Rebecca Fisher is an Independent Damsel pro with Damsel In Defense and is the author of the novel, All the Wrong Places. Her own experiences surviving sexual assault and domestic abuse helped serve as the inspiration for her novel and her passion to reach women. Rebecca, along with her business partner Dee are on a mission to equip, empower and educate women about personal safety. Here are their tips.
With national statistics showing one in five women are survivors of rape, and one in three women experience domestic violence, women in America are undeniably at risk. Those are scary statistics and really tough topics to address. Many of us would prefer to go about life pretending the chances are one in a million, but the facts are the facts. It’s time to face them.
National Sexual Assault Awareness month is coming up in April, and there’s no better time for all of us to reassess our daily routines and potential risk to come up with a plan to keep ourselves and the women we love safer. Here are some tips to help ensure we will not be the one in five, and if we are survivors, that it never happens again.
10 Self Defense Tips
1. Our first layers of protection are awareness and instinct. First, let’s arm ourselves with information. Possessing the knowledge of statistics and safety tips makes us better prepared to avoid or respond to an attack. Spend a little time studying safety tips and making a decision to implement them in your daily life. Reading this is a great start! Share them with other women you know and love. To make it a little more fun, throw an Empower Hour party where these facts and tips are presented in a fun but effective way through Damsel In Defense, a company with the goal of equipping, empowering and educating women about personal safety.
As for instinct, it’s a self-defense weapon that we all have, but many of us fail to heed. When a deer senses danger, it doesn’t talk itself out of believing it. It runs! If your gut is telling you something is wrong or that danger is ahead, listen! It just might save your life.
2. Walk with confidence and make eye contact. Most attackers want an easy target. When we walk while checking our cellphones or with headphones in, we make ourselves much easier targets. Walk with your head up, your shoulders back and your eyes scanning your surroundings. Always know who and what is around you. We don’t have to be paranoid, but we do need be aware. Should someone set those internal alarms off, eye contact will send the message that you can identify them.
3. Be polite, but pass. Research has shown that criminals use empathy to hook their victims. Don’t be baited. Politely pass on assisting anyone needing help with directions, bags, bus money, etc. Especially in parking lots, hiking trails and anywhere you might be vulnerable, unseen and unheard. Rely on your instinct. Should someone really need help, always call for assistance. There are professionals who can help them better than we can. If you’re afraid and need to draw attention in an emergency, use a personal alarm to bring help your way.
4. Keep your hands free. We’ve all been guilty of overloading with arms full of grocery bags, shopping bags, purses, etc. This makes us very vulnerable. Find a way to keep your hands free to defend yourself. Use a purse with a strap, a backpack or whatever you need to keep yourself prepared. In fact, keep your hands filled with protection instead, such as pepper spray to defend yourself.
5. Don’t be predictable. Some attackers plan their attacks by tracking your routines. Let’s not make it so easy. Change up your routes as much as possible. Are you a runner, walker or hiker? Change your paths every now and then and know all potential safe zones such as a store, police station, neighbors or even a gas station.
6. Check for potential danger before getting in your car. Is there someone sitting in the car next to yours? Is there a van, especially one with no windows? If so, don’t be embarrassed to get in through the passenger seat if necessary and climb over the console. Better to get a little stretching in than be in danger. If your instinct is really kicking in and warning you of harm, find someone to escort you to your car or call for help.
7. Avoid the stairs. We’ve all heard that stairs are an easy way to get those extra steps in, but research shows that a large majority of attacks happen in stairwells. Take the elevator whenever possible and always stand near the doors so you have a quick exit should someone enter that sets your alarms off. Better to risk being “rude” than be a victim of a violent or deadly crime.
8. Don’t let your outfit get you in a pickle. Be willing to chuck your new heels in order to run, or rip your favorite skirt to get to safety faster. Effectively running very far in high heels and cocktail dresses only happens in the movies. Also, make sure your purse can hold your protection. Use a key chain with your pepper spray attached for easy access.
9. NEVER go to crime scene #2. If a criminal wants your money or your purse, give it to them without a fight. But if their plan is to attack you and get you to another location, fight for your life and escape in whatever way necessary. Statistics show that if you go with them, you will not be found or rescued. Use every weapon in your arsenal. And find a self-defense class nearby. Layer your protection with knowledge, weapons and self-defense techniques.
10. Finally, have a plan. Attackers have the advantage because they have a plan. Take it back! Armed with information, protection and self-defense skills, you are helping to ensure that you will not be a victim. Then share what you know with others. Together we can change the statistics!
Thanks, ladies. These tips are super helpful and definitely something to pass along to the women in your life. —Erin