Personal Safety & Self-Protection Tips for Women

At the Writers’ Police Academy, I had the privilege of attending a class on this topic taught by Master Corporal Dee Jackson. And I’d like to share some of her excellent tips with my female readers.

Dee emphasized that an encounter will last at least two minutes and helped us experience the stamina that takes by having us high step in place for only one minute. Many were winded after that short time, which helped illustrate why she teaches self-protection as opposed to self-defense. She says, if you can’t last two minutes, you need to be able to disengage quickly.

The key to avoiding an encounter is hyper-vigilance.

You should be aware of your surroundings at all times. Swivel your head and look. If anyone is closing in within an arm’s length, turn to face them on a diagonal, with your strongest arm and foot back, your weight evenly distributed, your palm raised and firmly say “Stop” as loudly as deemed necessary for the situation.

You shouldn’t care if the person thinks you’re crazy or rude. Someone who means no harm will stop and back up. You can apologize later with a “you can never be too careful these days” if need be, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Think the best, but plan for the worst.

Facing the person who makes you uneasy and demanding they stop with your hand blocking them also serves the purpose of attracting attention from others, which will further discourage the perpetrator who may move on to an easier mark. And the dramatic move will hopefully prompt others to help.

Always park beneath a light standard, preferably one with a video camera.

If the person continues to approach, take a step back and say more forcefully, “I said get back.” For added shock value you might add some more colorful language.

What if an attacker grabs you by the throat?

Do not let him get you to the ground. The ground is your enemy. Remember your hands are free. Don’t use them to grab at his hands. Slam them down on his elbows to break the hold.

Or if he’s too tall, grab his shirt, dig in your fingers, pull him close and knee his groin as often as needed until he releases you. Then run.

If he grabs from behind, use one hand to try to ease his hold off your throat, use the elbow of your other arm to smash his head.

You can see how in a panic situation that unless you’ve practiced this over and over and built muscle memory, you are unlikely to react quickly enough, which is why hyper-vigilance is so important.

Additional tips

Long before you get close to your car, scan under it and around it. At a distance, you can do this without leaning down. Remember, the ground is your enemy.

The only door you unlock should be the one you are using and not until you’ve done a visual check of the interior.

If you have stuff to put away in your trunk, open your driver’s door first, shove your purse under the seat and relock. Next, lock kids in the car. Then put your purchases in the trunk.

When you leave the house, note where things are. When you return, pay attention. Is anything out of place? If so, take appropriate precautions.

One last tip from Eli Jackson, a martial arts expert and founder of the Authors Combat Academy, is run from a knife. If you engage, you will be cut. If you can’t get away, take advantage of pivot points to push the knife away. Swing your side being attacked out of the way and grab wrist with other hand, with thumb at back knuckle. This is a pivot point that will force the knife a different direction.

pivot point

She demonstrated various other pivot points that can be used to advantage, but to do this in the middle of an attack takes continual practice to build muscle memory.

Your Turn: Any tips or stories to share from your own experience?