"Trust your intuition and do whatever it takes to fend off an attacker. You've got to fight for your life," said a Washington State jogger, recently attacked while on a run.
Imagine tgat you're heading out of town. Before leaving, you probably do a last-minute check to be sure you're all packed, good to go: Moisturizer? Check. Favorite undies? Check. Phone charger? Check. Self-protection skills? Hmmm... I know that should be here somewhere.
Face it: whether you're coming, going, or simply staying put, if these essential life-skills aren't part of your bag, it's time to get some!
Never mind the self-defense terminology; think of this as Feminine Protection: you'll want the full assortment, from every day lite to ultra Maxi Brand.
Most of you are already packing some protection -- it's called intuition. If you've read "The Gift of Fear" you know that you possess a built-in intelligence-gathering system equipped with warning signals that range from quiet voices in your head (uh-oh) to screeching alarms (Run!) to chilling sensations -- all of which forewarn potential dangers. It's a vital first line of defense, and it's with you all the time, which is a very good start. But not good enough.
Not everyone has shrewd instincts and perceptions -- at least not all the time. Remember, predators and victimizers (not to mention psychopaths) have majored in deception and the ability to disarm women's warning systems so that they can slip under that radar, cozy up or encroach. Even with seconds of forewarning -- which may be all you get -- an average-sized man can close 21 feet of distance in 1.5 seconds. This is precisely what happened to the aforementioned Seattle jogger. Her alarms went off and as she fled, he summarily attacked.
For those ungodly emergencies, when prevention fails or you've effectively been ambushed, you need Maximum Protection! Translation? Bang-up fighting skills cooked au jus in female ferocity. (That and whatever else you might be toting.)
Before I dish out tools for your tote bag, let me share good news: Fighting back works!
Research has shown that forceful physical and verbal resistance strategies (e.g., biting, hitting, fighting back, yelling, screaming, forcefully fleeing or using a weapon, martial arts or other physical self-defense techniques) are effective in thwarting assaults on women. Moreover, these strategies do not appear to significantly increase the risk of serious injury.
Conversely, non-forceful strategies (e.g., pleading, crying, reasoning) and not resisting (e.g., freezing) are generally not effective. Some evidence suggests that passive strategies can even increase the risk of injury.
Fighting back also has mental health benefits. According to Judith Herman, M.D., author of "Trauma & Recovery," "The women who fought to the best of their abilities were not only more likely to be successful in thwarting the rape attempt, but less likely to suffer severe distress symptoms even if their efforts ultimately failed. By contrast, women who submitted without a struggle were more likely to be highly self critical and depressed in the aftermath."
I'm not suggesting that you should always fight back in a sexual assault. There's no substitute for good judgment in the moment. Only you can assess all the variables. What's most important is remembering that you possess the option to fight, and the readiness of heart and presence of mind to back it up. This means becoming physically literate in the strategies of combat.
Should you have to choose to fight back, here are some basic principles (remember, your goal is to facilitate escape!):
- Keep it simple. Use uncomplicated gross motor moves. Bruce Lee said, "Hack away the unessential." Forget fancy techniques. Under the stress of highly charged emotions mixed with adrenaline and a rapidly increased heart rate, fine and complex motor skills vastly deteriorate.
Here's the bottom line: Decide in advance: What is worth fighting for? What is non-negotiable? Where do you draw that line?
Enough talk; let's get cracking with my show and tell!