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Kicka$$ Self Defense Tips

We hear reports on the news more often than we want about attacks, physical and sexual, happening to women and men, and we automatically think, “That could never happen to me”. Unfortunately, though we can hope it never will, there is always going to be that slight chance that it could happen. Being aware and being prepared are the best ways to prevent yourself from unconsciously getting into a situation where you might become a victim. An important thing to remember is that attackers are looking for vulnerable and unsuspecting victims. Here is a brief, yet effective, walk-through of what you can do to protect yourself from becoming a victim.

The term Situational Awareness is going to become your best friend when it comes to self-defense. This means that you are aware of your immediate vicinity and of the people and objects around you. Now, don’t view this as something you can switch on whenever you want, or as a chore; view it as game of life. We live in a society and generation of technology, which means that we are already at a higher risk of becoming a victim when we use them at the wrong times. Our cell phones, especially smart phones, can cause us to have a focus diameter of about 3 inches from either side of the phone. This is not a big enough awareness circle and causes us to be oblivious to our environment. Even without technology in front of us, too many people only focus on a few feet in front of them and usually with downcast eyes. You will notice when you walk across campus, most people, including ourselves, tend to not make eye contact with each other and instead look at the ground before our feet. Don’t do that! Make eye contact with every person you pass. That doesn’t mean “eyeball” every person you pass, just basically letting them know “I see you”. By making eye contact, you lower your chances of becoming a victim because you are showing the attacker, if present, that you are being observant of those individuals around you. To a criminal, a 115-pound woman is a less attractive, potential victim than a 200-pound man who is completely absorbed in his smart phone.

Another thing to consider, when you are walking on or off campus, is restricting your use of headphones. I know it’s nice when you are walking from place to place to have music playing through your headphones, especially if you are not in the mood to converse with others, but when you are alone, its like a neon sign for attackers. This takes away your hearing sensory, so if someone is sneaking up behind you, or following you, you might not know it until it’s too late. Now, if someone is approaching you from behind and it sets off those warning bells in your head, your main objective is to move away from the potential threat. When I say potential, I mean that people move in the same directions, especially on campus, so slowing down, speeding up, changing directions, and even turning around are great ways to see if someone is truly following you. Don’t worry about whether it is polite or not to turn around and look at the person behind you, just do it! By turning around, you get a view of the person and, if they set off alarm bells, evasive measures should be taken; like changing direction, speeding up your pace, identifying covers or barriers to put between yourself and the attacker, and also calling emergency numbers.

Most people know that walking alone at night is probably not the best option for you. However, some of you don’t really have a choice or your destination isn’t that far. Remember, campus security is more than happy to give you a ride home; it’s part of their job, so don’t be afraid or embarrassed to call them. If you feel confident enough to walk home, yet want some kind of means to feel safer while walking, carry pepper spray or mace. Of course to use it, the assailant has to be pretty close, which you don’t really want, but if they do get close enough to you, by spraying it in their eyes, it will give you time to get away, temporarily blinding them. Another thing you can do, yet you need to be careful about this one, is to be on the phone with a trusted friend, roommate, or family member. Now, the reason I said be careful with this one is because you don’t want to inadvertently draw attention to yourself as being vulnerable or get caught up in a discussion with the person on the other line. If you are going to use this option, what you need to do is explain to the person on the other line that you are walking alone, maybe at night, and for them to stay on the line with you. Have them be silent so that you can stay attuned to your surroundings, but also give them some landmarks or street names so that they can track you as you walk, in case something were to happen.

Here are a couple other things to consider when it comes to not placing yourself in a vulnerable, or potentially threatening, situation:

·      When you are walking alongside a building, move closer to the road or as far as you can away from the outside wall of the building. By doing this, you have reduced the amount of time you will have a blind spot of the approaching corner.·      Short cuts are not always a good thing. Whichever route you take, take whatever one is going to keep you in a crowd and/or in a more lighted area.·      When parking your car, either in a ramp or a parking lot, park in a well-lit area with little to no barriers or covers. For example, don’t park right next to a pillar in a parking ramp; it’s a blind spot that you can’t see around. ·      When you exit a store at night and walk to your car, look under the car to see if someone is either under it or on the other side of it. Another thing to consider is when you go to unlock your car, only unlock your door so that if someone is on the other side, they won’t be able to get in your car with you.  

