Here is a collection of basic, common sense self-defense tips and advice. The information presented here provides some general tips on how to avoid dangerous situations outside your home. Remember, Common Sense is the rule. The most common statement of someone that has put themselves in harms way is “I have as much right to … as anyone else” or another favorite macho statement is “You can’t let fear run your life!”. While these statements are true it is also true that we must, each of us, pay the consequences of our own actions and decisions. Think about that. It is not meant to blame the victim but remind us that most situations can be avoided if we make self-defense and self-preservation part of our lives.
Even if we make self-defense a part of lives it is not always enough. Sometimes trouble has a way of hunting you down (no pun intended). The following list should provide some basic information to get you started thinking and living in a self-defense mode. You will notice that much of the content focuses on avoiding violence altogether, this is after all the most effective form of self-defense.
Most violent situations start with or after a verbal altercation. This is especially true in domestic violence cases. If at all possible try to “cool down” the situation before it gets out of hand, if that isn’t possible attempt to safely remove yourself from the situation.
- If you see or sense problems in your path, change your route and – prepare to defensively leave or defend yourself
- Do not wear conspicuous jewelry when you are walking on the streets
- Do not hitchhike, use buses or taxis
- Do not act or look like an easy target – look and act confident!
- Most “fights” are won before they start, and aggressors will back down if you maintain eye contact and are not intimidated by them.
Using Public Transport:
- Remember, there is usually safety in numbers. Wait in a coffee shop or in a well lit area for the public transport to arrive
- Do not choose the window seat as you may be “blocked in” by a potential assailant; always choose an aisle seat for quick exit
- After peak hours, always choose the train compartment carrying the most passengers or the compartment directly behind the train driver
- On buses, sit behind the driver or next to the door for quick exit.
- Danger areas are stepping out of your car either at home or in isolated areas, and also walking to your car
- Always approach your vehicle with keys in-hand
- Windows should be up and doors locked even when driving to avoid unwanted passengers at intersections.
- Always check your car before getting in
- Never leave your car unlocked, even for a few minutes to “quickly” run in (example: ATM, video store, etc.) Attackers have been known to lie in wait for such an opportunity.
- Never get into a car even if someone is pointing a knife or a handgun at you from inside. Run (screaming) in the opposite direction the car is headed. If you get shot or stabbed your chances of survival are greater then if you go to a location of your attackers choosing.
- Never pull your car over from a quiet road even if someone drives alongside your car pointing at the tires. Always continue driving to a well-lit and crowded area before exiting your car.
- Always be alert in parking lots, specially when it’s dark. If you are afraid, don’t be too shy to ask someone to escort you to your car. Most stores have personnel or security staff that will assist you. Between cars and inside cars, it’s easy for someone to hide and wait until an unalert person comes along.
- Always check the identification of the driver (usually located near the visor) and ensure that it matches the driver
- Be wary of cars with central locking
- Don’t sit behind the driver as it may be easy for the driver to lock the rear passenger door – always choose the adjacent seat
- Whenever possible call for a taxis so that the driver can be traced
- Avoid flagging taxis from the street
Walkers / joggers:
- If you have car trouble and are walking to look for help, always walk against the traffic so that you can see what is coming
- If shadowed by a car, run back in the direction from which you came. If you continue in the same direction, you will make it easy for the shadowing to continue
- Don’t use an mp3 player or personal music device when walking in isolated areas at any time
- Regularly change your routines
- Mark out houses at intervals on each route you take that may be used as “safe houses” in the event of attack such as shops or houses that you know to be occupied by a friend or acquaintance. Try to incorporate these houses every time you vary your route
- Be alert at all times
- Don’t presume that because your area has been “safe” thus far, that it will continue to be so.
Public phone boxes:
- When you are calling from a telephone box, after dialing the numbers always turn around so that you have your back to the phone and may see what is coming. You will then be able to tell the person to whom you are speaking that you may be in trouble and you may be able to use the weight of the phone as a weapon.
- Think about your clothing – where will it be worn? Will you be going out after work? Get into the habit of leaving restrictive clothing and shoes for those occasions when you are certain that you have no reason to anticipate danger, such as large crowds, being picked up after work or going out and so forth.
- Choose a wardrobe which maximizes freedom of movement. The best self defense techniques will not help you if you cannot run away because of tight skirts or shoes with straps and high heels. In these situations, it will be necessary to disable your attacker to ensure you are not followed unless you have some means of a quick exit such as a motor vehicle. This places additional, unnecessary pressure on you to be successful. Further, if you focus too much attention on disabling you opponent, you may not be sufficiently aware of an additional threat to yourself