Unfortunately, the world can be a dangerous place at times and it’s best to be prepared to handle unexpected situations instead of being a victim of an attack. You are not always equipped with a gun or knife when a situation could turn dangerous, so therefore it is good to know your plans for self-defense without the use of lethal tools. It’s important to have a plan in place for when the unexpected happens and training is one of the best prevention methods of defense. Fortunately, there are many options out there for self-defense, from courses you can take to weapons and self-defensive items you can carry with you at all times.
Self-defense is a legal response to an attack. It is legally stated as such, “use of force is justified when a person reasonably believes that it is necessary for the defense of oneself or another against the immediate use of unlawful force. However, a person must use no more force than appears reasonably necessary in the circumstances. Force likely to cause death or great bodily harm is justified in self-defense only if a person reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm.” (From the ‘Lectric Law Library’s Lexicon Self-Defense Defense.) Many people may find it difficult to harm another person, but in the event of an attack, it’s important to know what is legally justified in a dangerous situation.
Research and Prevention
One of the best approaches to self-defense is to be aware of potential dangers, such as neighborhoods with high crime rates and to practice prevention methods. There are simple, common-sense actions you can take to lower your statistics of becoming a victim such as: knowing the area you’re going and avoiding dangerous times and places, never traveling alone, especially at night. Always let someone know where you’re going and around what time you expect to return and knowing the nearest exit or place to run can help you escape as well.
However, sometimes we find ourselves in unfamiliar places and also sometimes familiar places can unexpectedly become dangerous. It can be impossible to predict what you may become the victim of a crime, regardless of how much research and prevention you implement. The attack may even come from someone you know. For example, more than 80% of all rape victims know their attacker beforehand (Lemmon, K.) Therefore, no matter how much research we may implement beforehand, it’s still important to know how you plan to respond in the event of an attack.
In addition to avoiding potentially dangerous places, there are preventative methods for self-defense we can implement before resorting to using a weapon or fighting back.
Preventative Methods for Self-Defense:
1. Trust your instincts.
We all have that “gut feeling” inside when we know something is weird or even dangerous. Oftentimes, these feelings are correct. If you feel unsafe walking a certain way, or feel uneasy near a certain person, turn around and go a different way if possible.
2. Practice Target Denial.
Don’t imagine yourself as a victim, and don’t make yourself accessible. When trusting your instincts, follow through with them and avoid people and places that make you uncomfortable or you know are potentially dangerous. Don’t allow yourself to become ridden with fear before an attack even occurs.
3. Present Yourself with Confidence.
Be aware of your body language to potential attackers. When you walk upright and with confidence, you appear less vulnerable than if you are walking cowardly. Attackers look for victims who appear confused, scared, distracted or lost. Always stay alert, and never walk alone with headphones on, especially at night.
4. Verbal Defense
If you are approached by a stranger, use strong verbal communication to confidently suggest that you are not a victim. Often times, an attacker is interviewing you in a way to see if you are easily scared and therefore easily attacked. Carry a firm voice, not a shaky and weak voice and don’t allow yourself to respond with fear.
5. Non-Confrontational Stance/Element of Surprise
In a self-defense situation, one of your best weapons is the element of surprise. Most predators feel confident that you won’t defend yourself, and you should capitalize on that misconception. If you assume a martial arts stance or immediately grab a weapon, it tells the attacker that you know how to fight and they might be more aggressive as a response.
6. Keep a Safe Distance
Everyone has a comfort zone for a reason. When walking alone in an unknown area, cross the street if a stranger is on the same street as you. If someone violates your comfort zone by coming too close, maintain physical distance if possible using strong verbal communication or remove yourself.
7. Keep your Responses Simple.
Fear and adrenaline can take a toll on our fine motor skills and our ability to react. Rehearsing your response to an attack, such as grabbing and using a weapon or even fighting back, is critical in moments of high stress. Keep your response plan simple so that you can easily react or act at a crucial moment. There are a wide variety of martial art fighting techniques, which can be learned by taking a martial arts of self-defense course.
8. Don’t Panic.
Being threatened or attacked is a terrifying experience, and panicking is one of the first reactions. However, try to maintain your calm so that you can protect yourself and make decisions on when and how to run and to contact help.
(10 Self-Defense Strategies Every Woman Needs to Know to Survive.)
Self Defense Course
Taking a self-defense course is a crucial prevention step. A course can teach you what you would actually do in the event of an attack and make you confident in your plan. This plan should include knowing when to run when to give the attacker what they want, or even when to hold your ground and how to fight. A thorough and well-rehearsed plan can help prevent you from becoming the victim of an attack.
Self-defense courses, like Women’s Self Defense SEPS, a free online self-defense resource, will teach you that trusting yourself to respond appropriately is not an effective form of self-defense and that you need to have a strategic plan in place well before an attacker targets you.
A self-defense course can also teach you how to defend yourself without any weapon at all. Often times, these courses promote more defensive tactics than offensive. Offensive attacks should be saved until absolutely necessary because they can promote further violence and often times your assailant has a weapon or may be bigger and stronger than you.
Most people aren’t carrying a gun or lethal knife around, even if they own these items. Lethal weapons can have heavy consequences when used and therefore it is a good idea to know and become proficient with non-lethal tools for defense. It is a good idea to carry a tool for self-defense that you’re comfortable and capable of using. Train yourself in a safe environment on using your weapon and always keep it in a memorable and easily accessed location. Make your weapon like an extension of yourself, something that you can use quickly and efficiently. For example, know how to remove a safeguard under stress and how to find the right button without looking. Fumbling with your weapon will only help your attacker by distracting you. Keep your weapon easily and quickly accessible. Keep it in your hands when walking alone at night, on your keychain, or if it’s in your purse, keep it in a place where it won’t get buried. The takeaway here is that you want to be able to find and use your weapon as quickly and efficiently as possible in order to avoid becoming the victim of an attack.
