Okay so last week was big on self-defense for me. Coincidentally I ended up in 2 different self-defense type classes. We happened to invite someone in our ward who helps teach a women’s self-defense course (along with his friend, who put together the program) to come teach our young women, so this was our mutual activity for the week. I then signed up, very last minute, for an enhanced firearm conceal carry permit class. I had been thinking about taking that class for a while, but was unsure of whether or not I would have anyone to watch my kids. My brother is living with us and I had thought of him but I wasn’t sure if he would have already started his new job or not. I forgot all about it until the day before and then I decided to just go for it because my brother hadn’t started work yet and it would be free for me and I wasn’t sure when the opportunity for a free class AND free babysitter would present itself again. So it was total coincidence, but I learned a lot between the two classes and would like to share some of what I learned with you.
The self-defense class we had for mutual focused on protecting oneself against attack if you only have your body to work with, and no other weapon.
My two favorite things they said in the class are the following:
- It is NEVER your fault if you are attacked by someone else. It doesn’t matter if you are prepared or not or how you are dressed, it is never ever your fault. It is always the attacker’s fault. This is SO important to know and if they wouldn’t have told the girls this, I would have stood up and said it myself. I have seen way too many girls/women blame themselves for something awful that happened to them (back when I did PSR work) and I have seen way too many other people put even partial blame on victims of an attack by saying it was because of how they were dressed or where they were, or what they were doing at the time of the attack. No one ever has a right to touch your body if you don’t want them to, I don’t care if you are buck naked! If someone attacks you it is their wrongdoing, not yours. Do not ever blame yourself. They are the sickos and creeps and demented beings. You are not. (I am not promoting walking around naked btw, hahaha, just saying). These kinds of ideas take the blame and accountability off of the attacker by implying they had no control over themselves and their own thoughts/actions, and they make the victim feel guilt and blame for what happened.
- It is SO important to LISTEN to the spirit (they were LDS guys so they taught it this way, but if you aren’t LDS you can call it listening to your gut/instincts/inner voice). They told several stories of women who were attacked who had bad feelings several times before the attack happened, that they ignored. Feelings that tell you to not walk through a dark, unlit area, but instead go around, or to get off an elevator you are alone in with a strange man, even though it isn’t your floor, or to go back inside your work building even though you have no reason to. These women ignored feelings like this, sometimes several times, before they were attacked. It may seem silly at the time or you may be embarrassed to follow whatever prompting you feel, but just do it. Even if you think you are just being paranoid, it is better to be safe.
Here are some other tips for avoiding an attack altogether:
- Beware of your surroundings. Don’t text, have headphones on, or otherwise have distractions going on while walking alone to your car or other destination. Always know who and what are all around you.
- Walk confidently, look people in the eye as you pass them, and avoid looking down at the floor as you pass them by. Give them a bit of a stare-down as you pass by. It may feel awkward but it shows confidence and makes people think you don’t take any crap. Attackers want easy prey, not someone who looks like they’ll fight back. (He told a story of a petite woman who was getting catcalled by construction workers every day on the way to work, but then she started carrying herself differently and looking them in the eye as she passed by and they stopped. She then heard one whisper to the other as she passed by one day “we don’t mess with that one. She looks like the kind you don’t want to mess with.”)
- Don’t be afraid to tell someone to back off if they are getting too close or making you feel uncomfortable. Most attackers will strike up conversation (i.e. “do you have the time?”) while trying to get closer to you to grab you easier. Don’t let strangers get too close. Tell them they are making you feel uncomfortable and firmly ask them to take a step back. This shows that you won’t make things easy for them if they are getting ready for an attack and they are more likely to back off and go look for easier prey. If someone is following you close behind, turn around and ask them, firmly, if you can help them with something. They may not be up to anything but it is better to be assertive and on the safe side than to be too embarrassed to say anything and be attacked.
- If someone asks for your purse, throw on the ground off to the side and RUN! This will confuse/divert their attention for a moment and they will probably turn to reach for it and that’s your moment to get out of there fast.
- If someone tries to get you in their vehicle fight it and do everything you can not to. If you get in their vehicle you might as well pronounce yourself dead because your chances of survival go way down from that point.
ALWAYS FIGHT BACK!
And if you are attacked:
- Some weak spots to get at on an attacker are their eyes, throat, ears, and groin.
- Some great defenses you have are your knees, feet, elbows, head, teeth, and nails
- The more you fight, the more likely that they will give up and go find an easier target. They want someone who will be too scared to fight them off and who will do what they say. Fight as hard as you can and never ever give up the fight.
