Here are some of Penny's self-defence tips.
True commitment to our survival means that we are willing to fight for our freedom and our lives, as well as for that of our families. We're prepared to fight, and fight dirty, not with the Marquis of Queensberry's rules! Squeamishness has no place when you are fighting for your life.
These tactics indeed show "no mercy", but how much mercy do you think you will get from your attacker? Mercy is a luxury we sometimes cannot afford. If it has to be them or us, let it be the attacker! This is not to say that if some drunk gets a bit "touchy-feely" at a party that we must bite his top lip off (even if you might feel like it)! You must gar your response to the level of muscle that the circumstances may warrant. We must keep reaffirming our new definition of self-esteem and self-love, enmeshing it with our right to choose who touches our bodies and how we have them touched. After all this is no more than our individual right to control our physical, mental and spiritual destiny, because, if one of those levels is violated, it inevitably effects all of the others and, indeed encourages or allows the violator to move on to harm us on the other levels.
The fear most women have is that in a threatening situation they will simply freeze and be unable to act to save themselves. But is we have planted warrior images deep into our subconscious, we will be able to summon up our fighting energy when we most need it. The physical triggers for the adrenal gland are:
- Making a lot of noise (e.g. screaming, shouting);
- Breathing deeply (when you freeze your instinct is to hold your breath);
- Moving your body vigorously, thereby letting the warrior energy flow through you).
These are the physical manifestations of our commitment.
We must visualise our source of energy, flowing through our physical and emotional blocks and issuing as action. We must learn to appreciate our fear as a stimulus for adrenalin, energy, movement, and courage.
This courage will enable us to take responsibility for our own safety and defence. If we confront our fears on this level the world will be our oyster. We'll find that many other situations that have evoked fear will be challenged, so that we can go deeper into every area of our lives.
One of my students had just met a fellow at a night club in Sydney and liked him initially. He asked her to go to a party on the other side of town. She had agreed to go with him until he started "jokingly" grabbing her from behind with his arm around her neck, playing mock attack games. She decided that these displays of dominance were not good signs of what was to come, so she cancelled the date. So, if your intuition warns you that something is wrong:
- Keep two arms' length away from anyone who tries to come unwelcomed into your personal space;
- Ask a friend to come and stay with you if you are at home alone and you get a funny feeling that there is someone outside your house;
- Leave a situation (party, office, house, car) where you sense a problem.
Some men may think rape is a man's right: 'If a woman doesn't want to give it, the man should take it. Women have no right to say no. Women are made to have sex. It's all they're good for. Some women would prefer to take a beating, but they always give in. It's what they are for.'(From an interview with an imprisoned rapist, quoted in Bart & O'Brien, Stopping Rape: Successful Survival Strategies, Oxford, Permagon, 1985, p.100.)
We must counter expectations of submission and ineffectiveness with a few little surprises of our own, such as commitment to self-determination, explosiveness, effectiveness and ruthlessness, if necessary. We must use all the strategies at our disposal. A woman willing to fight back effectively will come as a big shock to most men.
The bad news is that, if we haven't heeded our early warning signs or are caught totally unprepared, it's much harder to combat an assailant.
Distractions may be divided into a number of different categories here are some examples:
Claiming to have an infectious disease such as AIDS, herpes, or VD has also proven effective in dissuading a would-be rapist.
A distinction needs to be drawn between talking your way out of a situation and pleading or begging. Beseeching has been shown to be a pretty useless tactic because it reaffirms your position as the victim, the very position that your attacker desires to put you in. Pleading doesn't act as a deterrent at all, rather it often encourages the situation to develop. Generally, talking your way out of a situation has proven less effective than actively fighting back with commitment and intention.
One woman who was attacked by a man in a balaclava managed to escape once she was already pinned down on the ground. She told her attacker that she was having her period and she to 'fix herself up'. He raised up off her just enough so she could kick him in the groin with enough power to propel him across the room.
Don't misinterpret this statement to mean that you don't need to develop your own resources to their optimum. You do. What I mean is, this if you don't have to put yourself at risk by fighting someone off, then don't. Part of your survival technique should be to attract the attention of someone who can help you particularly the authorities.
Many women have told me that they get no response from just screaming, as many people don't take this seriously or don't want to get involved and place themselves at risk. It has been suggested that victims yell 'Fire' instead of 'Help', since it's more likely to attract attention. There may be some kind of code system you could develop within your community so that a certain word shouted loudly can mean someone is in trouble.
A list of potential weapons might include keys wedged between your fingers, a nail file, an alarm, an umbrella, scissors, a comb, a hatpin, spray perfume, rolled up newspaper, and any heavy object that can be used as a missile or a club. You could be carrying a veritable arsenal in your handbag.
Men are often afraid of male authority, so when possible threaten to attract the attention of someone who seems to have authority (for instance, someone in uniform - a security guard, bus driver, police officer).
This is not a conclusive list of self defence tips for women these are just a few. A more comprehensive listing is available in Penny Gulliver's Self Defence Handbook for Women published by Hale and Iremonger, ISBN 0 86806 497 1
Contact Penny Gulliver 0411 808 451 to order the book or email firstname.lastname@example.org