The more barriers you have between you and an attacker, the better for you. A “barrier” is any physical object or space that protects you or prevents a situation from taking place. We often think of a barrier as being a wall, fence or other fortified structure, but you can employ barriers in other ways as well. We emphasize the two most obvious barriers; (1) Physical or Structural and (2) Space.
PHYSICAL OR STRUCTURAL BARRERS (3 RINGS OF PROTECTION) FOR YOUR HOME
Much of this information on barriers involves security while you are home, but it is also pertinent in other aspects as well. An obvious barrier is a locked door. That’s a good start, but let’s look at some other physical barriers and a strategy at how you can use these barriers to protect yourself. Let’s start at looking at your home. There are three (3) basic “rings or layers” of barriers (sometimes called “rings of protection”) that you can employ for adequate home safety. The first barrier is on the exterior of your home. More will be discussed on this subject later, but some basics to have are a good dead-bolt lock on all exterior doors, a solid wood or metal door that allows you access to look to the other side (a window or peep hole), good exterior lighting at your house and where you park your car and a reliable and a sturdy lock for your garage door. Notice that we mentioned light; a good physical barrier is light. Make sure your home is well –lighted on the exterior, especially at all entry points (doors, garage and anywhere else). Have your driveway lighted with a motion-detector light for security. Any walkways, sidewalks or pathways you and your family use should also be lighted. Make it a rule to lower your window blinds or shades after dark or when you are not home. Lock your front door even when you are home, and if you have your front door open when you’re home, lock the exterior (or screen) door. Think of your telephone as an exterior barrier for personal protection. A landline telephone may save your life. Some people are now having their landline telephones disconnected since they use their cell phones as their primary telephone. We don’t recommend doing this. That landline telephone is better in an emergency because the number you call from is shown on the dispatcher’s screen at the 911 center. While cell phone technology is improving every day, it still takes too long to triangulate or locate where the cell phone call came from. Your exact address is shown on the 911 dispatcher’s monitor on a landline call. Police have an exact address to come to. In a cell phone, even with the best technology today, police or other emergency personnel don’t have an exact address to respond to with a cell phone call to 911. More on calling 911 is discussed later, but make sure you stay on the line (if possible) with the dispatcher and describe the situation as calmly and accurately as possible. Make sure to immediately give a good, accurate description of the attacker. The second barrier is the interior of your home. Make sure you have a dead-bolt lock on your basement door or the door between your garage and house. Often, burglars gain access to a home through a basement window, and then enter the house by simply walking up the steps to the main floor. They also gain access through the garage door, and then enter the main part of the house through the door between the garage and the main house. Another thing to think about is to arrange your furniture in such a way that if an attacker gains access to the inside of your home, he does not have a “straight line” to you. Put objects in his way that will slow him down. A well-placed sofa, chair or table can look good in your front room and also serve as a deterrent if an intruder is in your home. The third barrier is your safe room. Have a “safe room” to go to if an attacker or intruder is in your home. This will most likely be your bedroom, and if you have children, designate which of their bedrooms is the “safe room.” This is where you will have a landline telephone to call 911. More will be discussed later on your safe room, but this room is your “last stand,” and as such, you should make sure it as secure as possible. If you think strategically using these three layers or “rings” of protection or barriers; an outside layer, middle layer and an inner layer, it might help prevent a situation from taking place or help you survive an attack.
SPACE BARRIERS OR USING DISTANCE FOR SELF-DEFENSE
From a point of view of personal protection strategy or providing a barrier using space, remember, the farther away the threat is from you, the better for you! There are five “Self-Defense Distances” and knowing how to use these distances to your advantage may save your life. Basically, this is the space between you and a possible (or real) assailant. The first distance is the (1) Unaware Distance. This is when you are unaware that someone is watching you. This often takes place when women are in a store or mall and an assailant is following, stalking or observing them without their knowledge. It is important that you always look around your surroundings, take precautions as outlined in this program and do everything you can to prevent an incident or attack from taking place. There are no guarantees in life, but if you do everything you can to keep from being a victim, this person watching you may pass by on you and go on to someone else who fits his profile of a victim better. The second distance is the (2) Eyesight Distance. In this situation, the assailant is within eyesight and you are aware of his presence. He may be stalking you, observing your movements or watching how you walk to your car and you are aware of it. If you observe an individual doing this, you need to take action and make sure you go to a location where there are other people or where you are safe. This is the time to call someone, or if you believe you are threatened, call 911. Don’t simply hope he “goes away.” Always assume the worst and don’t take any chances. The third distance is (3) Proximal Distance. Your space is starting to be violated. He is within 2 to 5 feet of you. He may have been following you and has closed the distance between you and him. He may be in the same room as you in a home invasion. In this situation, if there is a definite threat and you have a weapon, you may need to use it. This is also a situation, if he is close enough, that you would use leg kicks to fight him off. The fourth distance is the (4) Close Distance. An attacker is very close to you and has definitely invaded your personal space. He’s close enough to use a knee kick or other close-quarter fighting technique. A situation like this might be in a bar or other public place and a man has made unwanted advances and is too close for comfort. In another instance, he has closed the space and has approached you and may make physical contact. He may have reached out for you or is about to grab you. The last distance, and the one that is the most dangerous, is (5) Contact Distance. He has made physical contact with you and you must defend yourself if you can’t escape. As Department of Justice statistics show us, a large majority of physical assaults on women are initiated by a push or shove. The threat is real and the assault is happening. You have to fight to defend yourself!
Each of these distances requires a different, and specific, response of your part. Ranging from doing everything you can to prevent a situations, to being aware of someone watching you and taking responsive action, to a definite threat that is within five feet or so, then on to having your personal space invaded and ultimately, being physically assaulted and you having to defend yourself with every means at your disposal. What the point of all this is, that by having a personal protection strategy and applying it in your daily life, you may be able to better able to apply the skills learned in this program and have a better chance of surviving an attack.
CAN YOU NEGOTIATE?
