Walking home alone and feeling uneasy? Getting a weird vibe from a stranger on the bus? Many of us have been there.
In a January 2018 survey of 1,000 women nationwide, 81 percent reported experiencing some form of sexual harassment, assault, or both in their lifetime.
Verbal harassment was the most common form, but 51 percent of women said they were touched or groped in an unwelcome way, while 27% of women survived sexual assault.
Even if you’ve personally never felt yourself in a situation that made you feel physically unsafe, having reassurance about your next steps (and what you can do to help yourself should the unfortunate circumstance ever happen) can make all the difference.
Below are our top self-defense moves for women — complete with instructions — to help you feel empowered to defend yourself in any situation.
- Hammer Strike
Using your car keys is one of the easiest ways to defend yourself. Don’t use your fingernails, because you’re more at risk to injure your hands. Instead, if you feel unsafe while walking at night, have your keys stick out from one side of your fist for hammer strikes. Another way to use your keys is to click them onto a lanyard to swing at your attacker.
- Hold your key ring in a tight fist, like holding a hammer, with keys extending from the side of your hand.
- Thrust downward toward your target.
- Groin Kick
If someone is coming at you from the front, a groin kick may deliver enough force to paralyze your attacker, making your escape possible.
- Stabilize yourself as best you can.
- Lift your dominant leg off the ground and begin to drive your knee upward.
- Extend your dominant leg, drive hips forward, slightly lean back, and kick forcefully, making contact between your lower shin or ball of your foot and the attacker’s groin area.
Alternative: If your attacker is too close, thrust your knee toward the groin. Make sure you’re stabilized and not at risk of falling over.
- Heel Palm Strike
This move can cause damage to the nose or throat. To execute, get in front of your attacker as much as is possible.
- With your dominant hand, flex your wrist.
- Aim for either the attacker’s nose, jabbing upward from the nostrils, or underneath the attacker’s chin, jabbing upward at the throat.
- Make sure to recoil your strike. Pulling your arm back quickly will help thrust the attacker’s head up and back.
- This will cause your attacker to stagger backward, allowing you to escape their grasp.
Alternative: An open palm to the ears can be very disorienting.
- Elbow Strike
If your attacker is in close range and you’re unable to get enough momentum to throw a strong punch or kick, use your elbows.
- If you can, stabilize yourself with a strong core and legs to ensure a powerful blow.
- Bend your arm at the elbow, shift your weight forward, and strike your elbow into your attacker’s neck, jawline, chin, or temple. These are all effective targets.
- This may cause your attacker to loosen their grip, allowing you to run.