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Self Defense for Women

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One rape or sexual assault occurs every two minutes, according to the statistics from the National Center for Victims of Crime- Year 2000, in the US. One violent crime occurs every five seconds in the US and 172 women are physically and sexually assaulted every hour!


The study reported that women were about 6 times more likely than men to experience violence committed by an intimate. It is shocking to note that 22 to 35% of women who visit emergency rooms in the US are there for injuries related to ongoing abuse, as per reports of the Journal of American Medical Association. In fact more than one million women seek medical treatment each year for injuries caused by their husbands or partners. It is this kind of situation with increasing crime levels that warrants self defense for women.


Self defense can be defined as a verbal, psychological and physical technique used in the defense of oneself in situations ranging from unwanted or harassing moments, including physical abuse and rape.


Where/when can violence against women happen?

No woman is truly and completely safe all the time as violence can happen anywhere, anytime. It could be at home, at work, in school or college, at a cinema hall or even while shopping. Opportunities for attack includes rape, car jacking, purse snatching, domestic violence, while walking along the street, underground car parks, while jogging, hitch hiking, home invasion, workplace violence among many others.


Self defense for women

A woman confronted by an attacker will probably have only a split second to decide whether to run or resist. Running away is not always the best solution as there is no point in running away if no help is forthcoming from nearby. It is advised to only run away if help is available within sprinting distance or the victim has physically disabled the attacker enough to run away. Otherwise the best option would be to combat with the attacker through sheer use of physical force and mental fortitude.


Self defense does not mean exchanging blows and indulging in violent retaliation with another person. The first and best self defense would be not to put oneself in danger's way. The second best self defense technique is to run. If neither of these options is available, one must know how to defend oneself.


How could training in self defense help women ?

Self defense training provides an opportunity for women to fight back during times of physical attack. Women become capable of handling a broad spectrum of emotions with physical and verbal skills that could be used against an attacker. They also learn to handle and explore their anger, grief and fear with expertise and ease. Women's self defense programs comprise a wide range of skills dealing with general awareness and safety, communication and self defense drills and groundwork. In this process, women are trained in various forms of physical empowerment including:


  • Meditation, visualization and movement

  • Verbal self defense skills

  • Yoga

  • Simple strike practice

Physical encounter with an attacker

During such a physical encounter with an attacker, women should be aware when to strike and when to withdraw, which is one of the most cardinal principles of self defense skills. In other words, 'rules of engagement' are as follows:


  • A woman can strike back if she feels that the attack is imminent and it is acceptable morally and legally to strike in a pre-emptive manner.

  • A woman must observe the predator's body language, his verbal taunts and also the personal space between them before she strikes.

  • A woman faced with over whelming odds such as weapons or sheer number of attackers, could be justified in the use of lethal force. Incapacitating the attacker in the most effective manner necessary in order to preserve one's life.

  • However it should be well remembered that use of lethal force is only a last alternative and lethal force should not be used if the attacker poses no immediate threat.

  • It is recommended that every woman learn the self defense laws in her area.

  • The best defense is avoidance. However if this is not possible, be prepared to prove everything in the court of law.

  • Usually striking immediately gives the best chance of survival. However, it is necessary to be aware of the surroundings and who are in them.
  • Remember that there are no hard and fast rules in the fight for survival.

  • During physical combat, it is advised to pick the weakest body parts such as the eyes, groin or any where in the neck, especially the throat.
  • A woman capable of self defense skills would strike hard, fast and through her target. The tempo of the strike should be kept till the attacker is weakened.

  • It is advised for women to always carry a back up weapon. For instance if the gun lets her down, there is always some other weapon to fall back on.

  • It is essential to keep the physical combat as simple and vicious as possible.

  • Above all, believe in the individual gut feeling. It should help one to decide which way to go and how to handle the situation most competently.

Concept of body as a weapon in self defense:

A woman can use parts of her body to the utmost advantage as it is by far the best weapon in such an encounter.


  • Hands can be used for grabbing and tearing at the soft flesh of the attacker. The underside of the arm and the inner thigh regions are recommended for attack.

  • Elbows make great weapon against an assailant as it helps to twist at the waist and throw all the weight and power of upper and lower body into the hit. Elbows can help to cause immense pain on the ribs, sternum, diaphragm, throat and groin of the attacker.

  • Knees are the strongest part of a woman's body and the kneecap can successfully damage the attacker between the legs.

  • Head is made up of the hard bone skull which when brought in contact with the fragile part of the assailant's face, especially the nose, can do enough damage.

  • The feet can be used to kick the attacker on his ankle, calf or tendon.

  • Teeth can help viciously bite, no matter where it is placed. But one should use judgment while biting; otherwise she may land up with the attacker's infected blood on her mouth.

For self defense to be effective, practice is a must. The self defense techniques need to be practiced accurately. Otherwise a woman may inflict severe damage on her own body.

Self defense tips for women


  • Never go for walking or jogging with head sets on. This prevents one from seeing or hearing what is happening around them. The first lesson in self defense is to be aware of one's surroundings.

  • It is always better not to hitchhike. Instead use buses or taxis.

  • In survival confrontations, it is recommended to use anything at hand. For instance, if the attack is indoors she can use ashtrays, chairs, bottles, kitchen utensils etc. During outdoor attacks one can use sand, stones, coins, bricks and wood. Sticks, knives, pencils, crochet or knitting needles and even a cellular phone can be used like a stone.

  • Sprays including pepper sprays, aerosol cans, hair spray, spray paint and tear gas can be effectively used.

Always practice how quickly and effectively to use the weapons. The rule in this game of self defense is to strike first, without any hesitation at the vulnerable points of the attacker with a lot of power. Above all, a woman should be mentally prepared to react even in the worst of situations.


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