Top self-defense tips for personal safety

No one wants to imagine themselves in a situation that requires fending off an attacker, but it’s imperative that people avoid the “it won’t happen to me” mentality.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation reports that, in the United States in 2019, there were in excess of 1.2 million violent crimes, which included robbery, rape, aggravated assault, manslaughter, and homicide.

While it may not be possible to protect oneself against every type of crime, being aware of potential dangers and learning some techniques to fend off a would-be attacker can go a long way toward improving personal protection.

Self-defense techniques can be utilized by anyone. Self-defense instructors may have fine-tuned certain techniques, but these generalized guidelines can serve as useful starting points.

Learn the vulnerable areas Whether you are stronger or weaker than your attacker, the element of surprise is your friend. Blows directed to vulnerable areas can bide you time to get away. Vulnerable areas include the eyes, nose, throat, groin, and shins.

Use what you have Jennifer Cassetta, the creator of Stilettos & Self Defense, a popular self-defense program taught at colleges, corporations and conferences around the country, advises stabbing at the attacker’s arms or hands with a key or another object if you are ever grabbed. Use pepper spray if you have it.

Use strong body language Body language is a nonverbal form of communication that projects a strong and confident person. If you appear alert and strong — making eye contact with all people — would-be attackers may look for easier targets. Also, keep your composure and try to avoid appearing afraid.

Stay close and hit first Whether you are on the offensive or defensive, keeping close to your attacker might make it more difficult for that person to hit you hard. Also, striking first can catch the attacker off guard and increase your chances of escaping. Try to push him or her to the ground, because gaining balance after falling is not easy.

Even if you master every self-defense technique, remember self-defense is not about winning a fight. The main objective is to stay safe, and this may mean running away at the first opportunity. The immediate goals of self-defense are to wrench free, disorient the attacker and escape.

For more information about personal protection, seek the advice of a self-defense instructor or your local law enforcement agency.