A rule of negotiation is that both parties are bargaining from a position of strength. So, is it possible to talk your way out of a dangerous situation? Maybe, and statistics indicate that in a little over 11% of the reported cases, the victim successfully negotiated or appeased the attacker; but don’t count on it unless you have something he wants but can’t get unless you agree to it or you are in a strong position to dictate terms. You can’t talk your way out of a situation or assault if you have nothing to bargain with. If he’s in control, you’re in trouble. In fact, you may have “negotiated” already and never know it. If you carry yourself with a confident demeanor, be aware and observant of your surroundings and generally make it known by your body language, habits and behavior that you are being as careful and observant as possible, a would-be attacker may have passed by on you and gone on to look for another victim. Realistically, if a rapist has taken his victim to the ground and starts his assault, is it possible at this point for the victim to negotiate with him and talk him out of it? There is no indication that this will happen. You’re the victim, period. You’re in no position to negotiate anything. The situation has gone past the point of no return. The statistics on sexual assault and violent crime indicate that if you are unable to escape, then you must fight back in an effort to save your life. Some things, like your safety, are non-negotiable.
There are a lot of “what ifs” in self-defense. When doing self-defense seminars, workshops and classes, we get a lot of “what if” questions. Realistically, it’s rare for anyone to do everything right, even if you’re experienced in martial arts, have military training or law enforcement training. Also, an attack can happen at any time or at any place. We can’t possibly prepare for everything, but you can educate yourself on what to look out for as well as possible, and train yourself on how to react if confronted as well as possible, then you have a better chance than someone who doesn’t. The bottom line is that if you survive, you win. Expect the unexpected, and the best thing you can do is to mentally, emotionally and physically prepare as well as possible for the unexpected. An often “what if” that comes up in self-defense classes is “what if I’m attacked?” Understand that if you are attacked, you may incur physical harm and will certainly incur emotional harm. Realize that you must survive an attack and the most important self-defense technique you can do to survive is to think clearly! To be able to think clearly, do everything you can to prepare yourself before hand. This is “strength” in the real sense of the word. You may not be stronger, bigger or faster physically, but if you prepare, you might be able to survive by thinking as clearly and rationally as possible, then doing what is necessary to escape or defend yourself. It’s this inner strength that may save your life.
Stressful situations tend to “compress” time. It all happens so fast. In some cases, victims of an emotionally stressful situation forget what happened, either partially or completely. Physiologically, this is a defense mechanism we all have hard-wired into our brains. A good way to deal with all of this is to seriously think about what you would do, how you would react, and make up your mind to do anything necessary to defend yourself. You’ve already taken the first step by reading this information or attending a workshop. Attend as many self-defense, personal safety and martial arts classes, seminars or workshops as possible to educate and train yourself as well as possible. The more training you have, and understanding that any self-defense situation is stressful, the better you will instinctively react under stress to a self-defense situation. How you think, and what you think,directly determines how you react. Being as clear-headed as possible and realizing the seriousness of the threat will help you to better react to the situation.
RIGHT NOW, BEFORE WE GO ON, CHECK YOUR CELL PHONE
On some cell phones, you can go to “settings” then go to “location” and set your phone so that the GPS tracking system is on. If your cell phone doesn’t have this service, contact your cell phone company. Your cell phone can save your life. Many women in our workshops have asked us what type of weapon is best to carry. We answer “your cell phone.” We recommend you always carry your cell phone on your person and not in your purse. It’s important that you and your cell phone are not separated in an attack or confrontation. Keep your cell phone charged and on at all times. You may need it to call 911 and if you left it in your purse or in the car, then it won’t do you any good at all. If you do not have a cell phone, we highly recommend you get one.
WHAT TAKES PLACE IN AN ATTACK
We hope you’ve never experienced a physical attack and hope you never have to! But, we get a lot of questions from women in our workshops who want to prepare themselves as well as possible for such a situation and ask us about what actually takes place in a real assault. Obviously, not every physical attack happens the same way, but there are some definite things that take place. If you understand what may actually take place in a physical attack, you may be better prepared to react to it. What we’re talking about here is the actual, physical assault that can occur and in the time frame it may happen.
The attack is unexpected, sudden and a surprise. You usually never see it coming. The attack happens on his terms usually. You were selected as his target for any number of reasons, but he usually has planned the attack and the location of the attack is his place of choosing. He’s physically larger and stronger than you.
It’s sudden and physically violent. Almost 75% of all attacks to women start with a shove or push. The odds are very great that you will be physically abused and injured. In many cases of domestic abuse or “date rape” the attacker verbally abuses the victim before the physical assault. But in many cases, the first thing the victim is aware of is the sudden, unexpected, physical force of the attacker.
Time seems to be compressed. It all happens so fast! One of the reasons it seems this way is because violent attacks happen quickly and don’t last very long, but even then, it will seem like it’s unreal and happening way too fast. This is a psychological tool your mind uses to handle the stress of this violent situation. Some victims remember bits and pieces of the attack, while others remember nothing about it. Others may remember everything, and wish they didn’t.
You react instinctively, either good or bad for you. He’s taken you by surprise and you react instinctively and naturally. All the while, you don’t actually believe this is happening to you. You react instinctively. The attack physically takes place.
After the attack, if you survive, “shoulda, coulda” sets in. This is the feeling of guilt that you experience, telling yourself you should have done this or could have done that. If you allow this to happen, you will continue to suffer emotional trauma for a long time. Remember…you didn’t ask for this to happen and can’t change what happened, but you survived the attack; you’re alive.
YOU WILL HAVE TO MAKE SOME CHANGES IN YOUR DAILY LIFE. It’s a harsh reality that there are predators out there who have every intention of doing harm to any woman they can. They’re not going away, so you must do what you can to prevent a violent situation from taking place and becoming a victim. The information presented here is based on (unfortunately) real-world situations and statistics. This information is intended to educate and train you so that you can, and will, be more aware of how to prevent a violent attack from taking place and how to better prepare for such an attack if occurs.
GIVE UP ANYTHING BUT YOUR LIFE. You can always buy another car or cancel the credit cards that are stolen, but you can’t replace a human life. Do everything possible to avoid a physical confrontation, but do what you have to do to survive! You may have to fight back, and if you do, fight to survive.
Here are some tips that may come in handy...
NO MEANS NO. If you tell someone “no” that’s enough to let him know whatever he is doing, it’s time to stop and leave you alone. Don’t hesitate to tell someone no and don’t hesitate to be assertive when you say it.
MAKE SURE PEOPLE KNOW WHERE YOU ARE. Have a plan with your loved one(s) where you check on each other regularly. When you go somewhere, tell your spouse, mother or another person that you will call them when you get home or to some other designated location.