Fortunately, there is a wide variety of tools available that can be used for self-defense that are inexpensive and easy to find. Many items can be found on Amazon.com or most department stores or even pawn shops. Knowing which item is right for you should be based on your budget and what you’re most comfortable using.
Common Non-Lethal Weapons:
Fast strike is a tool that was recently developed specifically to be a non-lethal weapon to really hurt and repel an attacker. In theory, it could be lethal if all the right (or wrong) factors align for the “perfect storm” of attack, but typically it just hurts a lot. Here’s a link to check out more details in Amazon, and also a video;
Personal Pocket Knife
A personal pocket knife is a simple and easy self-defense weapon. You can carry it in your pocket or in an easily accessed location in your purse and pocket knives serve a variety of non-defensive purposes. States vary with the legal size of a pocket knife and where you can legally carry them so it’s important to make sure yours is up to code. It is recommended to have a blade 3 inches or larger to be more effective in a fight and to make sure your knife is sturdy and made well. A cheap knife may be friendly on the wallet but could break if too much force is used. A pocket knife is small and easy to hold but requires getting in close contact with your assailant. However, knives can be more effective than guns in a fight, as long as the distance is within 20 feet or so. It is highly recommended to take a course in order to know what to do is an attack gets into close contact with weapons involved. Ideally, a knife is used more for intimidation, but you never know if and when you may need to use it.
A knife necklace is a convenient and concealable way to carry around a knife. You can carry a variety of knives such as a fixed blade, a foldable pocket knife or even a multi-tool. The best thing is to carry something that you’re comfortable handling and using. A knife can be used more for intimidation, or to show that you’re not an easy target. In the event of needing to use it for self-defense, however, you want to make sure that you’re comfortable using a weapon at close range and that you know how to use it efficiently, without getting it taken from you and used against you.
Pepper spray is a common self-defense tool that causes severe irritation of eyes, skin and the respiratory system when properly used against an attacker. It is inexpensive and relatively easy to use, requiring minimal training. Some pepper sprays use a UV marking dye to mark your attacker, making them easier to identify to authorities, such as Fox Labs Mean Green. However, using pepper spray against an attacker will not stop them, it will simply distract and divert them. If this is your weapon of choice, it is important to have a thorough plan for after use, such as knowing when and where to run or to have an additional back up plan.
A taser is a non-lethal weapon that has a more serious effect on an attacker than pepper spray, as it immobilizes an attacker for 5 seconds or more. A recommended taster is the VIPERTEK VTS-989, which is available on Amazon.com. It has a Snatch Prevention, which is two shock plates along the side of the Taser that produces a high-voltage shock if your attacker tries to snatch your taser from you. VIPERTEK also has an LED flashlight, which can be helpful when navigating a dark area as well.
Almost every person is carrying their cell phone on them nowadays, in an easy to find location. Your cell phone can be one of the most valuable resources for self-defense. In addition to being your line to calling 911 or local police, there are a variety of apps you can download to help in an emergency as well. One is called the PANIK app. PANIK personal assault alarm activates a loud siren, flashing multi-colored screen lights, and the torchlight on your smartphone to draw as much attention as possible to your attacker. You can also use a pin code to make it so that your assailant cannot turn off the app as well. You can link it to your social media accounts, such as Twitter and Facebook, to send out distress messages to your friends and family.
It’s a good idea to carry an alarm system to notify for help in the case of an emergency. You do not have to try to fight your assailant alone. In addition to calling 911 or using apps on your phone, there are personal alarm systems you can carry such as the Vigilant Personal Alarm. It lets out an extremely loud sound, 130 decibels loud so that anyone in the area can hear the distress noise. The only downside is that there may not be anyone around or anyone willing to put themselves at risk as well.
A tactical flashlight is a pricier but effective tool for self-defense. A recommended option is the SureFire E1D Defender, which can be found on Amazon.com. It has a high-powered beam at 500 lumens which is bright enough to temporarily blind your assailant, allowing you time to get away. The light is so bright it can be effective at a distance as well. The Defender has a Total Internal Reflection (TIR) lens that allows for maximum visibility, but it also has a 5 lumens low-beam so that you can use it as a normal flashlight. It’s wise to carry a flashlight when traveling alone in poorly lit areas, especially at night. In addition to its blinding bright light, surrounding the lens is an aluminum strike-bezel with jagged edges that can be used as a fist weapon if needed.
A tactical pen is a small, inconspicuous weapon for those that are less comfortable carrying a knife or taser that can still be effective for self-defense. The Smith & Wesson Tactical Pen, which is available on Amazon.com., provides the same type of hands-on protection as a tactical knife, without a bladed edge.e.
Whichever self-defense item you choose to carry, remember that the goal of self-defense is never to win a fight; it is to survive and escape without injury. The best defense is always to avoid dangerous people and places. You should sit down and have a game plan in case you face an attack. Practice and get to know your defense weapon, and to increase your odds of escaping unharmed. Continue to practice preventative methods and only resort to using a weapon if necessary for self-defense.
- 10 Self-Defense Strategies Every Woman Needs to Know to Survive. (2017, January 03).
- Retrieved from
- From the ‘Lectric Law Library’s Lexicon Self-Defense Defense. (n.d.). Retrieved from
- Lemmon, K. (2018, July 16). Best Concealable and Non-Lethal Self-Defense Weapons. Retrieved from https://www.asecurelife.com/self-defense-without-a-gun/