If you are a woman, your chances of becoming a victim of assault are greatly increased. You can lessen your chances of becoming a statistic by having the right attitude, learning physical defense tactics, and yes, even learning how to use weapons to protect yourself.
Your mind can be your body's greatest defensive weapon, so think about ways to improve the safety of your surroundings. For example, move your car closer to the building if you need to work late.
Good self-defense programs teach women to use common sense, while working to build their confidence. Many potential perpetrators assume that women will be overcome with fear.
One day while walking home from work, a coworker of mine passed a nicely dressed man standing on a corner. After turning the corner, she noticed that he was following her. Sarah turned around and the man inquired, "Can I look up your dress?" She swore at him angrily—a response he was not expecting. He quickly walked away.
An important, but often under-used self-defense tool is your intuition. Sarah sensed the nervous and hesitant nature of the potential perpetrator and she responded forcefully through her body language and voice to deter him. From a young age, girls can be taught the effectiveness of using their voices. Many programs offer classes for young children that focus on prevention tactics and the use of words to avoid being assaulted or abducted.
In another example, a four-year-old girl became separated from her guardian at the supermarket and was scooped up by a stranger. As she was being wheeled out of the store, the child repeatedly yelled the refrain, "I don't know you, I don't know you," causing the man to release her and run. As with Sarah's situation, the child used her voice to prevent an attack.
If you decide to enroll in a self-defense program, begin by checking with your local YMCA or police department, or use the internet to locate a program near you. Below are three types of programs that provide women with ways to protect themselves.
Self defense for women focuses on using natural weapons of defense, including ways to use your voice. The idea behind this philosophy is that if you have an actual weapon it can be used against you. The key to the techniques are in their simplicity.
Despite the generally superior strength of men, they are not without vulnerable areas. Women learn to target and strike at areas such as the groin, Adam's apple, eyes, and ears, in addition to learning effective blocking strategies.
There are programs for children, the elderly, and people with disabilities.
If you need a more dramatic method of learning self-defense, Model Mugging may be the program for you. The nationwide program uses men to model or act out threatening situations, such as mugging or assault. Sound disturbing? It is supposed to be. The idea behind this approach is to teach women how to react quickly and appropriately with their bodies and voices when they are in danger. Women are supposed to feel scared, and adrenaline levels are supposed to rise as the women are taught to fight off their mock attackers.
If you decide to arm yourself with more than your body and voice, there are programs that teach the effective use of defensive weapons, from pepper spray to firearms. Arming Women Against Rape & Endangerment (AWARE) offers courses at low rates that are taught by specially-trained volunteers.
Even if you decide not to enroll in a self-defense class, you can still reduce your chances of becoming a victim of a violent crime.
Self Defense in Canada
Self defense is important. AWARE website. Available at: http://www.aware.org/self-defense/is-important. Accessed March 25, 2014.
Why model mugging? Model Mugging website. Available at: http://modelmugging.org/choosing-a-course-for-women/why-model-mugging-2/. Accessed March 25, 2014.
Last reviewed March 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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