TRAVEL IN A GROUP OR WITH A COMPANION IF POSSIBLE. The odds of you being attacked are far less if you are with someone else. One woman is much more likely to be attacked than 2 women.
BE AWARE OF PEOPLE IN YOUR SURROUNDING AREA. BE OBSERVANT. When you travel anywhere or go anyplace, look around at the people in your surrounding area. Most women tend to look straight ahead when walking or driving a car. Make it a habit to “have your head on a swivel” and look around at other people and be aware of things happening around you. When exiting a building or your car, make it a habit to look to both sides and make a quick survey of the area. A good exercise to increase your ability to observe it to make it a habit to occasionally observe a person, and then describe him to yourself in your mind. What are his distinguishing facial or physical features? How tall is he and what does he weigh? What is he wearing? Does he have any tattoos, body piercing, jewelry or other features that make him stand out? This is a good exercise to do mentally in case you have to describe an assailant to the police. Remember; if you are attacked, you will be under stress and emotional, so doing this exercise can help you remember better when placed under stress.
IF YOU SUSPECT SOMEONE IS FOLLOWING YOU OR STALKING YOU, CALL SOMEONE ON YOUR CELL PHONE AND TELL HIM OR HER. Call a friend and tell him or her that you think there’s someone following you. Give a complete description and exact location and make sure they write down the information you give. If you are certain there is a stalker following you, call 911 right then and there, no matter where it is, even if it’s in a department store.
USE A CODE WORD OR PHRASE. Have a specific word or phrase worked out with other members of your family that you could use if in danger. This would be used in the event you are kidnapped and can’t speak in front of your abductor. Make sure that when this word or phrase is used, the person you say it to takes it seriously and you don’t have to repeat it. Using this word or phrase will cause your spouse or family to contact the police or take other emergency action necessary.
NEVER TURN YOUR CELL PHONE OFF AND NEVER LEAVE IT IN YOUR CAR. ALWAYS KEEP YOUR CELL PHONE ON YOUR PERSON. You may need to use it in an emergency. If possible, upgrade your cell phone so it has a GPS tracing system. On some cell phones, you can go to “Settings” and then go to “Location.” By turning on “location” you will allow your network to detect your position using GPS technology. Check your cell phone to see if you have this service.
WHEN CALLING 911, STAY ON THE PHONE WITH THE DISPATCHER. This could be your “lifeline” in an emergency. Give all the information possible to the dispatcher on the situation. Describe the attacker, what he looks like, what he’s wearing, his height and weight. Does he have any distinguishing features, scars or tattoos?
IF YOU ARE ACCOSTED, ATTRACT ATTENTION TO YOURSELF AND THE SITUATION. Yell or scream and do anything to get people to notice what is going on. Don’t be afraid to draw attention to yourself and the person who is bothering you. Yelling and screaming does 3 specific things. (1) It draws attention to the situation and yourself. (2) Yelling can give you more strength. In much the same way you grunt when lifting something heavy, yelling tends to give you a bit more “oomph” and can aid in defending yourself. (3) It can disorient your attacker. In many cases, a sexual predator has his little scenario scripted in his mind and anything that disrupts it can throw him off. Also, don’t yell “fire” unless it’s a fire. Some people believe that others will come to your aid more quickly if you yell “fire.” That’s not the case. If it’s not a fire, don’t yell that; yell or scream “help,” or anything else that will draw attention to the incident and describe what’s happening.
DON’T WILT FROM HIS VERBAL ABUSE. Expect an attacker to use verbal abuse and attempt to force you to comply with his demands. Don’t wilt from his pressure. He’s trying to control you as much as possible. It doesn’t mater what he says to you, what does matter is that he leaves you alone. If you don’t play the role of victim, it may save your life.
EVERYONE HAS HER OWN PERSONAL SPACE. IF SOMEONE IS INVADING YOUR SPACE, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. If someone gets too close to you, you need to react. If you don’t know someone, he doesn’t need to get close to you, whether it’s at a social function, at work, in the gym, in your home or in a parking lot. Draw attention to the situation if you are uncomfortable. If he invades your personal space, he may be a physical threat to you. There’s no law that says you have to be polite if he invades your space and gets too close to you. If he’s too close, tell him and don’t be shy about it. Another thing to consider; when someone comes to your front door and knocks or rings the doorbell, see if he steps back a few paces from your door. Most door-to-door salesmen know to do this to show that they are not a threat and to allow you to have a better look at them from a window or peephole. Look out your front door window or peephole and if he hasn’t stepped back, he may be a threat, so don’t open the door.
AVOID DARK PARKING LOTS, GARAGES AND OTHER LOCATIONS IF YOU ARE ALONE. Have a security guard escort you to your car if you work a late shift. Arrange with others to park close together and walk to your car in a parking garage as a group. Park only in lighted areas if possible. Park as close to the entrance of the place you are visiting or shopping. If a security guard can’t escort you to your car, have a store employee walk you to your car if possible.
DO NOT GO ANYWHERE WITH SOMEONE YOU MEET AT A SOCIAL GATHERING, PARTY OR BAR. DON’T INVITE ANYONE TO YOUR HOME UNLESS YOU KNOW HIM. This has nothing to do with your personal life other than being cautious. Another good point is to not become intoxicated in a public place. Being prudent isn’t being a prude.
WHEN DRIVING OR PARKING YOUR CAR
NEVER, EVER PICK UP A HITCH HIKER! Don’t hitch hike or accept a ride from anyone, male or female, that you do not know well. Never pull your car over if someone drives alongside and is pointing to your tires indicating they may be low on air or going flat. If this happens, drive to a populated and well-lighted place and then inspect your car tires.
NEVER LEAVE YOUR CAR UNLOCKED, EVEN FOR A FEW MINUTES. NEVER LEAVE YOUR CAR RUNNING WHILE GOING INTO A SHOP, EVEN FOR A MINUTE. Never leave your child unattended in your car. It may be inconvenient, but take the time to take your child with you and always lock your car when you leave it. NEVER LEAVE YOUR CAR UNLOCKED, EVEN IN YOUR GARAGE AT HOME.
