One out of every five college women will be the victims of rape or attempted rape. Thousands more are robbed or otherwise assaulted. Avoiding becoming a statistic means taking control of your own safety. There are many things you can do to protect yourself should the need arise, but they need to be ingrained in your mind so that you can make use of them when you are in shock or are otherwise incapacitated. Here are 15 tips that will help ensure your college experience is memorable for the right reasons.
Assess the Risk
A big part of protecting yourself is gauging potential threats before they become actual threats. Do you know the people you’re going to be hanging out with? Do you know where you are and where this party is that you’re going to? Is your cell phone charged? Are you wearing a lot of jewelry? Asking yourself questions like these can prevent the need for physical self-defense.
Trust Your Instincts
Whether it’s intuition or some kind of evolutionary self-defense mechanism, humans, especially women, frequent have a sixth sense that warns us of danger. Rape and assault victims often describe having felt a feeling of foreboding or that “something wasn’t quite right” just before their attacks. One of your best defenses is that voice in your head that says you should cross to the other side of the street or go a different way. Don’t ignore it.
Taking Resistant Action Can Significantly Reduce Your Risk
Stalling or screaming has been shown to increase the risk you will be injured in an attempted rape. But direct action, like warning the attacker, fighting back, and running away can lower the risk of a rape being completed by as much as 80%.
Alcohol Lowers Your Defenses
Although date rape drugs and “roofies” get more attention and much has been made of women pouring their own drinks, rape as a result of incapacitation due to alcohol is about 18 times more prevalent than incapacitation due to being drugged. In other words, the real danger is not in someone spiking your drink, but in having too much of that drink.
Every woman’s self-defense class teaches this move. If an attacker is close to you, in front or behind, grabbing his testicles with all your strength is a simple and effective move to employ. If the attacker is wearing tight jeans, knee or punch him in the groin instead. Slapping him just before attacking the groin is a good way to keep him from blocking the move. And be ready to run as soon as you complete the move, while he is recovering.
The Three Stooges-style eye poke is easily dodged by the attacker because he can see it coming well before it arrives. But if you are able to place your hands on the side of his face and then slide your thumbs over his eyes, he won’t have time to defend it. This can be an extremely damaging to deadly move depending on how hard you press.
Give Them the Elbow
A great way to escape when having your hair pulled from behind is to turn slightly and thrust your elbow into the attacker’s face. The elbow is a very tough bone and can do serious damage. Follow it up with a kick to the groin or by smashing his foot with your foot as hard as you can, then run.
Everyday Items Can Double as Weapons
If you’re a coffee drinker, that steaming liquid in your hand becomes a powerful weapon when you pop the top off and throw it at an attacker. Ballpoint pens, keys, nail files, combs, paper clips, and hair spray can all buy you precious seconds in which to escape if you use them as weapons.
There’s No Fighting with an Attacker with a Knife
Don’t buy into martial arts videos that teach you karate moves for escaping from a knife-wielding attacker; 95% of those techniques fail. Your best defense is to throw your purse at the attacker or hit him with it, screaming loudly, and run. Don’t stop screaming, and be aware of your surroundings. Look for a crowded place to run to. If you have to physically block a knife attack, keep your arms low to block his arm. Loose clothing like sweaters can be used to entangle the knife.
Be Vigilant at ATMs
Robberies at ATMs are a huge area of crime, and college campus ATMs often have less security than a bank would offer. Don’t go at night unless you go with a friend. If you see someone suspicious lurking near an ATM, don’t use it. Knowing exactly what transactions you want to make before using an ATM reduces the time you are vulnerably facing the machine.
Have Situational Awareness
Predators look for people who are distracted or look like they don’t know where they are going. This means walking around talking on a cell phone is inadvisable. You need your focus unhindered to effectively take in your surroundings. If you park somewhere, memorize where your car is so you can walk straight to it. Also, don’t walk around with headphones blaring in your ears.
Know Where the Call Boxes Are
All campuses now have (or should have) call boxes placed around campuses for use in an emergency. All you should have to do is run up to it and push the button to be connected with campus police. Memorize where these are and don’t count on having your cell phone with you. It may be taken or dropped in a struggle.
Break His Nose
With the right technique, even a child can break a person’s nose. If your attacker’s in front of you, throw your weight into a jab with the base of your palm up under his nose. For an attacker from behind, use the elbow. A bloodied nose can disorient him and make it difficult for him to breathe.
Practice with Pepper Spray
It’s quite possible you won’t have the time or an opportunity to reach for the pepper spray in your purse. However, if you get the chance, you need to be skilled in its operation so that you don’t accidentally spray yourself. Practicing reaching for and shooting the spray helps you learn how to do it quickly and also what to expect in terms of range when you pull the trigger.
Don’t Lower Your Guard
There’s a difference between being trusting and being naive. An estimated 90% of college women who are sexually assaulted knew their attacker. Be prepared to defend yourself at all times, not just when you are with strangers.
This is a guest post by Best Colleges Online, an online college resource guiding you toward challenging, satisfying academic programs that will propel your career into the future.
Photos by StreetSense/Flickr
9 thoughts on “15 Self-Defense Tips Every College Female Needs”
Not just college students should know these moves but all women. Would be a great tool for all of us.
