Community violence affects us all in one way or another. According to the CDC, 1.5 million people are treated for assault in emergency rooms across the US each year.*
Sadly, much of this violence is perpetrated by someone the victim knows. In the US, about 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men have experienced sexual or physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner.** Globally, almost 1 in 3 women has been the victim of intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence, according to UN Women.***
So what can you do to avoid becoming the victim of violence and protect yourself from a known or unknown assailant? Knowing how to defend yourself from an attacker or in a fight is an important skill to possess, which is why self-defense for women is so vital.
Of course, it goes without saying that prevention is even more important than self-defense for women. Men and women alike can avoid the need to use self-defense tactics by taking a few precautions to avoid finding themselves in a dangerous situation.
Situational awareness is key. While being aware of your situation is, unfortunately, not always enough to prevent something tragic from happening, it’s still smart to be mindful of your environment when out and about. Stay alert when in a public setting or walking from place to place; don’t wear headphones or get distracted by your phone. Keep to well-lit areas at night, and make sure others can see and hear you whenever possible.
Be sure to set strong boundaries with people too. If someone makes you feel uncomfortable, ask yourself why. Verbally communicate your boundaries and what you are and aren’t comfortable with, and if someone can’t respect that, ask yourself if they should be in your life.
10 Self-Defense Techniques for Women:
With that said, here are our 10 best self-defense tips for women that can help keep you safe:
- Know the human body’s weak points.
- Familiarize yourself with some basic self-defense moves, like the groin kick.
- Rotate your wrists to free your hands.
- Drop low if you’re grabbed from behind.
- Focus on the thumbs if you’re being choked.
- Fight with your head if you’ve been grabbed from the front.
- Use your elbows if you’re grabbed from the side.
- If you find yourself pinned against the wall, target a vulnerable spot.
- Turn into their side if you’re in a headlock.
- Arm yourself with the best self-defense tools.
Learn more about how to use each of these self-defense techniques below.
1. Know the human body’s weak points.
All self-defense is based on knowing your attacker’s most vulnerable spots. Whenever possible, strike your attacker in the eyes, nose, throat, solar plexus (below the ribs, in the pit of the stomach), groin and knees.
Each self-defense technique covered here will be focused on attacking one or more of these weak points.
2. Familiarize yourself with some basic self-defense moves, like the groin kick.
There are quite a few basic self-defense moves and maneuvers that can be applied in a variety of ways to protect yourself.
The groin is perhaps the most obvious point of attack and will almost always be your first line of defense. A swift groin kick can temporarily paralyze your attacker, giving you time to run away and seek help. If they are running toward you, you can kick them with your foot, but if they are closer, you may have more luck bringing your knee up and slamming it into the groin area. A foot or knee to the groin is a highly effective self-defense technique.
Another option if they are running toward you is to drive your foot into the ground, thrust your hip and fist forward, and punch them as hard as you can in a vulnerable spot.
If you can get ahold of your attacker’s hand, grab two fingers with each hand, pull them apart and bend their wrist.
If you are close to your attacker, you can use your hands or fingers to punch or push them in the throat or Adam’s apple.
3. Rotate your wrists to free your hands.
If your attacker is holding onto your hands or wrists and won’t let go, try twisting your arm toward their thumb and then yanking your hand free.
4. Drop low if you’re grabbed from behind.
If someone has you in a bear hug from behind, try to drop down as low as you can, without falling to the ground so that you can run away. Lowering your center of gravity can make it harder for someone to keep hold of you. If you can’t drop low, tuck your chin to your chest and then throw your head back to hit them in the face, in hopes of stunning them for a second. Then, quickly turn around and elbow their face, or bend over to grab their leg and pull it up so they fall back to the ground.
5. Focus on the thumbs if you’re being choked.
If you’re actively being choked, you’ll need to act fast as you’ll only have a few seconds before you start to lose oxygen. Instead of bringing your hands to your neck and trying to pull their hands away, just focus on their thumbs. If you can use your hands like hooks to pry their thumbs away, it will be harder for them to keep choking you, which will buy you some time to fight back. If you can use your feet to kick them while you’re pulling on their thumbs, that’s even better.
6. Fight with your head if you’ve been grabbed from the front.
If you’re being grabbed from the front, first slam your head into your assailant’s nose. Then, depending on what you have free, you can slam your knee into their groin or strike their chin and nose with the heel of your hand. Slapping someone’s ear with a flat hand can also buy you a few seconds.
7. Use your elbows if you’re grabbed from the side.
If an assailant comes at you from the side, use your elbow to hit them in the face, then go for the solar plexus or wherever else you can hit with an arched movement.
8. If you find yourself pinned against the wall, target a vulnerable spot.
Aim for the armpit, neck, jaw, or anywhere else you can reach. If you can’t use your hands and arms, hit with your head or your knee, or kick with your foot.
9. Turn into their side if you’re in a headlock.
If your attacker has you in a headlock, twist yourself away from them, while simultaneously using your hand to hit them in the groin. This should stun them momentarily while you use them as leverage to get out of their grip.
10. Arm yourself with the best self-defense tools for women.
Self-defense tools can offer additional protection in case of an attack, as long as you know how to use them. They range from:
- Pepper spray
- A personal alarm
- An emergency whistle
- A lipstick taser
If you opt to carry one of these self-defense weapons for women, make sure you know how it works and feel comfortable using it if you ever need to. If you don’t have any of these tools, consider what you do have; for example, rocks can be thrown at someone, sticks can be used to hit someone, and even your keys can inflict damage if you sandwich them between your fingers before you punch someone.
If you or someone you know needs help getting out of a domestic violence situation, there are several resources available to help you. For example, you can confidentially call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or visit https://www.thehotline.org/. If you’re in the Charlotte area, you can also reach out to CPI Security’s longtime partner, The Jamie Kimble Foundation for Courage, in Charlotte. The nonprofit works to stop domestic violence before it begins and provides resources to victims of domestic violence.
The first step to being safe is being prepared. For more safety tips for you, your home, and your family, visit the CPI blog today.
*CDC, "Community Violence Prevention."
**CDC, "Preventing Intimate Partner Violence."
***UN Women, "Facts and figures: Ending violence against women."