IF YOU ARE CARJACKED, COOPERATE TO A POINT. If it is obvious he only wants your car or valuables, cooperate. You can get another car, but if you sense that he will do physical harm to you or your children (if they are in the car with you), you must resist. An example: If you are carjacked and in the process he will abduct your child who is in the child car seat, you must decide if you are going to let him take your child. The obvious answer is “no” and you must resist to the best of your ability. Even throwing your keys away will deter your attacker from taking your car and abducting your child. If he wants to steal your car, let him have it, but if he wants you or your children, you must resist. Do anything to resist being abducted or allowing your child to be abducted!
WHEN DRIVING, ALWAYS HAVE YOUR CAR DOOR LOCKED AND WINDOWS UP. When stopped at a traffic light (or anywhere for that matter) and someone approaches your car, do not lower your window for any reason and if you sense danger, pull your car out of line and drive away.
PLACE YOUR PURSE ON THE CAR FLOOR OR IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CAR AND NOT IN THE PASSENGER SEAT. A purse that is placed on the passenger side floor is lee likely to be seen and stolen. Never leave your purse in your car unless you lock it up in your trunk (be careful when you do).
DON’T ALLOW YOUR FUEL TO GO BELOW HALF A TANK. You sure don’t want an empty gas tank and have to walk to a gas station. You might even have to drive for some distance to escape a situation. You never, know; so keep enough gas in the tank just to be safe.
KEEP YOUR CAR IN SOUND WORKING ORDER. Keep your car tuned up. You might have to rely on it to escape a situation.
BE OBSERVANT WHEN AT A GAS STATION. Most gas stations are usually self-serve these days, so pay attention to everything around you when you pull to the gas pump and when pumping gas into your car. Lock your car door even when you are pumping the gas, and make sure to have your keys in your pocket. Don’t place your keys on the car when pumping gas and don’t put them in your purse. It’s too easy to grab the keys off the car or grab your purse when you’re pumping the gas. As you pump the gas, keep looking around. If anyone approaches you, you will have a better chance of running inside the gas station if you see him. If you don’t see him and he assaults you, do everything you can to run into the gas station. In this case, that locked car door and the keys in your pocket can prevent him from abducting you and stealing your car.
IF SOMEONE TRIES TO FLAG YOU DOWN OR GET YOU TO STOP BY THE SIDE OF THE ROAD, CALL 911 AND DESCRIBE THE PERSON AND THE CAR. Tell the dispatcher your location and that there is a stopped or stalled car at that location. Give the dispatcher a description of the person and the car and as accurate of a location as possible. If the person who tried to flag you down is legitimate, you’ve done that person a favor by contacting the authorities. But if he isn’t legitimate, you’ve done yourself and other people a favor by contacting the authorities!
BE OBSERVANT WHEN DRIVING, DON’T LOOK STRAIGHT AHEAD ALL THE TIME. Statistics show that most women tend to look straight ahead when driving. By doing this, you are not aware of your surroundings. Look around; see who’s in the car next to you, behind you or in your corners. We’ve discussed being observant already, but it’s equally important to be observant when driving in your car.
WHEN STOPPED IN TRAFFIC, LEAVE AT LEAST A HALF OF A CAR’S LENGTH BETWEEN YOU AND THE CAR AHEAD OF YOU. LEAVE ENOUGH ROOM TO BE ABLE TO SEE THE TIRES OF THE CAR IN FRONT OF YOU. Don’t get boxed in between cars in front and behind you. Leave enough room to steer your car out and get out of a potentially dangerous situation.
WHEN STOPPED AT A TRAFFIC LIGHT, IN A PARKING LOT, OR ANYWHERE, IF SOMEONE APPROACHES YOUR CAR, DO NOT LOWER YOUR WINDOW AND BE PREPARED TO DRIVE AWAY QUICKLY. Whether it is a male or female, the person who approaches your car can speak to you through a rolled-up window. If he signals you or asks you to lower your window, refuse. Don’t worry about being friendly; there’s no law that says you have to roll down your window and talk to a stranger!
ALWAYS APPROACH YOUR CAR WITH YOUR KEYS READY. Don’t use the remote unlocking device. While it may be convenient, if shows a possible attacker where you are parked and signals that your car is unlocked. These keys can also be used as a self-defense tool or weapon if necessary. Jabbing or raking keys at an attacker may be your only weapon or only chance.
LOOK AROUND THE PARKING LOT AS YOU GO TO YOUR CAR. DON’T LOOK STRAIGHT AHEAD OR FIX YOUR LOOK ON YOUR CAR. Again, be observant. Look around as you leave the store or shopping mall and be aware of what’s going on around you. Look around immediately before you get into your car.
WHEN YOU GET TO YOUR CAR, LOOK AROUND THE SURROUNDING AREA BEFORE YOU GO AROUND THE SIDE OF YOUR CAR TO UNLOCK YOUR DOOR AND GET IN. Be very careful at this point, as this is when many attacks take place. As you open your car door, stay upright and observe the surrounding area, especially behind you, before getting in. When getting in, turn your back to the open door and doorframe of the car and sit in backwards so you can still see what’s going on.
AS SOON AS YOU GET IN YOUR CAR, LOCK THE DOOR. Locking the door is one more barrier between you and a possible attacker. Another good tip is when you get in your car; don’t get on your cell phone quickly. Make that call after you drive away. But remember, always obey local laws regarding using your cell phone when driving.
BEFORE YOU GET OUT OF YOUR CAR, LOOK AROUND THROUGH YOUR FRONT AND BACK WINDSHIELD, ALL WINDOWS AND MIRRORS TO SEE THAT IT’S SAFE TO EXIT THE CAR. Try to park so that you have a good field of vision from inside your car. If it appears to be safe, you can exit your car; if not, keep your doors locked and if necessary, drive away.
WHEN CARRYING PACKAGES, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ONE ARM AND HAND FREE. You are an easy mark if you are loaded down with items and have both hands occupied. Don’t allow anything you carry to obstruct your vision.
LOAD YOUR PACKAGES IN THE TRUNK OF YOUR CAR. DO NOT CARRY THEM AROUND TO THE DRIVER’S SIDE WITH YOU. When you arrive to your car in the parking lot, look around before loading your items in the trunk or back seat.