- If they have a weapon, fight them anyway. You are going to get hurt no matter what. If you fight you at least have a chance.
- If they have a gun, run away anyway. Even if you don’t run in a zigzag line (which you should) their chances of actually hitting you with a shot as you run away are like 5%. If you can get away, run away.
There were a lot more details and stories of real life scenarios but I don’t remember everything, just the big main points I mentioned above, which I think are most important. We also got to practice fending off an attacker from the ground (after having been pushed down, presumably) by kicking at them with everything we had (they had protective pads they used so we didn’t actually hurt them but could still give it our all), talked about ways to get out of different holds (usually involved kicks/knees/elbows to the groin, head butts, scraping down shins along the way to stomping on toes, fingernails to the eyes, etc), and we practiced hitting with elbows (into the pads again) using our whole body, and kicking knees into their stomachs/ribs by kicking with our knees as hard as we could, while also grabbing their upper body and bringing it down at the same time (because more force that way, if there’s movement from both sides). It was fun, we felt silly at some moments, but it was important information.
At the firearm conceal carry class I learned a bunch more that pertains to self-defense with a firearm. I probably won’t go into all the details here as most of you probably don’t and won’t carry a firearm on you so it would be kind of pointless. But I will say I learned a lot of great stuff that will help me be prepared to use a firearm properly and safely in a self-defense situation and up my chances of it working to fend off an attacker and save my life.
Here are some of the interesting things I hadn’t even thought about before:
- You should slide your feet or walk heel-to-toe when in a self-defense situation with a gun, especially in the dark, to avoid tripping over something. Your eyes need to be focused on your target (the attacker) and so it is easy to not see something on the ground and then trip. If you don’t pick your feet up from the ground and go slow, you won’t trip.
- You need to practice correcting the different gun malfunctions so when one happens you can correct it quickly and still be able to use your gun.
- Trigger-trapping. It’s something new I learned that helped me to be able to shoot about 10X more accurately. When you press down on the trigger the first time you don’t release it all the way. Just slowly release it until you feel a little click (that tells you it reset) and then you can pull the trigger again from the halfway point, rather than releasing it all the way with each shot. This helps you shoot faster and more accurately (as you tend to move the gun more when you release all the way)
- You won’t usually need to shoot from 10 yards away, or especially any more than that. If you are that far away from an attacker there is usually no need to shoot. Just run away. The point is simply to escape with your life, so if you can escape DO IT.
- You need to have a safety plan for different situations. When out and about always be thinking about possible self-defense situations that may arise and what your plan is to get out of it with your life. It may seem paranoid but it will help keep you prepared and ready so you don’t just freeze with fear and surprise when something happens.
- Speaking of plans, you should have a designated safe room in your home with a plan in case of home invasion, like you would a fire escape plan. The safe room is where the family gathers in the case of a home invasion. There should be cover (places to hide), a cell phone, a phone charger (in case phone is almost dead), a flashlight, a gun and ammo or some other weapon or even a household item that can be used for self-defense if you aren’t gun people (like something heavy to hit someone over the head with? Idk haha), a key to the house, a key to your car (in case you are able to escape you need a way to get away), and a change of black clothes for everyone (I know it seems silly but it makes a huge difference in visibility in the dark). No one should go looking for the invader(s). Stay together as a family, call 9-11, and look for ways to escape. Use a gun or other self-defense as necessary.
There are sooo many other bazillions of little details I learned (the conceal carry class was 10 ½ hours long!) that I hope to retain and practice often so it all stays in my mind so I can be prepared if/when an attack ever occurs, whether or not I am carrying a firearm at the time. I know I will fight to the death to protect myself and, heaven knows, my little ones if they are in danger and it is great to have these little tips that give me more of a fighting chance.
I want to learn to defend myself as much as possible so I can survive a potentially life-threatening situation for myself and for my family, who need me. I also want to be able to protect them as much as possible if they are in danger too. It’s worth it to figure out some sort of a game plan for situations like these.
I am happy to spread the knowledge in hopes that maybe something from this post would help one of YOU if you are ever in a scary situation. These situations come out of nowhere, whether you are ready or not. So I say, why not prepare yourself as much as possible now? Give yourself a fighting chance. It isn’t your fault if you get attacked and in a perfect world we can just tell people not to attack others, but in the real world there will always be people out there that are dangerous and want to hurt others for no reason. It is realistic to be as ready as possible to protect oneself in case of an attack, because the reality is that they are out there.
If you want more info on either of these classes, let me know. The gun class was through Snake River Firearms Instruction and the self defense class was through someone in our ward, but I’m not sure of the name of the courses they teach.