Focus! Act Fast!
Let me state the obvious: You're the only one who is with you all the time so you're in the best position to safeguard yourself.
Being attacked or violated is never YOUR fault. That said, there are actionable strategies we can and must adopt to reduce our risks and increase our safety. To become a tough target and escape violence, keep your senses sharp and your responses quick. Trust your GUT and pay close attention to personal relationships and signs of controlling or aggressive behavior. To SELF defend, authorize yourself to be your OWN best protector.
Prevention: First Lines of Defense
Be like a creature of the forest. Keenly observant. Senses amplified. Attuned to your environs. Here's why: two seconds of early detection could be enough time to avoid a "hit" and live to tell the story. Not bad!
To reduce the element of surprise, ditch tunnel vision and develop peripheral vision. Soften your gaze and use your eyes like a wide angle lens. This can help eliminate blind spots--common angles of attack--and allows you to become an early motion detector.
Walk like you own the turf. Put your weight down. Let your upper body and torso ride naturally atop the powerful carriage of your hips and legs. (No tipping forward or schlepping!) Stay aligned, on balance.
Give peace a chance! If faced with a fuming, but not yet violent individual, use verbal skills to de-escalate, defuse, lower his aggressive arousal. (Use non-inflammatory, empathy-based language." I can see how upset you are.... I hear you.") Give an "honorable exit" but don't get soft. Talk and empathy are NOT always saving graces. Maintain distance while calmly moving yourself off his line of attack.
Act fast! The first few seconds of an assault or first sign of imminent danger is your best time to break away. The longer a person has control over you, the more difficult it becomes to facilitate escape.
Do not allow a criminal to move you to a second location (not even from the street to the backside of a building). Second locations are always more dangerous. At a second more isolated location, criminals will have more control over you. Go ballistic but do not "go with!"
RULE! Don't allow yourself to be tied up. If you see rope, duct tape or cordage coming at you, it's time to "go off!" Fight like a bitch! Attack the face, eyes. Morph your legs into battering rams. Go primal to escape!
Set boundaries (using verbal, spatial, distance controlling skills) to ward off space invaders, intruders and would-be predators. If a person encroaches or makes you uncomfortable promptly establish borders to create distance and OWN your space. Use strong (but not overly aggressive) body posture: Take a sturdy stance with hands up and palms out as if to say "Stop." Use firm unambiguous (not nebbishy) language, such as: "Leave me alone. " "No thanks, I'm fine." I'm NOT interested. We're done here.... Back off." This isn't one-size-fits-all, so adjust volume/ intensity / attitude as needed. This could be a "test" (Is she an easy or hard target? Can I get THIS close, touch or speak to her like this...? ) so be sure your words and body-language are congruent. Add gravity: shift your center down into the basement of your being. Master this!
Don't fight over money, jewelry, your Gucci bag. This is self defense not "stuff defense." In a simple street robbery, throw the dog a bone—then blast. Reserve your savagery for when your life is at stake.
Use your voice as a weapon to repel, dissuade and to attract attention. Many women have successfully foiled attacks by using their voice. (Me too. What... you didn't hear me?) Yell, like you're waking the dead!
Be willing to make a commotion. Throw rocks though a window. Pull a fire alarm. (While you're there, grab the fire extinguisher. They make fabulous weapons.)
If suspiciously approached, watch the hands—not the eyes. Eyeballs are never going to physically attack you. Hands and whatever they contain might. When driving, remain alert. If suspicious persons approach your vehicle and you cannot see their hands, hit the gas!
As a general rule, don't stick your face where it doesn't belong.
Disengage! Never feel forced into conversations not of your choosing—whether on the street or in a social settiing. It's fine to nod, acknowledge people, and mozy on.
Walk Away. If you see trouble coming - be it familial or from a stranger- and you can remove yourself, do it. There's no shame in that. Don't merely hope or wait for a person to change their behavior. Self defense means taking control and acting on your own behalf sooner than later.
A moving target is harder to hit! If approached by a gunman and you can easily escape, RUN! Distance is your best defense! When driving, try to maintain enough room between your vehicle and the one in front to make a quick getaway. In just three seconds at 20 mph a car travels 90 feet—effectively out of range of most shooters.
Trapped with an aggressive date or client with no easy way out? Take control. Lie. Manipulate. Redirect the mind of the man. Hey, Tiger, let's go out back and have a smooch on the porch. But be prepared to go animal and deliver a good blow!
In confrontations, mind your words. Don't resort to dissing. Here's the deal: If you humiliate or back a dude into a corner, he's more likely to go on the attack. Swallow some pride—even if he's a jerk. This is about saving your butt, not your face. Got it?
Stun-n-run: If grabbed but not immobilized, get cracking and bust free. For example: crack the side of his head or ear with your thwacking hand or loaded purse; bust your wrist or arm free with a whipping circular 'round the world' move. Holler! Kick the nearest knee or lower leg. Caution: stun-and-runs are best used when help is nearby. Not if you're isolated or fighting off a determined attacker. NEVER RELY ON JUST ONE MOVE!
Use barrier methods to create distance from troublemakers. Get your tush onto the other side of large tems: cars, buildings, desks, walls. Raise hell and draw attention. Point and shout: You....call the cops!
Honor gut feelings. Stay in touch with your fear. Tune inward - not just outward - to how you are feeling and to the sensations in your body. Whether you hear fear's signal as a quiet voice in your head, an uncomfortable nag in your gut, or as alarming sensations... obey!
Real fear is an agent of survival. Its prime directive is to keep you alive. Honoring fear and intuitive hunches—whether with strangers or intimates—could save your life.