WHEN PLACING YOUR CHILD IN THE CAR SEAT, USE YOUR OPEN DOOR AS ONE BARRIER AND A SHOPPING CART AS THE OTHER IF POSSIBLE. Even if you don’t have packages or groceries, place your child in a cart and take him or her to the car. When arriving at your car, use the cart to be a barrier at the back of the car. This may keep an attacker from rushing up on you as you place your child in the car. If you don’t have a grocery cart, place packages on the ground to be an obstacle to an attacker.
IF YOU ARE ATTACKED AND PUSHED OR SHOVED DOWN AND CAN’T RUN AWAY OR ESCAPE, GO FETAL. IF YOU HAVE ENOUGH ROOM OR SPACE TO RUN, DO YOUR BEST TO GET UP AFTER YOU HAVE BEEN SHOVED DOWN AND RUN TO WHERE PEOPLE ARE. If the attacker has pushed you down you can’t run, curl up in a tight ball, go “round to the ground” and immediately fight back. At this point, you must react to save your life. Scream, yell…attract attention. Your attacker wants you to be pliable. Do no cooperate. You are in imminent danger at this point and you must survive! Start to flail, kick, punch and scream. Kick or punch for his groin or throat. Bite him, jam your thumbs in his eyes…anything to fight back, distract and disorient him, call attention to the assault and anything you can to survive! 74% OF ALL SEXUAL ASSAULTS ARE INITIATED BY A PUSH OR A SHOVE.
IF YOU ARE ATTACKED AND SHOVED INTO YOUR CAR, DO EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO CRAWL OUT THE PASSENGER DOOR AND GET AWAY! DO NOT STAY IN THE CAR! ESCAPE OR FIGHT BACK! Fight, kick, scream, but by all means, get away from your attacker and get out of your car! No matter what he says, he means to do harm to you and you must get away from him. Do not let him abduct you!
IF YOU LEAVE THE SCENE OF THE INITIAL ATTACK WITH YOUR ATTACKER, THE ODDS ARE VERY HIGH THAT YOU WON’T SURVIVE! DECIDE THAT YOU ARE GOING TO MAKE YOUR STAND RIGHT THERE. IF HE ABDUCTS YOU AND TAKES YOU TO ANOTHER LOCATION, YOU PROBABLY WON’T SURVIVE. If he does abduct you, do anything and everything to get out of the car. Your odds of survival are better if you jump out of a moving car than if you go with your attacker to where he wants to take you. Yes, it’s an extreme measure, but your life is literally on the line! If you are abducted and he is driving, kick, scream, grab the steering wheel…anything to disrupt what he is doing and avoid going along with him. If you are forced to drive, drive erratically and stay in a populated area where there are other cars and people. We repeat…do not let him abduct you!
THE MORE BARRIERS YOU HAVE BETWEEN YOU AND AN ATTACKER, THE BETTER FOR YOU! The information listed here may help in providing barriers that could prevent a home invasion or assault. Please refer to this topic earlier in this booklet. Almost anything can be used a barrier to prevent or thwart an attacker from harming you.
ALWAYS KEEP YOUR DOORS LOCKED. EVEN IN THE DAYTIME. Help prevent home invasions or sexual assaults from taking place in your home. Lock your doors. You don’t want to be awakened by an attacker in bed with you!
HAVE DEADBOLTS INSTALLED AND USE THEM. GET THE 2-KEY DEADBOLT ON ALL DOORS THAT OPEN TO THE OUTSIDE, AS IT’S HARDER TO UNLOCK. This applies to all exterior doors and doors to the garage and basement.
HAVE A SECURITY ALARM INSTALLED BY A REPUTABLE COMPANY. Consult a professional home security company and have a reliable burglar alarm installed for your home as well as any detached garages, out buildings or equipment buildings on your property. (These photos don’t represent an endorsement for any company.) It’s a good idea to post a sign on your property showing that you have a burglar alarm. This often really helps dissuade thieves from picking your home as a target.
CONSIDER HAVING A HAND-HELD PANIC ALARM Most professional home security alarm companies offer a panic alarm that you can carry on your person or have within easy reach while in bed on a night table. This is a handy tool to have with you in your bedroom (often your safe room). You can wear it around your neck at night, and should an attacker surprise you by assaulting you in your bed at night, you can quickly push the button to get help on the way. This is also handy if you have a medical condition. Talk to your home security company about adding a panic alarm to your home security system.
TURN YOUR SECURITY ALARM ON, EVEN WHEN YOU’RE AT HOME A security alarm or system is no good unless you use it. If someone breaks into your home at night when you’re asleep, your security system will sound the alarm. If you are home alone, make it a point to turn on your security alarm. Always turn your security alarm system on when you leave your home.
THE MORE LIGHT, THE BETTER. Have exterior lighting at all entry and exit points, as well as at any part of your home that is dark. Motion detector lights are good to have also. This photo shows a motion detector light located by a driveway.
HAVE AN EMERGENCY PLAN FOR BOTH FIRE AND PERSONAL PROTECTION EMERGENCIES. Make sure everyone in the family knows what to do in an emergency. Things like teaching your children and elderly parents or family members to not open the front door if someone they don’t know rings the doorbell or knocks. Having a meeting location if there is a fire in your home or other emergency situation after the incident has taken place is important as well. Knowing that everyone in the family is safe and accounted for is important.
HAVE A SAFE ROOM TO GO IF THERE IS A STRANGER OR BURGLER IN YOUR HOUSE. THIS ROOM SHOULD HAVE AN INTERIOR KNOB DEADBOLT LOCK ON ITS DOOR AND A TELEPHONE IN THE ROOM. Your safe room should be your bedroom, or if you have a child, make your safe room your child’s bedroom. Make sure you have a landline telephone in your safe room. Your deadbolt lock should be keyed only on the exterior of the door with a turn knob on the interior of the door. This allows you to quickly close the door and turn the knob as you lock yourself in.
NEVER OPEN YOUR DOOR FOR A STRANGER. HAVE SOME TYPE OF WINDOW OR PEEPHOLE OR SMALL WINDOW IN YOUR FRONT DOOR TO SEE WHO IS KNOCKING ON IT OR RINGING YOUR DOORBELL. If someone is standing so close to the door that you can’t see his face, then he’s too close and probably doing it on purpose so you can’t recognize him. Remember, just because someone is at your front door doesn’t mean you have to open it or acknowledge him. Also, as mentioned elsewhere in this booklet, when someone knock on your door or rings your doorbell, if he doesn’t step back a few paces, he may be a threat. Experienced salesmen know to step back a few steps to show that they are not a threat and to allow you to have them in your full view. If a stranger doesn’t step back after knocking on your door, don’t open the door; he may be a threat. If he doesn’t go away after a reasonable period of time, call 911 and give the police the best description possible of this person. Remember, you’re not obligated to open your door if you don’t want to.
