A Strong Independent Woman's Guide to Self Defense

Every woman should be able to defend herself in a physical altercation. At first, it may seem simple: act fast, hit hard and get out of there. But in the moment, your adrenaline is pumping and you’re scared.  

Each situation is different. Sometimes you have enough time to ask them to back off, and other times you must physically defend yourself right away. Remember, before you start hitting someone, they must pose a clear threat to your safety.  

What do you do if you get attacked? 

1. Get Loud

Remember, your voice is your first line of defense and the easiest to use. If someone is not getting the message that you want to be left alone, you can make a scene. Start shouting crazy things at them. “Back off or I’ll rip your eyes out and eat them raw!” is a strong enough threat to show the stranger that you are someone who shouldn’t be messed with. 

2. Try to Get Away 

In the moment, it may be tempting to turn around and throw a punch in your attacker’s face. Your attacker may know how to deflect your poorly calculated punch in a way that puts you to the ground. Fighting back is difficult from the ground, so before fighting back, you should always try to escape. Squirm and shake to loosen your attacker’s grip on you. If your attacker has put you in a bear hug, get low and try to squirm out. The more compact you make your body, the harder it is for your attacker to get a hold on you.  

If they grab your wrist, use your free hand to grab their wrist. In a swift motion, turn yourself 180 degrees while turning the palm upward. The momentum from you turning your body will knock the stranger off balance long enough for you to get away.  

3. Hit Hard 

When you are being attacked, your goal is to hit soft tissue as hard as you can. Great spots to hit include the ears, eyes, nose, jugular and groin. Punch your attacker in their ears, nose and jugular if your arms are free. Use your knees to hit them in their groin and knees. Use your thumbs to press into your attacker’s eyes. If you have something in your hand, use that in place of your thumbs. Use your elbows to beat your attacker’s jugular or the side of your attacker’s head.  

If you end up on the ground, use the strength of your legs to your advantage and kick your attacker in the face. If you were attacked from behind in a “bear hug," get low and use one of your legs to swing behind the attacker’s leg. This will knock them off balance and give you a chance to slide out of their grasp. If you are choked from behind, bend your knees and stick out your butt. This will get the attacker on your back so that you can whip them onto the ground.  

If you are unable to get away, curl yourself in a ball. You are difficult to hold onto if you are compact. These methods can be used in a variety of ways during an attack. There is no right or wrong way to defend yourself.  

Seek Help 

After an attack, it is important to seek help. Call the police and file a report. Though they might not be able to find your attacker, it’s important that they know that you were attacked.  

If you are hurt, see a medical professional as soon as possible.   

Other Safety Tips

1. If you chose to carry pepper spray, test out your pepper spray at least once a year to make sure it is not clogged. 

2. Carry an object with you that you can use to harm an attacker. In college, my mom carried a spoon with her at night. She kept it in her jacket pocket. Why didn't she carry a knife or a fork? Sitting on a spoon is less painful than sitting on a fork. 

3. Travel in well-lit and highly traveled areas.  

4. Be present when walking. Don’t wear ear buds and refrain from absorbing yourself in your phone. Be aware of your surroundings. Do keep your phone in your hand. If you find yourself in a physical altercation, the side of your phone can be used to push into your attacker’s eyes. 

Overall, being safe on campus is as easy as using your voice when you feel uncomfortable. If the situation escalates, focus on getting away. If you have to fight back, hit soft tissue areas hard. Remember, every strong independent woman should be able to defend herself. Share these tips with your friends!

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