One in three women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. Eighty-five percent of women who yell to attract attention to themselves and resist their attackers escape. Women who do neither of these things rarely do.

Sexual assault is something that most women fear. Sexual assault, however, can be avoided if women learn how to protect themselves both physically and mentally for situations in which rape, or common assault can occur. According to a study by sociologist Pauline Bart, entitled Stopping Rape: Successful Survival Strategies, women who were the most successful in avoiding rape were those who had studied self defense. The self defense trained group in her studey had learned to be aware of danger and respond to it earlier than those who had not been taught to anticipate their own responses to dangerous situations. It is vital, in terms of survival, that women learn how to defend themselves.

Knowing how to defend yourself also reinforces the knowledge that you are worth protecting. It gives you the confidence to project capability and assertiveness in every day life, as well as the determination to do this during attack. Self defense training also gives women the opportunity to learn how to assess, be prepared for and handle dangerous situations through the acquired knowledge of natural physical defenses and how to use them effectively.

What can you do if you're being attacked?

Your voice is your most powerful weapon - use it. If you are being attacked it is important to draw attention to yourself and your attacker and noise is the best way in which this can be achieved. If it becomes obvious that you have drawn attention to yourself, in most cases your attacker will be looking to escape this attention, and will, therefore, let you go. Personal alarms can also help you acheive this.

A woman, generally, carries many things on her which may be used to fend off an attacker: keys, fingernails, teeth and any kind of spray whether it be body spray, hairspray or mace (which is my spray of preference), and high heels.

Keys, being small sharp objects can do a lot of damage, especially when aimed at the face and neck.

Fingernails are great for scratching, again the most effective place to use your fingernails is your attacker's face.

Biting is a great way to cause pain, and anyone can do it. Bite anywhere you can.

It's legal to carry mace in New York, if it can be shown that you were carrying it for self defense. Aim your sprays at your attackers mouth and eyes. If he can't see you and he can't breathe properly, he can hardly attack you.

High heels, if you are wearing them, can be scraped down your attacker's calves and stamped into his feet. And steel-toe boots can pack a powerful kick!

All of these things are based upon the principle that if you are able to cause your attacker pain, he will be less capable of restraining, and assaulting you. So don't be afraid to scratch, bite or stomp, cause its only to your advantage!

Use these things before you try to protect yourself with self defense moves. Self defense moves, such as punching and kicking, should only be used as a last resort, as any attempt to resist your attacker will only make him angrier and more determined to overpower you. A kick or a punch that is not hard enough, or not effective enough may do this. An elbow or knee to the groin area that does not have enough force may also have this result. The chances are that if you use the methods outlined previously you may be able to successfully fend off your attacker without having to kick or strike.

The limitations of the written media prevent the showing of self defense moves: how to block, strike, fall, escape attackers' grips or respond to weapons. This is a skill that only self defense classes are able to give you.

It is important for every woman to know that she is worth protecting, worth defending. It is equally important that every woman knows how to do this! Self defense is a skill which any woman can develop. Knowing how to defend yourself reduces the mental and physical limitations that violence places on your life, and minimizes the resulting restrictions on opportunities. All women are powerful, but women who know how to defend themselves can become unconquerable!


Thanks to the Women's Self Defense Alliance, IMPACT and prePARE. And to Arial and my Tae Kwon Doe instructor for lots of valuable lessons and info!

PrePARE and IMPACT are national organizations offering self defense training to women, men, and children. They conduct women's only classes so that women can learn self defense in a positive group environment where they can feel safe and unthreatened. They teach applied self defense courses, that is, self defense that you will actually use if you are ever in a threatening situation. These classes are taught by fully trained self defense instructors.

For more information about classes and workshops, you can contact:

147 West 25th Street
8th Floor
New York, New York 10001

Or call: 1800-442-7273


2509 Thousand Oaks Blvd.
Suite 197
Thousand Oaks, CA 91362

Or call: 1800-345-KICK