DON’T SLEEP WITH OPEN WINDOWS OR DOORS AT NIGHT (OR ANY TIME) Never sleep with an open window or door. You’re asking for a home invasion if you do.
DON’T LEAVE A DOOR OR WINDOW OPEN OR UNLOCKED IF YOU ARE IN ANOTHER PART OF THE HOUSE Make sure that your front door is closed and locked at all times, but it’s especially important if you are in another part of the house. If you walk in the house and the phone rings and you have to go to another part of the house to answer it, make sure to close and lock the door before going to answer the phone.
IF YOU HAVE FRENCH DOORS OR OTHER TYPE OF DOORS WITH A GREAT DEAL OF GLASS, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE CURTAINS INSTALLED SO YOU CAN CLOSE THEM WHEN YOU WISH. NEVER OPEN YOUR FRENCH OR DOUBLE-DOOR AT NIGHT AND NEVER LEAVE YOUR CURTAINS OPEN. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ADEQUATE SECURITY INSTALLED ON YOUR FRENCH DOORS.
NEVER LEAVE VALUABLES, CAR KEYS OR MONEY ON A TABLE NEAR A DOOR. Many people leave their car keys, wallet, purse or other valuable items on a table near the front door of their house. This is a convenient place to drop them off after a hard day’s work and pick them up on the way out the front door in the morning. While it is convenient for you, it’s also convenient for a thief.
HAVE CALLER ID ON YOUR HOME TELEPHONE AND USE IT. There’s nothing wrong with screening your calls. Also, the message you leave on your answering machine shouldn’t identify you or give away any information. Your message shouldn’t say things like “I’m not home now.” It’s also best to have one of those digital voices on your message machine, not yours (especially if you are female). Simply say “Thanks for calling, leave your message and telephone number.”
HAVE A SAFE TO STORE YOUR VALUABLES. Get a sturdy safe that can be bolted onto the floor and store your valuables in it. If you consider something valuable, lock it up!
CORNER HOUSES ARE OFTEN TARGETS. If you live in a house located on a corner, take extra precautions for your home security. Corner houses and property are often more exposed and provide easier access for criminals and thieves.
FENCES. A good fence can be part of your exterior barrier or layer of security. Install of sturdy, chain link fence that is tall enough to prevent someone from climbing over it easily, especially if you live on a corner. Privacy fences are only effective if the fence is tall enough to prevent someone from climbing it easily and if it has an adequate lock on the fence door or gate.
INTERNET: THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY. The Internet’s a marvelous tool used by millions of people, but it can also get you into trouble. Avoid giving out any personal information, posting personal photos, photos of your home, photos of any valuable property you have or revealing any personal information on the Internet. Be careful with whom you contact in the many chat rooms, social networking sites and web sites out there. There’s a lot to be said about Internet safety, but suffice it to say, “be careful.”
YOUR SHOES ARE IMPORTANT. AVOID HIGH HEELS UNLESS YOU ARE WITH YOUR SPOUSE, BOYFRIEND OR ARE TRAVELING WITH A GROUP. WEAR GOOD ATHLETIC SHOES WHEN POSSIBLE. You can’t run very fast in high heels or flip-flops. If you’re wearing them and have to run, kick them off and run in your bare feet. Better yet, wear comfortable shoes with allow heel so you can run or have better traction if you need to defend yourself. If you have a good pair of shoes on, you can kick harder and have better footing on the ground to run away or fight back. Shoes that give your good, stable traction can save your life.
WEAR COMFORTABLE CLOTHING Wear comfortable clothing, especially when traveling. Dressing fashionably is great, but please think about your freedom of movement.
IF TRAVELING ALONE, AVOID WEARING A SKIRT. Skirts restrict your movement if you have to run or fight. Skirts are too easy for a rapist as well. Wear clothing that allows you freedom of movement.
DON’T WEAR EXPENSIVE JEWELRY OR OTHER ITEMS THAT ATTRACT ATTENTION TO YOU. When you’re with your spouse or in a group, jewelry is okay, but never wear it when alone.
ALWAYS CARRY YOUR PURSE CLOSE TO YOUR BODY. Don’t hold your purse by its straps. Cradle it in your armpit or have it hang over your shoulder and cradle it in your front. Purses with long straps are easily pulled away and stolen, so if you have a purse with long straps, cradle is close to the front of your body.
DON’T CARRY TOO MANY PACKAGES. HAVE A FREE HAND AND ARM IF AT ALL POSSIBLE. When both of your arms are full of packages, you’re a better target for an attacker. Don’t allow what you are carrying to obstruct your view. If you have to, use a shopping cart to carry your purchased objects to your car. Don’t have both hands full. You may need one to get to your cell phone!
WALKING OR RUNNING
USE WELL-LIGHTED COURSES WHERE THERE ARE OTHER PEOPLE. Jogging, walking or running in the daytime is best but if you’re out after dark, don’t go running, walking or jogging unless you’re with other people. In fact, it’s recommended that you always run, walk or jog with another person or with a group of people, even in the daytime.
KNOW WHERE YOU ARE. Run, walk or jog in familiar places. Know your route and let someone else know that you are using that route. If you choose to run a new route, especially in a wooded area, run it with a group of people and always have your cell phone with you.
ALWAYS HAVE YOUR CELL PHONE WITH YOU ON YOUR PERSON AND TURNED ON. Call someone you know and trust and tell them you will call them when you return.
IF YOU ARE JOGGING, OR EVEN IF YOU HAVE CAR PROBLEMS AND HAVE TO WALK FOR HELP, WALK AGAINST THE TRAFFIC SO YOU CAN SEE WHAT’S COMING. If you have car problems, stay in your car and call for help on your cell phone. Don’t walk anywhere unless it’s an emergency. If you have to leave your car, take your cell phone with you and leave a note on the interior of the car indicating where you are going and what time you left. Do not leave this note on the outside of the car or visible to the public. If anything should happen to you, this is your note telling the police (who will find your car) where you went and when you went there.