Remember up to this point, the main goal is to be aware and to evade a potentially threatening situation. Now, what happens if you are caught unaware and an assailant has physically grabbed you? Letting an assailant get within touching distance is the last thing we want, but it happens, so you should be prepared to physically and vocally defend yourself. Be loud! And by be loud, I mean scream and yell at the top of your lungs. You want to get other people’s attention to what is happening to you. If people hear you and start to investigate it, your attacker is going to get nervous, and probably drop you and run. Biting, kicking, scratching, hitting, and punching are great ways to physically defend yourself and hopefully injure, or disorient, your attacker. When it comes to causing injury to an assailant, the most effective body parts to go for are the eyes, nose, neck, groin, knee, and legs. So, what do you do to injure these aspects of your attacker? Here are different moves or actions you can take in these areas:

·      Eyes – by scratching, or even clawing at the eyes, you can cause some serious damage to their corneas, even making them go blind.·      Nose – if you have the leverage and arm motions, what you want to do is basically break your attacker’s nose. This is how:  keep your hand straight with your fingers pointed up and together and tighten your arm. Next, take the heel of your palm and thrust up and into the bottom of their nose where their nostrils are. This will cause the bone in their nose to break and shift upwards towards their brain.·      Neck – basically with this, go for the throat or Adam’s apple by hitting and punching that area.·      Groin – ask any guy, and they will tell you that this is one of their most painful spots to be hit. Depending on how your assailant might be holding you, the best thing to do is use your foot to kick as hard as you can in that area. It will hurt even worse if you have high-heeled boots on.·      Knee – with this area, we go for the kneecap specifically. By kicking in a kneecap, you can dislocate or break it letting you get away and escape with little fear of them catching up to you.·      Legs – kicking anywhere in the leg can injure and slow down an attacker giving you a better chance of getting away.

Remember, in this moment, your one and only thought is to escape and survive. I know that sounds super morbid and overdramatic, but it’s really not. The moment your assailant has you under their complete control, your chances of actually surviving the time you’re with them is very, very little.

The U.S. Marines developed something called the Color Codes during World War II to help condition the soldiers for an attack. Later, Colonel Jeff Cooper modified them for the public to use to help them be more aware of their surroundings and pending threats. So, let’s recap using the different areas of color conditions. First code is Condition White, or known as the denial and oblivious stage. This is where people don’t think anything bad will happen to them, they are consumed by their different technologies, and they believe they can get themselves out of any argument or situation. This is the condition where most people become victims and the position attackers look for. Second code is Condition Yellow, which is known as the aware stage. This is where situational awareness comes into play, so basically being aware of your surroundings, making brief eye contact, and walking at a confident pace. When in public, this is the stage we want to be in. The third code is Orange Condition, which is known as the sharpened awareness stage. In this stage, you have realized that something could be wrong or dangerous; you start formulating an evasive plan and mentally start to prepare yourself for putting that plan into action or as the last possible option, being prepared for a confrontation. Remember in this stage, you are trying to do everything you can to escape the situation. The last and final code is Condition Red, which is known as the action stage. This is an immediate action or reaction when the threat has become real and evident. This is where you put your escape plan into legit action, taking cover or escaping from the threat, or as a last result, defending yourself against the criminal. An important thing to remember in this stage is that you need to block out the little voice that is saying “this can’t be happening to me” because it will cause you to lose time in your escape; time that you might need to get away.

The worst thing you can do is nothing. Do something! Anything really. Your main goal is to escape and survive. You need to have the mindset of having to do whatever it takes to survive. If you want to learn more about sexual assault awareness and self-defense, campus security provides training to any group on campus upon a request. However, there needs to be a minimum of 10 people for them to be able to hold a training session so encourage your friends, guys and gals, to go. The seminar takes about three hours to conduct. If you are interested, contact the Director of Security at 507-457-5555.

Winona Police Department (non-emergency):  507-457-6302

Security: 507-457-5555

Counseling Services: 507-457-5330



Meet Katelyn Murray: Originally from a small town in southeastern Minnesota, Katelyn is currently a senior here at Winona State majoring in Elementary Education. She has a passion for working with kids and wants to be a part of their educational growth and success. In her spare time, you can find Katelyn reading, writing for fun, binge watching Netflix, hanging with her family and friends, watching hockey, and shooting archery. Besides one day marrying Charlie Coyle from the Minnesota Wild, Katelyn’s goals are to finish her Bachelor's, get a teaching job near her hometown hopefully in a third grade English/Reading class, and eventually going on for a Masters degree.
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