by Caitlin O’Donnell

Most people have strategies to avoid being the victim of a crime, even if it is as simple as locking your vehicle or not traveling alone at night. However, many don’t know what to do if those strategies fail. Practicing moves in a self-defense course is ideal to ensure your techniques are correct. Knowing the basics of moves you’ve never executed usually isn’t super helpful if you need to use them.

Even if a person does know how to defend themselves, criminals use lures to take the victim off their guard. Lures often allow them to get close to the victim or get the victim close to their car to give them an advantage. Getting too close gives you less room to fight effectively. Here are some common lures to look out for:

  • Asking for help carrying things, looking for a lost item, directions, permission to use your phone, etc.
  • Offering to help you. For example, helping you fix your flat tire, carrying groceries to your car, offering you a ride, etc.
  • Pretending there is an emergency.
  • Pretending to be a neighbor or salesman to get you to open your door.

In a dangerous situation, the goal is always to escape rather than win the fight. Remember that during the confrontation and keep your eyes peeled for a chance to run. Some other things to remember include:

  • Don’t be afraid to make a scene. Shouting, setting off car or personal alarms or otherwise drawing attention to your situation may make the potential attacker go away for fear of being caught.
  • Keep your keys on your person when you are walking alone or otherwise vulnerable. Having them handy helps you get into your car more quickly to escape. Also, if the attacker wants your purse, you can toss it away from yourself without giving them your keys and escape while they are picking it up.
  • If you have to fight an attacker, aim for their eyes, nose, mouth and throat. Injuries to these sensitive areas may slow the attacker down and help create an opportunity to escape. Hit them with your knees, elbows or the heels of your hands, if possible.
  • Try to remain standing during the altercation. Standing with your knees bent slightly and your weight distributed between both feet will help you maintain balance. Place your hands in front of you, palms out, to be ready to fight back.
  • If you are knocked to the ground, your instinct will be to curl into the fetal position to protect your body. However, do not curl up on your side. Laying on your back will give you a better vantage point to kick your attacker.
  • If the attacker restrains you, don’t try to pull yourself away like they expect you to. Instead, focus on attacking them with your knees, feet and elbows. Depending on how they are restraining you, stomping on their foot with a high-heeled shoe, elbowing them in the ribs or face and kicking or kneeing their stomach or groin can be effective strategies.