IF FOLLOWED BY A CAR, RUN BACK IN THE DIRECTION FROM WHERE YOU CAME AND GET ON YOUR CELL PHONE TO CALL 911 IF YOU SUSPECT YOU ARE BEING STALKED. Trust your instincts; if you think you’re being followed, you probably are. As soon as you turn around to run back, get your cell phone out and call 911.
IF YOU HAVE TO RUN FROM SOMEONE, KNOW WHERE YOU ARE RUNNING. If someone is chasing you, think to have a specific place to run to and get away from him. Don’t run deeper into a wooded area or randomly run away. Your attacker may be “herding” you to a specific place he wants you to go. Listed below is information on “safe houses” or areas to run to.
NEVER USE EARPLUGS, AN IPOD, WALKMAN OR A MUSIC/RADIO DEVICE WHEN WALKING OR RUNNING. SAVE THAT FOR THE TREADMILL IN THE GYM. You must be aware of your surroundings and if you are tuned in to radio or ipod, you won’t hear an attacker approaching. It’s also a fact that people who wear these devices tend to not look around and be as observant visually as well. When running or walking outdoors or in public, don’t be in “your own little world.” Being observant may prevent problems.
IDENTIFY HOUSES, SHOPS OR OPEN BUILDINGS WHERE THERE ARE PEOPLE ON EACH ROUTE YOU TAKE SO YOU CAN USE THEM AS “SAFE HOUSES” IF YOU ARE ATTACKED. We discussed the “safe room” in your home earlier in this booklet. Here’s a case where your “safe room” becomes a “safe house.” This is a place or area where you can go to for safety if you are being followed or if you have to run for your life.
FIGHTING AND WEAPONS
FIGHTING AND PHYSICAL CONTACT WITH AN ATTACKER IS DONE AS A LAST RESORT, BUT IF YOU HAVE TO FIGHT, FIGHT TO SURVIVE. Self-Defense is more than simply learning some martial arts moves. It’s an approach to conducting your life and doing everything you possible can to live a safe, peaceful life. We don’t advocate physical contact with an attacker unless it’s absolutely necessary, but as you will read in the next paragraph, if you have to fight, fight to survive.
WOMEN WHO FIGHT BACK HAVE A BETTER CHANCE OF SURVIVAL THAN THOSE WHO DON’T. “Being cooperative” with an attacker has been proven to be wrong in many situations when a woman has been physically attacked. If you’ve done everything within your power to prevent or avoid a situation, but are still attacked, you must try to escape. But if you can’t escape, you have to literally fight for your life. In some cases, a woman who fights back buys herself some valuable time. In some instances, an attacker doesn’t want to have to struggle with a victim. He wants to abduct you as quickly as possible. IF YOU HAVE TO FIGHT, FIGHT TO SURVIVE! IF YOU SURVIVE, YOU WIN!
BE PHYSICALLY ABLE TO RUN AWAY IF POSSIBLE. This isn’t always possible. Whether it be because of a physical condition or otherwise, you may not be able to run or run fast. But, if at all possible, be physically fit enough to run, even for a short distance, to get help.
LEARN A MARTIAL ART AND PRACTICE IT. You don’t have to be a master, but if you are competent in knowing how to fight, you will most likely fight back if attacked. While “cardio karate” or “cardio kickboxing” are excellent fitness activities, they are not martial arts and not intended for self-defense. Learning and practicing jujitsu, karate, krav maga, or any martial art on a regular basis will help you be better prepared to defend yourself. Additionally, for the standpoint of your health, the martial arts give you a great workout and you will be a healthier person.
PEPPER SPRAY WORKS, MAYBE. When you are walking to your car at night or in a parking garage, have your spray canister in your dominant hand and thumb on the nozzle, ready to use. Have it out of your purse and ready when you leave the store or mall to go to your car or when you are jogging. Just remember, for pepper spray (and some other self-defense weapons) to be effective, the attacker has to be in close proximity to you. If he’s that close, you most likely won’t have time to get the weapon out and use it effectively-and he might take it from you and use it on you. (See the next item for more on this.) Before using pepper spray or any other weapon, read the information below and consider it carefully.
WEAPONS (GUNS, KNIVES, TASERS, PEPPER SPRAY OR OTHER LETHAL AND NON-LETHAL WEAPONS) It’s your decision whether to use a lethal or non-lethal weapon in a self-defense situation, but remember that using self-defense weapons may backfire on you. Unless you are trained in the use of any weapon and practice with it on a regular basis, an attacker may take the weapon may from you and use it against you. If you choose to use lethal or non-lethal weapons for self-defense, it is essential that you receive professional training in how to use them, practice with them on a regular basis, properly maintain them so they will work when necessary and obey all laws in the possession of them. Remember Bat Masterson’s advice. You must be willing to use any weapon you own or carry for self-defense and understand the consequences of its use.
USE ANYTHING AS A WEAPON. HAVE A KEY, PEN, FLASHLIGHT OR UMBRELLA IN YOUR HAND IF YOU DON’T HAVE PEPPER SPRAY AS A WEAPON. Use a car key, pen, flashlight, umbrella, remote control or any hard instrument to jab at an attacker’s throat, eyes, face or crotch. If you have to use it, hit him with it repeatedly. A small flashlight is an excellent weapon and can be used to shine in an attacker’s eyes. The brighter and more intense the light, the better it is if you flash it in an attacker’s eyes. Use anything possible as a weapon. Even a tightly rolled-up magazine can be used to poke or jab an attacker as a last resort! Some items that can be used as a weapon are: 1-A cane, walking stick or umbrella. 2-Scissors. 2-A screwdriver (or other tools such as a hammer or even the handle of a paint brush). 3-Pen or pencil. 4-An aerosol spray such as bug spray, oven cleaner or spray starch. 5-The remote control for a television. 6-Hot liquids. 7-A bottle. Unlike the movies, a glass bottle won’t usually break when you hit someone with it. It’s an effective club. 8-Keys. 9-A lamp. 10-Any decorative item sitting on a table such as a statuette or piece of pottery. You get the message; just about anything can be used to hit, poke or strike an attacker.
