1. Mentally Prepare Yourself
Preparing for a violent attack is no different than preparing for any other emergency and denial can cost you your life. In the book You Are Not So Smart, author David McRaney tells the story of a couple who survived a large plane crash. The husband had mentally prepared for the emergency and was therefore able to quickly take action during the few moments between the plane hitting the ground and the explosion that followed, while his wife and the rest of the passengers were frozen by fear. He grabbed his wife’s hand and ran for safety, as everyone else sat in their seats unable to process the reality of the plane crash. By simply opening himself up to the possibility of danger, the man empowered himself to take action when the “unthinkable” happened.
Do you know what you would do if you awoke to a man in your bed trying to rape you? Have you ever allowed yourself to consider the possibility or do you hide from such thoughts? Force yourself to think about what you would do if someone were attempting to rape, kidnap or rob you. By mentally preparing yourself, you will be less likely to become frozen by fear and unable to defend yourself if the “unthinkable” were to happen.
2. Have a Plan
A black belt in martial arts isn’t required for you to defend yourself against an attacker. Take a self-defence seminar, or at the very least watch some videos online. Practice the techniques you learn and use mental imagery to plan a strategy for different scenarios. By contemplating threatening situations in this way, you are training your body and mind to act from a place of power instead of weakness and paranoia. Most importantly, train in a reality based self -defence system.
2. Follow Your Intuition
The best weapon you have is your sixth-sense. Although every animal is born with survival instincts, humans also have the ability to add judgment and everyday experience to our base intuition. This should make us superior to animals, but our judgment can sometimes get in the way. If we can’t explain our “gut feeling” in a logical way, we tend to brush it off as paranoia. By trusting your intuition, you will be able to learn the difference between real fear and worry. If you have a sense of foreboding, don’t second guess yourself. It is better to be safe than to ignore your instincts and become the victim of a violent crime.
3. Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Don’t talk on your phone or listen to your music player when you’re alone in a public place. Pay attention to what’s going on around you. If you think someone is following you, cross the street or step into a store. If that isn’t possible, look the person straight in the face and ask what time it is. By being unafraid, you show that you will stand up for yourself and fight back if attacked. You can also now identify this person in a line up and this makes you a less desirable target. Predators are very cunning and want to avoid as many risks as
4. Don’t Look Like a Victim
Predators go through a victim selection process. They are most likely to go for a woman with a ponytail, braid or long hair that can easily be grabbed. They also look for clothing that will be easy to remove quickly, like short skirts or anything with straps that can be cut. A woman who is distracted is also an easy target. You can make yourself a harder target by controlling your accessibility, setting and circumstance. Stay in areas with more people, walking with confidence and purpose. Don’t be distracted by looking through your purse or have your hands full of bags. Sometimes just looking like someone who is not to be messed with can deter a would-be attacker.
5. Be Car Smart
Predators target parking lots and cars to plan their attacks. Have your keys in your hand before you leave the building. For extra protection hold a few of them in between your fingers to use as a weapon if needed. Wait until you are close to your car to unlock it. If you unlock it from across the lot, someone can easily hop in and hide without you noticing. Once you’re in the car, lock the doors and start driving. Sitting in your car too long gives predators the opportunity to make their move. Also, if a van is parked on the driver’s side of your car, get in on the passenger’s side. The safest option would be to never walk to your car alone. If no one is leaving when you are, ask someone to walk you to your car.
6. Predict Dangerous and Controlling Behaviour
Realise that 99.9% of people have no intent of harming you; the rare few who do want to harm you will give clear signals. Most attackers don’t begin with brutal force. They begin by coaxing a woman into a secluded area and forcing her to relinquish her control. In his book The Gift of Fear, Gavin de Becker calls these signals Pre-Incident Indicators (P.I.N.S.). According to the book, not only will your instincts help you avoid dangerous situations, but you can also determine someone’s intent by knowing what to look for. These are the P.I.N.S. to look for, and examples of each. In the scenario, a woman is faced with a strange man in her apartment building.
Forced Teaming — When someone tries to pretend he has something in common or is in the same predicament as you when it isn’t true. (“Let me help you with those bags of groceries. We don’t want that ice cream to melt.”)
Charm – Being polite and nice to manipulate someone. (“I can’t let you carry all these bags by yourself. Let me help you get them inside.”)
Too Many Details – If someone is lying they add excessive details to make them seem more credible. (“I’m going to your floor anyway. I’m meeting a friend, but I’m running late – my watch stopped working. So, we need to hurry. Come on. We have a hungry cat waiting for this cat food.”)
Typecasting – An insult to get you to talk to someone you otherwise wouldn’t. (“There is such a thing as being too proud. Now stop being silly and hand me another bag.”)
Loan Sharking – Giving unsolicited help and expecting favours in return. (“I’ve carried your groceries up four flights of stairs; just let me put them on the counter.”)
