I wish there wasn’t a reason to write this post. But the sad reality is that we live in a world where crimes happen. All the time. Everywhere. Against any person.
Since moving to a big city, I’ve had to raise my guard a little and pay more attention to my surroundings. Thanks to my parents, I grew up knowing that “street smarts” were important, but one situation in particular gave me the wake-up call I needed: one day, after leaving a work training session at a hospital downtown, I found myself walking back to my car in a pretty sketch neighborhood. I ended up the being the target of unwanted comments from some men nearby and with eye contact, a loud “no,” and walking purposefully, I made it safely to my car. However, when I got to my car and drove away, I started contemplating the situation and got very angry. How dare those men talk to me like that! And even more than that, I felt completely unprepared and inadequate had the situation escalated any further. I promptly looked for self-defense classes and enrolled in Gracie Academy (more on that later).
As I have benefited from the information I’ve learned, I want to share some street smarts/self defense tips with you. This information is mainly directed toward women. Ideally you’ll have a friend or significant other with you wherever you go, but I’m sure all of us have been in situations where we’re flying solo and it’s important to be prepared.
So girl let’s talk! Here are the top 8 tips I have learned for self-defense as a single girl.
1. Create a personal bubble that absolutely no one may enter into uninvited. As a swing dancer and a nurse working in OB, there are plenty of times when I’m in peoples’ personal bubbles. But the key there is that there’s an invitation from both parties to come into that personal space. Remember in terms of safety that you are a woman and you have the right to be respected, not touched, and maintain a safe distance from strangers. Absolutely no person has the right to walk into that bubble you set for yourself. Guard your personal space, ladies, and don’t be afraid to be rude in a situation like this. It’s far better to blow someone off and to keep yourself safe.
To give you an example of this, say you were pumping gas at a gas station late at night. A man starts walking up to you, quickly, and not stopping. You notice him and immediately feel uneasy. What the heck are you supposed to do?! You can make eye contact with him, face him, and say “what do you want? Stop! Don’t come any closer!” If he continues to move towards you, you know his intentions are wrong and you need to get out of that situation. But instead of being paralyzed with fear, you have actively taken the first step to protect yourself by creating a boundary (more on this in the video at the end of this post).
2. Make eye contact with the people around you, especially those you feel even slightly threatened by. What’s the purpose of this? When we’re scared, most of us want to evert our eyes and scuttle away, but this is often the opposite of what we should do. By making steady eye contact with a person, it sends this message: “I see you, I’m aware of your presence, and you can’t sneak up on me.” The person who may be a potential threat will see that you are aware of your surroundings and not afraid to stand up for yourself. While anyone can be a victim, most perpetrators are going to look for weak, vulnerable-appearing women. They don’t want to have to work too hard, so send the message that you are no easy target.
3. Get off your phone while you’re walking in public places and don’t be distracted! Please make a habit of casually sweeping your surroundings. Not in a hyper, over-the-top way, but just be mindful of your environment. When you’re walking, know if someone’s behind you or walking alongside you. Keep your chin lifted, walk purposefully, and try to not walk-and-text. You can check your phone when you get to your destination.
4. When in doubt, ask for help. Recalling the situation I described at the beginning of this post, I could have also asked a coworker or security personnel to walk with me. I can’t stress this enough: *if you feel unsafe, ask someone for help and get out of the situation as quickly as possible.* Our gut feelings are there for a reason. Don’t ignore them.
5. Consider timing. If you can, time stuff in the daylight! Fill up your gas tank, shop for groceries, and run errands while the sun is still out. Most crimes occur from 11pm-2am, so try to be home by dark if possible.
6. Be car smart. Here’s one tip my mom taught me as soon as I learned to drive a car and started carrying keys around. Before you leave a building, always, always have your keys in your hand with the metal end pointed away from you, ready to unlock your car. You are compromising your own safety by waiting until you reach your car door to fumble around for your keys or dig for your purse in two ways: (1) your attention is averted and (2) you are stalling and giving someone the opportunity they’re waiting for to cause trouble. So put your groceries in the back, get into your car, lock the doors immediately, and drive away. In time this will become second nature to you and you’ll eventually do it without thinking.
7. Carry a self-defense item. Consider carrying a pocket knife, a tactical pen, or pepper spray. All three of these could be used in a self-defense situation to protect yourself. Know where they are and how to use them.
8. Take classes. All of these tips I’ve given you are helpful, but when push comes to shove (pun intended) I think every woman should know a few important moves if physical contact is initiated. Say in the gas station scenario I mentioned under point #1, you used your voice, the boundary you set was crossed, and now someone is trying to take you to the ground. Now what? Yeah, that’s what I was wondering too a few months ago. But after some research, I found and am recommending an excellent training course to you called Gracie academy, which is taught all over the nation. I encourage you to watch this video and see why self-defense is really for you. In my opinion, I think every woman should take basic self-defense and would benefit from a course like this:
Well friends, I hope this post has been helpful and I would love to hear your thoughts, experiences with self defense, or any additional tips you want to share. Let me know in the comments!