ATTACK HIS “SOFT SPOTS,” THE TESTICLES, THROAT AND EYES. Go for his testicles, throat and eyes when striking an assailant. These are the most vulnerable spots on the male anatomy; here’s why. Serious damage to the testicles will take place with only 68 pounds of force or pressure from a kick or strike. A kick at 22 mph will generate over 400 pounds of force to the pubic area. What this means in “real world” terms is that if a woman kicks an attacker in the testicles with her knee, she generates enough explosive speed (a bit over 20 mph) to exert almost 18 times more force than needed to disable him.
It only takes 30 pounds of pressure to damage the cartilage rings of the trachea or dislocate it and only 150 pounds of pressure to crush the trachea. This means a sharp blow to the front of the throat can generate enough force to severely damage an attacker’s trachea.
A knife hand strike (as shown in the photo at left) generates 600 pounds of pressure to the throat. That’s 20 times more force than needed to break or dislocate his trachea. Only 50 pounds of pressure are required to rupture an eyeball. A sudden knuckle or finger thrust into the eye of an attacker (shown at right) generates 12 times more force than necessary to rupture it. When you hit him, hit him hard! You may only get one chance to inflict as much damage as possible to an attacker. Don’t hit him lightly initially to “warn him away.” That type of thinking will only get your hurt. Hit him hard and mean it…then run as fast as you can and escape. Earlier, we discussed “Force Multipliers.” Basically, this means that gain additional force or power by use of something that will multiply it. A real Force Multiplier is to strike him in a vital area. Hit him and hit him where it hurts. When you strike or kick him, do as much damage as possible, remember, he attacked you!
SCREAM, YELL AND MAKE NOISE WHEN FIGHTING BACK. In some cases, if you scream and attract attention to the assault, it will scare the attacker away for fear of being caught or identified. The second you are grabbed or surprised by any unwanted physical touch or assault, scream, yell and attract attention to the situation. You also gain additional power when you yell as you fight back. In the martial arts, this is known as a “kiai” or spirit shout. It will give you some additional “oomph” when you need it.
A DOG IS A MAN’S (AND A WOMAN’S) BEST FRIEND A dog can provide good protection, even if your dog isn’t one that will bite. The loud barking of a dog warns you of an intruder when you’re at home and a dog trained to defend you will certainly do the job when called upon. However, simply walking with a dog doesn’t insure you of being safe or not being targeted by a predator. If you plan on getting a dog for protection while walking or jogging, make sure to get a dog that can be trained to protect you.
WHAT ARE THE LEGAL CONSEQUENCES? WHAT IF I’M SUED? Your first consideration should be your personal safety and the safety of your loved ones. Assume that anytime you are forced to defend yourself, there will be legal consequences. John Saylor, a leading self-defense coach, has what he calls the “Three Assumptions of Self-Defense.” They are; (1) Assume your attacker is not alone. (2) Assume you will get injured. (3) Assume you will be sued if you defend yourself. Anytime you are attacked, you should call 911 and file a police report. It may be politically incorrect to say it, but it’s true; “I would rather be judged by twelve than carried by six.” We’re not lawyers, so if you’re concerned about any phase of self-defense and the law, consult an attorney, but in the meantime, do what’s necessary to defend yourself.
IMPROVE YOUR FITNESS LEVEL. The better shape you are in physically, the better chance you have of not being a victim. We realize this may not always be possible, but try to be fit enough to run from an attacker, even for a short distance until you get to a crowded area. This means that if you are elderly, wheelchair bound or otherwise physically incapable of running or physically defending yourself, you should make extra precautions for your safety. In this case, prevention and being extra aware of your surroundings is even more important than before. You’re not expected to be able to run a marathon or lift a lot of weight, but be in as good of shape as possible. It’s a fact that the better physical shape you are in, the better chance you have of survival, but if that’s not possible, take extra precautions to do what is necessary to protect yourself.
HIT OR KICK HARD AND FAST. HAVE EVERY INTENTION OF DOING HARM TO YOUR ATTACKER. If attacked, you may have to strike or kick your attacker repeatedly and scream as you do it. He is physically stronger than you are and you must do everything you physically can do to fight back if you are attacked. Strike hard and fast for vulnerable points such as the crotch, eyes and throat of an attacker.
HIT AND RUN! If you’re unable to escape or run away and you’ve been physically assaulted, fight back and then run away. HIT OR KICK HIM UNTIL YOU CAN ESCAPE. CONTINUE TO STRIKE HIM AND SCREAM UNTIL HE RELEASES YOU. WHEN HE DOES, GET AWAY! Remember, your goal is to get away. Fight back with everything you have and do everything in your power to hurt him, but fight back only long enough to get away. Remember, if you survive the encounter, you win!
UNDERSTAND THAT YOU MAY BE INJURED. If you’ve been physically attacked, you may sustain injuries. You may be knocked to the ground or beaten. Be prepared as best you can mentally and emotionally for the fact that you may get hurt if attacked. It’s important to remember that your first priority is to survive. If injured, do everything you can to survive the attack and escape. Your goal is to live; do what’s necessary to survive, then after it’s over, you can decompress, get emotional, talk to your family and friends or healthcare professionals about the whole thing…but most important; you are alive.
YOUR MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL STATE
YOU MUST DO EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO SURVIVE! With this as your ultimate goal, you have to remain as calm as possible. Will you be calm? Of course not! But, you must do everything within your power to avoid “losing it” and be unable to think (and act) under pressure. You must realize that no one is there to help you. You have to help yourself!
YOU MUST BE WILLING TO DEFEND YOURSELF. Remember Bat Masterson’s words; “It’s not the fastest or most accurate. It’s the most willing.” This means you must be willing to do anything and everything in your power to defend yourself and survive. This is the most important attribute in self-defense. Simply put, if you’re not willing to do whatever it takes to defend yourself or survive, then you are at the mercy of your attacker and will be a victim.
WHEN YOU SCREAM AND RESIST, THIS OFTEN DISORIENTS YOUR ATTACKER…EVEN FOR A MOMENT. An attacker wants you to be pliable, weak and play the role of his victim. This is when you must fight back and do everything possible to escape or resist.
DON’T GET CAUGHT UP IN SHOULDA…COULDA. After the attack, don’t get caught up in “I should have done this…” or “I could have done that…” and don’t let others do that to you either. What happened, happened. You did your best to get through the situation and you survived.