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How To Stay Safe Against Attackers: Self-Defense Saves Lives

In the world that we live in today, we are unfortunately never completely safe. Along with the fear of getting the Coronavirus, we also have to be aware of the people around us.

Weeks ago, FSU and UF police issued a battery warrant for Vincent Steven Mickelsen, who inappropriately touched a female FSU student. It is also reported that he was seen following other female students at FSU after his first occurrence. Mickelsen has also been seen in Gainesville near Midtown.

This incident sparked anxiety in many college students. Some people began making TikToks regarding the incident — referring to the man as the “modern-day Ted Bundy.” These videos gained popularity quickly, which led to more awareness about the issue.

Since then, he has turned himself in to the Leon County Detention Facility and was charged with Battery Touch or Strike regarding the incident at FSU.

Though this information should give us peace of mind, we are left knowing that anything could happen. We are never entirely protected from situations of assault, rape, kidnapping and even murder.

However, we can take steps to increase our chances of survival. Learning self-defense techniques is essential for staying safe nowadays.

According to “Rape and Resistance” by Gary Kleck and Susan Sayles, “A woman who fights back gains an 86% chance of avoiding the rape and incurs little chance of additional injury.”

Self-defense saves lives. We can’t truly prevent ending up in dangerous situations, but we can learn how to escape them.

It is important to always carry something that can be used to defend yourself against predators. A good investment would be pepper spray.

Carrying pepper spray is just the first step. Knowing how to use it could save your life or the lives of others.

To begin, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the canister. Each one is different, and it would not be useful to be unfamiliar with yours during a time of crisis.

Locate the safety lock, and practice how to release it quickly. Keep repeating this motion until you can free the lock swiftly and confidently.

Many college students have pepper spray attached to their keys, which is a smart step towards safety. If the pepper spray is at the bottom of your bag, it would be troublesome to locate it in a fast manner.

When using pepper spray, you are going to be under a lot of pressure. It will be a scary situation. Try your best to aim the pepper spray as accurately as possible. The goal is to spray your attacker in the eyes so that you can escape.

Pepper spray can typically shoot from 6 to 10 feet, meaning that you can maintain distance between you and the attacker. If the attacker is striking you, it is difficult to do so. Use your hands and arms to protect your face, and use the pepper spray once you get the chance to do so.

Another great investment for self-defense is a personal alarm keychain. It is not a complicated device. It can be used by everyone — even children.

When the pin of a personal alarm is pulled, it initiates an alarm that is typically around 120 decibels or more, which is equivalent to a clap of thunder.

The noise will disorient the attacker, as well as get the attention of the people around you. By doing so, you have time to escape and get help from others.

If you’re ever in a situation where you don’t have pepper spray or a personal alarm, you still have one more weapon to protect you: yourself.

One of the most effective ways to hinder an attacker is the groin kick. Using your dominant leg, lift your leg off the ground and bring your knee upward. Extend your leg, slightly lean back and kick forcefully. Your foot or lower shin should hit the attacker in the groin.

If you are in close range with your attacker, use your elbows to strike. Bend your arm at the elbow and strike. Aim for areas such as the neck, jawline, chin or temple.

These tactics will hurt your attacker. However, you also need to know how to escape from when your attacker is hurting you.

To get out of an attack from behind, bend forward from the waist, shifting your weight forward and making it harder to be held back. Then, use your elbows to strike the attacker. Try to create as much space as possible.

To get out of a headlock, turn to the attacker’s side as much as possible to prevent choking. Using your hand that’s furthest away, strike the groin until you have enough space and mobility to escape.

To get out of an attack with no hands, use your knees and elbows to attack until you can free your hands. Again, aim for the neck, jawline, chin or temple.

For more information and techniques, self-defense classes can teach you everything that you need to know. They prepare you both physically and psychologically in the case of an attack.

The Gainesville Police Department is hosting a Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) class during the week of March 29-31

“RAD is a self-defense program designed specifically for women to provide safety awareness, prevention skills, and hands-on defense techniques.”

The classes are free for all participants, and COVID-19 safety precautions will be in place.

If you are interested in attending and would like additional information, contact: [email protected].

Although life can be frightful, learning self-defense can provide us with peace and confidence in times of uncertainty. Not only can we protect ourselves with these skills, but we can also help protect others in situations of danger. If we can all promote these skills, we can cultivate a more secure environment for everyone.

Hope Nguyen is a second-year journalism major at the University of Florida. She enjoys writing, photography, cheese fries, politics and One Direction.
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