Unsolicited Promise — A promise to do (or not to do) something when no such promise was asked for; this usually means the promise will be broken. (“You can leave the door open, I’ll leave as soon as I put the bags down, I promise.”)
Discounting the word “no” — Refusing to accept rejection.
During the entire grocery bag incident the woman repeatedly told the strange man that she didn’t want his help, but he ignored every “no”. She gave him control of the situation and was raped for three hours. The full story can be found in book, The Gift of Fear. The book also emphasises that “no” is a complete sentence and requires no further explanation.
8. Know Your Strengths & His Weakness
Your elbow is the strongest point on your body. If you get close enough, use it. If you end up on the ground, use your legs to kick free from your attacker. Go for his four weakest points: eyes, throat, groin and knees. If you are grabbed around the waist from behind, pinch your attacker under the arm, in between the elbow and armpit or in the upper inner thigh… HARD. You can literally pull the muscle away from the bone in these areas. If you are forced to comply before you can fight, grab his balls, then PULL, TWIST, YANK. He will be unable to rape you after being castrated.
9. You Have the Right to Fight
Don’t be afraid to fight if you feel threatened in any way. A decent man won’t approach a woman in a place that she would feel vulnerable, especially after she yells for him to stop. Statistics show that women who don’t resist are more likely to be assaulted and sustain more serious injuries than women who fight back. When under attack, adopt the Cobra Kai code “Strike first! Strike hard! Strike fast! No mercy!” Don’t wait for things to escalate. Your goal is not to stay and fight; it is to break away from your attacker so you can run for help.
11. Don’t Be Relocated
Do whatever you have to do to prevent getting taken to a secondary location. Predators need to get you away from people and to a location where they are less likely to get caught. Even if someone has a gun pointed at you, there is still a chance to get away. He isn’t going to shoot you with several witnesses around. His plan is to have a quiet, uninterrupted assault, not to go to jail. If he points a gun at you from a distance, run in a zigzag pattern. In the unlikely event that he does shoot, the chances of him hitting you are slim, and the chances of him hitting a vital organ are even less likely. Although you run the risk of injury, if you are taken to a second location, you are guaranteed injury or even death.
12. Stay Alert on Vacation
People on vacation are prime targets for predators, especially women travelling alone. Use valet parking if it’s available. The extra cost is well-worth your safety. Keep your hotel room locked with the deadbolt and chain when you are inside, and never let anyone in your room that you don’t know. If someone says they work for the hotel, call the front desk to confirm. Never leave an extra room key lying around for someone to grab when the maid isn’t looking. Also, never let anyone know that you are travelling alone. When you check in, ask for two keys and mention that your husband or boyfriend will be joining you soon. You never know who may be listening to your conversation.
13. Be Safe at Home
We all want to feel safe when we are at home. By being vigilant about preventing a violent crime from happening, your home will continue to be your safe haven. Take a few precautions, such as, keeping doors locked, even during the day. The one door most people forget is the door leading to the garage. If you forget to lock or close your garage, someone has open access to your home. Another deterrent is noise. Predators will avoid homes with alarm systems or dogs. If you don’t have a home alarm, keep your car remote beside your bed. If you hear someone breaking in, push the panic button to set off your car alarm.
14. Prevent Date Rape
Most women are assaulted by someone they know and 40 percent of the time the crime will happen in the victims own home. Predators rely on women’s weakness to allow good manners to override their survival instincts. Most women are likely to watch out for drugs being slipped into their drinks, and know to not be alone with someone they just met. However, the lines can get fuzzy when things become intimate. Do not be afraid to say “no” or stop at any point during an intimate encounter. You don’t need a reason. “No” is a complete sentence, and the man should stop immediately upon hearing it. If he doesn’t stop, he has crossed the line into sexual assault. If he has no ill-intent toward you, and the assault is more about him having no impulse control, you may be able to stop the assault by saying, “Don’t rape me”. Hearing the word “rape” may verbally shake him into reality. If, however, he continues, you must treat him as if he were a stranger on the street and fight with everything you have — because at that point, there is no possibility of it being a “misunderstanding”.
15. Staying in Groups
By staying in large groups and populated zones, you can limit the likelihood of a violent altercation/ confrontation. An example could be that taking that shortcut down the laneway to get home.
16. Use of Common Objects
Common objects can be utilised as self-defence tools when necessary. Unfortunately in Australia, tools such as pepper spray are not legal for civilian self defence use. As such improvisation is key. Use of a bag, keys, hair spray, deodorant are great common object tools to utilise when defending yourself. Other common objects such as umbrellas, sticks and even a mobile phone can be utilised very effectively to defend yourself and your property.
Of course the best self-defence is practise of an effective and reality based system consistently. There is no magic pill, facing the possibility of being the target of a violent crime is frightening, but there’s no need for women to live a paranoid-filled life. Although you can’t control every situation, you can make smarter decisions, like avoiding unnecessary risks. Learn to trust your intuition and how to defend yourself. Make the phrase “I hit like girl” strike fear into every would-be rapist out there.