You’re walking home by yourself and you can feel your skin prickling into goosebumps in response to every sound. Your head turns in a double take at a moving shadow, and you quicken your pace when you pass anyone who locks eye contact with you.
Every woman knows this feeling. Whether you’re a city-dweller or you live in a quiet rural area, sometimes you worry how you would defend yourself against an attacker. Yet knowing what to do in these scary situations might ease your mind –– and potentially save your life.
Preventing an attack
To limit your chances, an article from Maryville University recommends walking with a group when you can. When you are alone, pay attention to your surroundings and keep the music or podcast from your headphones turned low enough to hear someone approaching.
Maryville University also recommends that you trust your gut and keep your distance from suspicious strangers. Lift your chin up and look confident because the more vulnerable you look, the easier a target you seem. Hide your valuables and keep your keys in between the fingers of your hand; that way, you won’t need to take time to fumble around your purse for them and they can function as a weapon if necessary.
David Erath has taught self-defense for over 20 years, according to his website functionalselfdefense.org. Erath says, “The goal of self-defense is not to win a fight. It is to survive and prosper without injury or damage.” Make as much noise as possible to attract attention. If you are attacked, don’t focus on engaging in the fight –– try to run away to a safe space as soon as possible.
In the worst case scenario, here are some defensive moves you can use to escape a violent confrontation.
Heel palm strike
The heel of your palm is the thickest and strongest part of your hand, and using it will limit the risk of injuring your fingers, according to ThinkLikeaBlackBelt.com. Aim for a weak spots on the attacker’s body, like under the chin or on the nose.
Kick to the groin
An explosive kick to the groin of a female attacker can hurt, but it’s especially effective for a male attacker. Aim for this pressure point when you can. Make contact with your knee or your shin (not your foot) for maximum power.
Escaping a choke hold
Twist in toward your attacker’s body so you can breathe. Grab the attacker’s hair to pull his head back and try to stun him by gouging his eyes or hitting his groin.
While you may want to naturally pull a purse away, the trick here is to lean into the momentum. If someone is pulling your bag off your left shoulder, step toward your left side and hit the attacker’s nose or throat with your right hand.
Escaping a grab from behind
If an attacker has you in a bear hug from behind, lower your center of gravity so he can’t pick you up. You can do this by spreading your legs and squatting in a sumo stance or pushing your butt into his hips and leaning forward. Then, stun your attacker by stomping on the top of his foot, hammering at his groin, or headbutting with the back of your head. You can also try prying his fingers back toward his wrist.