I feel that this is a really important point which you make Marielaina.Too many women still make statements such as “I wouldn’t know what to do if I was ever attacked.” Both of the first two replies mention the point of making all women aware of these self-defense moves and I totally agree with them, so I’ve told all of my friends to read this article.
Regarding the second posters comment regarding the groin grab (also mentioned within the article), I’ve also heard this technique being referred to as “The NO-FAIL self defense technique for women and girls” from my sister. I still remember her words to me straight from her self-defense instructor, who was a woman with 5 years Krav Maga training behind her – “Grabbing, twisting, and pulling on the testicles is probably the best unarmed self defense technique that any women can use against any man – as long as you manage to lock your fingers around the top of at least one testicle before squeezing and pulling on them, which is easiest to do when they are exposed”. I was also told that it usually causes unconciousness in under 8 seconds, and in recent years many women have found the technique extremely effective in defending themselves. It definitely sounds like a technique which all women should be made aware of…
Thank you for sharing this article with your friends, and for relaying the insight you have about the groin grab defense technique. It is so important that all girls and women are taught this technique–and taught it right–because you really never do know when you are going to need it, and when it just may save your life.
The groin grab is so effective for women to use against men that it’s even being referred to as “The NO-FAIL self defense technique for women and girls”. I actually know a woman who used it so effectively that her attacker was still immobilized when the police arrived fifteen minutes later ! It is easiest to do when the testicles are exposed as would happen in a sex attack – and if you think about it at some stage during such an attack a man is extremely vulnerable when he is exposed. Squeezing an attackers testicles (grabbing only testicle is enough) usually results in the attacker freezing in agony before passing out in under 8 seconds (don’t let go!)
As Marielaina states above, ALL women should know these kinds of moves moves.
The only thing I have to say is the groin grab, knee, step, or kick does not work on everyone. Being a guy myself, it does not work on me. I have had women friends and dominatrix kick and knee me in the groin lots of times and to their amazement, I don’t go down. Therefore, classes may want to teach other moves.
There are many men out there who hate the idea that a woman is capable of fighting back against them, particularly with strikes to the groin / testicles.
There is a very good reason that the testicle grab is taught in all womens self defense classes nowadays and female law enforcement officers. Any men out there who are worried about having such a devastating technique used against them should refrain from putting any women in positions where she is in so much fear that she resorts to having to do it.
You’re completely ignoring violent women and all the girls who have attacked a guys groin because they were mad or thought it would be funny. In any non self defense situation its a serious sexual and physical assault and it happens all to often with little public concern. If you actually believe that women can hurt men then you have to see that women can and do assault men.
I have the unfortunate experience of having to use the groin grab on a guy. I was being molested by a guy who had pressed himself against me and wouldn’t remove his filthy hands from me when I told him to, so I reached between his legs, grabbed his testicles, and squeezed as hard as I could. He went from laughing at how helpless I was to crying and begging me to let go. He lost all his strength, his knees gave out and he dropped to the ground. Then I ran the hell out of there.
Regarding the “groin grab” self defense technique to be used against a male attacker, there is actually a little trick to it… I’ve been teaching Krav Maga to women for just over 5 years now and this is a technique which should be in every woman and girls arsenal. We are a women only event, run by women, for women, and this is what we teach to women of all ages:
You’re going to take your hand and grasp between the thighs underhand. Its going to feel like you’re “cradling” the testicles. Dig your fingertips into the fragile skin BEHIND the scrotum. Then, once you have a good grip, you turn your hand into a vise, with your fingers digging inwards over and around the back of the testicles. If you do it right, you should feel the testes INSIDE the scrotum within your hand. You want, whenever possible, to hook your fingers over at least one testicle – one of them is enough.
It’s never too late to perform this at any stage of an attack, and that even includes the option of reaching down if he’s on top of you, but it is easiest to do when the testicles are exposed and closest to you where you can grab hold of them. I’ve actually met several women in my life who have fought off their attackers in this way and one did it when her attacker was on top of her and raping her at the point he lost control. Don’t ever hold back. Some women scream while they are doing this, and some women think of a loved one being harmed to help overcome any bad feelings of hurting someone else even if they are being hurt themselves. Do whatever you have to do if it helps.
Then, with your hands in a claw and your fingertips latched around the testes, you turn your hand sharply, as though you were turning a doorknob. Simultaneously, squeeze and pull the testicles away from his body as fast and as hard as you can. Do not let go of them. What happens then, is that your assailant usually screams out in pain and then tries to grab the wrist of your hand holding him in a futile attempt to try to get you to release him. Don’t. He then quicky loses one of the natural advantages he usually has over us (his strength) within a matter of seconds. Vomiting, curling over, collapsing and convulsing is common. Shock and unconciousness can set in within 8 seconds. When he collapses, which he will, get away to safety as quickly as possible and report the crime.
If done properly, and done with enough force, this technique can even lead to the testicles rupturing. It’s actually easier to do than most women believe, and just about all of us have the capability to injure an attackers testicles in this way – whether we are young girls still of school age, or whether we are great grandmothers. After all, if you think about it testicles are just small objects of extreme vulnerability to pain squishiness wrapped in a delicate flap of skin which offers them no protection at all from this kind of attack. Most importantly, this fact holds true no matter what size your attacker is, nor how strong he is. And no matter how angry he is, nor how much he’s threatened what he’s going to do to you, he’s going to drop. Don’t let anyone (usually men) try to convince you otherwise.