AVOID BECOMING A SURVIVOR
Assault crimes are frequently crimes of opportunity; however, by being situationally aware and having self-defense skills, you can reduce the opportunity to be a survivor of an attack. Learn how to recognize the signs something isn’t right because the moments between the first clue and an attack may only be seconds. Will you be ready to respond?
WHO WANTS TO ATTACK YOU?
Someone who wants your belongings: it could be your phone if it’s in your hand; your purse; your keys to your car; or shopping bags in your hands.
A person who wants to physically dominate you: if you show perceived signs of weakness, such as avoiding eye contact with others or looking down while you walk rather than looking around to see and assess what is around you, an attacker may view you as a high value target.
Person who wants to terrorize you, either emotionally or physically.
WHAT MAKES YOU A TARGET?
You’re distracted by something. An example of this would be using an ATM machine. To be more situationally aware, check the surroundings before you walk up to an ATM. If the scene doesn’t feel right, find another one. Look behind you just before you enter your card and PIN number; take an extra second to see if someone has come behind you. If your intuition tells you to move on to another one, do it. While using an ATM machine, blade yourself a little so the camera can see not only you, but a little bit behind you. Use any reflective surfaces to keep an eye on what’s behind you.
You’re not paying attention. No matter where you look, people are buried in their cell phones. If you are alone, and especially in an area you don’t know or aren’t familiar with, pay more attention to what’s around you than what is on your phone.
You have limited vision: such as walking or running on a tree lined trail. Use all of your senses to scan and assess what is around you and if you use headphones, keep the sound at a level where you can still hear noise or voices around you, or don’t use them at all.
WAYS TO DEFEND YOURSELF
What is the number one tool you need to survive an attack? Is it upper body strength? Is it cardiovascular strength? Those things are helpful, but the most important tool you need is mindset. You must employ a will to survive and when you commit to fighting an attacker, do it as explosively and as violently as you can. Go for the eyes, nose, throat, groin and shins.
Strikes: These can be done with a closed fist (punch, jab or hammer strike) or with an open fist, such as a palm strike, which is using the meaty portion of the palm to hit the nose and chin. Elbows are also effective when in close quarters to an attacker. Knees can be used to strike the groin.
Feet are effective in kicking shins.
Make noise by using your voice. The moment someone starts to invade your personal space and you feel threatened, yell, “Stop!” Be commanding-your voice, your facial expression, your posture and your stance must all support the words you say. You can practice in the mirror to see how you do. Whether you say, “stop” or “get back”, say it with your whole being.
During an attack, you may be overpowered. Don't move. The more you struggle, the tighter the attacker will get. Fake compliance is key. Wait for your attacker to think you will do what they want and then attack. Use any leverage you can.
If someone points a gun or knife at you, run. As long as the attacker doesn’t have a physical hold of you, always run.
If you are an iPhone user, press the lock button 5 times in a row to activate emergency services (911).
Know the areas you visit or frequent by being aware of the people in them, locations of the exits, and the cross streets of the location.
Be selective with your trust when asking for directions or when someone asks you something such as the time or for directions).
Be aware of limitations your attire may present (are you wearing heels or loosely secured footwear that would hinder you getting away from someone)?
Use reflective surfaces (storefront windows and any plexiglass panels on public transportation).
While walking, to know if someone is following you, stop to cross the street. Before you cross, look left and right. See who was behind you and notice if they also cross the street.
When parking your car, try to park near: cameras; lighting fixtures; and exits. If you park your car in a garage in your home, don’t go into the house until you see the garage door come completely down and stop.
When walking to your car, have your keys ready and do a quick walk around of it. If you can’t see inside of it, illuminate the interior until you know it’s clear and you can enter it and close the car door.
Be able to recall descriptive details as clearly as you can. You can practice this any time, in any place. Observe your environment for 60 seconds then write down everything you remember. Narrow down that time to 15-30 seconds as you get better. Having as many details as possible will help the authorities working on your case and may help lead them to your attacker.
To protect yourself, learn how by taking self-defense lessons and practice as often as possible. You will be amazed at how much strength you have, and you will feel a tremendous amount of empowerment when you are able to practice your techniques against an instructor. Any skill or technique you learn, no matter how big (practicing explosive attack countermeasures) or small (playing memory recall games), should be practiced often so your reaction time to an attack will be minimized.
Michele is a part time fitness and nutrition coach. Fitness has been a part of her life for the past 20 years as a requirement for her career, and she enjoys sharing her knowledge with others. She is most passionate about strength training and defensive measures training. She believes in keeping things simple when it comes to wellness and committing to one change at a time. To follow Michele, check out her website and Instagram.
Main Photo Credit: Nomad_Soul/shutterstock.com; Second Photo Credit & Third Photo Credit: Iakov Filimonov/shutterstock.com; Fourth Photo Credit: George Rudy/shutterstock.com