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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Pomona chapter.

On March 5th, University of Washington student Marizela Perez was reported missing to local authorities, and the buzz surrounding her disappearance has reached a fever pitch.  Last seen in broad daylight at a local supermarket, Perez has yet to be found. While many different rumors are circulating regarding the events that took place two weeks ago and her current whereabouts, Perez’s disappearance called to attention a national issue: women’s self-defense and protection.

It is imperative that every woman knows basic self-defense mechanisms and is smart and alert about the choices she makes when out alone. After all, a smart, informed woman is a formidable force indeed. HC Pomona gives the rundown on the basics of self-defense divided by body area:

When apprehended by an attacker, go for the:  

Eyes: Repeatedly jabbing your fingers into an attacker’s eyes creates random flashes of light and can cause temporary blindness so you can run away and scream for help. Longer fingernails will cause more damage.

Face: Bashing your attacker’s face with your head can be effective when your limbs are tied.

Throat: Elbowing, punching or biting an attacker’s throat can be extremely debilitating. For male attackers, the Adam’s apple is a very sensitive area. (Keep in mind that a strong bite might fill your mouth with the attacker’s blood, which  may carry a number of infectious diseases.)

Fingers: Use one or both of your hands to grab an assailant’s finger, stretching it back towards the top of his/her hand. This will break his/her finger.

Groin: A good strong hit to the groin will stop any male attacker in his tracks. Many sources claim that kneeing someone in the groin is more effective than kicking, and would also make it easier for you to keep your balance.

Toes: The human foot contains a network of ligaments, tissue, and bone, all extremely sensitive to pain. Stomping on your attacker’s foot, hard, with your heel, can give you the time to run away.

A few more tips:

Seem confident: Attackers look for weak victims, so the stronger and unaffected you appear, the less appealing you will be. When walking through a dangerous area, be aware of your surroundings but do not look over your shoulder every few seconds. Walk briskly. Try to appear angry rather than scared.

Make a fake call:If you are close to home but have to pass through a dangerous street or area, pretend to be on the phone. Say things like “I’m almost there,” “I’ll be home very soon,” “Meet me outside.” Let it be known that you are expected and that if you don’t make it home soon someone will come out to defend you (even if that might not be true). Stay aware of your surroundings while talking.

Keys could make a good weapon:Hold your keychain in your palm so that the keys stick out between your fingers and form sharp teeth that can be used to jab at an attacker. When walking through a dangerous area or entering an unprotected building by yourself, have your key weapon ready just in case. The mere possession of such a defense devise will give you an air of confidence, which is of major importance when alone. Use your punching hand.

Use and lose your heels: Like your keys, your heels are sharp objects that can be used as weapons. Stomp or kick as hard as you can, or hold a shoe in your hand and use it to stab the attacker. As soon as you have caused damage and have gained some escape time, however, forget your heels and run barefoot as fast as you can.

Sources: http://www.googobits.com/articles/1254-basic-selfdefense-for-women.html http://www.womensdefensecenter.com/self1.htm Personal experience