickly

Self-Defence Tips

Unless you have taken a self-defence class you will be reliant on your gut reactions to physically respond to any attack. Any attack you do make needs to be effective, or you may incur further wrath for your attacker, so choose your time and make it count. Do your best if you decide to respond physically, and keep the following in mind:

  • Poking an attacker in the eyes, hard, is an effective defence if you can catch an attacker unawares
  • The strongest point on your body is your elbow – if you get the chance to use it, then do
  • Punching in the throat is an effective way to restrict an attacker’s air supply and shock him into releasing you
  • The knees are another vulnerable point on the body – a swift, sharp kick here can send him  tumbling and may buy you enough time to escape
  • If you are attacked in your car you can try crashing it, gently, provided you feel safe enough yourself

 

 

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About Cally Worden

About Cally Worden

Seasoned freelance writer Cally Worden lives with her family and dog in a quiet corner of rural France. A love of the outdoors, and a fascination with her children's ability to view life with fresh eyes provide the inspiration for much of her work. Cally writes regularly for various websites and UK print publications on subjects as diverse as parenting, travel, lifestyle, and business, and anything that makes her smile.

Website: Cally Worden

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