No one wants to live in fear. Being prepared for any situation doesn’t mean we live in fear. It means we fear less because we are ready for whatever may come. This includes situations when self defense for women and children is needed.
The best way to deal with a dangerous situation is to:
- Spot it
- Avoid it
- Report it
Put away your phone and be looking around. Keep your head up and make eye contact with those around you. Smile and say hello, making it clear that you have seen them. This will show you are confident, unafraid, and possibly able to identify those who might intend you harm.
If you are out and about at night, or planning to be in a store until after dark, try to park close to the entrance and in a well lit area. Before approaching your car take a step back and see if anything or anyone is under your car. Approach your car from the back and check your backseat before getting in.Best way to deal with a dangerous situation: spot it, avoid it, report it. Read more here. Click To Tweet
If something does appear to be out of the ordinary, keep walking, phone the police or ask the store manager to walk back out with you. The worst that can happen is it’s nothing and you were cautious.
This is called situational awareness and is a critical skill to learn. It even supersedes martial art skills or firearm training when it comes to self defense for women.
Here’s an easy-to-remember color code to define your own situational awareness and any possible dangers. For a full explanation of each level, refer to pp. 169-171 in the book, Survival Mom: How to Prepare Your Family for Everyday Disasters and Worst Case Scenarios:
You’re oblivious and only slightly aware of surroundings, people, or events.
Relaxed but alert. Your eyes and ears are at DEFCON 3. You’re aware that danger could be lurking anywhere.
Alert and focused on a specific person or event. There’s a specific threat you’re aware of. Maybe someone or something is making you feel uneasy…you know you’ll take action if you have to.
A very real, present danger is happening now. You’ve hoped this moment would never come, but it has arrived. Your finger is on the trigger, you’re gripping the handle of a knife, a hammer, or some other lethal (you hope) weapon. You’re ready.
Teaching Children Awareness
It’s extremely important to teach children about situational awareness. When you’re with them, make a game out of building awareness. Ask questions about people’s behavior that make your children think. They don’t have to be scary questions. They just need to make your children think of the reason for other peoples actions and about appearance.
Ask questions such as:
- How would describe a character in a story based on a certain shopper or passerby?
- Why do you think that person is acting that way?
- What do you think that person is shopping for and why?
- How many people in this room are wearing jeans? How many have their hands in their pockets?
- What do you think is the relationship between the people sitting on that bench or at that table?
Questions like these will teach kids to be aware of their surroundings and it’s a fun way to keep their attention diverted during a shopping trip.
If your child expresses misgivings about going to a certain place or being with certain people, take those concerns seriously, and above all, don’t contradict or dismiss them. I believe kids pick up on warning signs more quickly than adults, sometimes.
Many household items and office supplies can be used as or create a makeshift weapon. Walk into any room and you will find that almost anything can be used to cause harm, if that is your intent. People with that intent know this already. People who don’t, only tend to consider it when child proofing an area of their home or when a moment of extreme danger is upon them.
Occasionally ask yourself, “If my life were suddenly in danger right this minute, what objects could I use to defend myself?”
You may be thinking that you own a gun and therefore have no need for this line of thought. However, there are many, many reasons why a firearm shouldn’t fill you with false security. The gun could be locked up in a different room of your home. Bullets may be stored in a different area of your home. You may simply not have a concealed carry license. Whatever the reason, it is good to consider what you have on hand that could be used as a weapon other than a gun.
On 9/11, at least one flight attendant filled coffee pots with boiling water to use as a weapon. That’s a great example of finding something, anything, to use against an aggressor. With all these, there’s an element of surprise if you act quickly and decisively.
A metal nail file is the obvious choice when trying to pull something out of your purse for a self defense purpose, but there are other weapons that are easier to find. You could use an alcohol based body spray or hair spray as you would pepper spray (aerosol bottles work better than pump bottles) or mace. A brush with sharp bristles is ideal for raking across a person’s eyes.
Sharpened Plastic Card
For those of us that don’t carry a purse, there is an item that can be used as a weapon in your wallet. An old credit card can be sharpened on one side to cause severe damage when slashed across the skin. Ouch! Just pull it out of your wallet when walking out to or from your car, and keep it in your hand.
Pens, pencils, scissors, even a stapler could be used as a weapon. Many murder mysteries have shown us that even the lowly paper weight, when made of a dense enough material can be a formidable weapon. Some employees who are not allowed to have any type of self defense weapon while at work, keep a tactical pen in their pocket.
When you aren’t carrying anything helpful, turn to Mother Nature for your weapon alternative. Sand is great for throwing in an assailant’s eyes. Rocks or fallen branches are good for knocking them over the head. Smaller sticks are ideal for gouging softer tissue areas such as the eyes or the throat.
Teaching Children Without Scaring Them
There are many schools of thought when it comes to teaching children any aspect of self defense. We don’t want our children to be afraid of people. In fact, we want them to make friends. On the other hand, we don’t want them to lack a sense of caution. It is important for children to have a proper balance between these two extremes
Instructions And Schedules
A child needs to be instructed with a very precise set of rules when it comes to safety. Don’t just tell them that they can’t leave with a stranger — make sure they understand exactly who a “stranger” is and isn’t. Just because someone introduces himself or herself or your child has seen this person around school, church, or the neighborhood doesn’t mean they are a trusted individual.
Don’t tell them you need to know somebody for them to go somewhere with that person. It would be all too easy for a predator to assure an innocent child, “I’m a friend of your mommy’s. We work together.” Believe me, predators have developed sly ways to gain a child’s trust.
Instead, instruct your child or grandchild that they must come to you before leaving a park or neighborhood area every single time. It does not matter who they are with. Have a family secret password. This helps in cases where you have sent someone for your child but were unable to communicate that to your child prior to pick up.
Also, know your child’s schedule. Know when they are staying late for school and when the bus should arrive each day. Know which friend’s home they are at, how long they will be there, and have phone numbers for the parents of all their friends. Call ahead to ensure there will be adult supervision.
Defense for Kids That Is Not Strength Based
Most of the time children are taught to be good and that violent behavior is not acceptable. It’s important to teach children that there are rare instances when it is very acceptable to respond with violence. In fact, in these rare situations biting, kicking, and slamming the back of their head into somebody’s nose is the right response.
Teach children not to flail about or try to scratch. These acts of defense rarely cause enough damage to an assailant to do them harm. Do teach children to go for soft spots such as the throat, eyes and groin.
It is also important to teach children to use their voice in a kidnapping situation. I have heard various things that could be yelled, but the most direct is that they are being kidnapped. I have also heard of yelling, “Fire!” to get people outside their homes.
There are many martial arts and self defense classes that are available that teach self defense that is not strength based.
Main Goal Of Defense
Last but not least, women and children should know that the main goal of defense is not to fight. It is to get away. As soon as there is an opportunity, run (while still shouting for help) and don’t look back. Run to the nearest place with lots of people and, at night, lots of lights, and get help.
Resources mentioned in this article
- Escaping the O Zone (more about situational awareness) by Doug M. Cummings
- Female and Armed by Lynn Finch
- Fight Back: A Woman’s Guide to Self-Defense that Works by Loren W. Christensen
- Pepper spray pistol
- Smith & Wesson tactical pen
- Survival Mom by Lisa Bedford
- Tactical pen training video
- “Teach Your Children to be Survivors, Not Prey!“