Fight Back: Defense Strategies Against Sexual Assault

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Sexual assault is a devastating reality for many women around the world.

While it’s impossible to remove this problem entirely, there are many things a person can do to defend against sexual assault, from getting the right gadgets to learning how to defend yourself.

The reality of it all is tough, but it shouldn't be any tougher than it has to be. With these strategies, you can safeguard your own well-being and reduce your risk of becoming a victim.

Personal Safety Tips for Women

A woman being followed by a suspicious-looking man, to showcase the need for personal safety.

When it comes to defending yourself from sexual assault, one of the most important things you can do is to be aware of your surroundings.

This means knowing who is around you, where potential exits or hiding places might be located, noting any suspicious behavior that could indicate an attacker may be present, and having an escape plan in case something should go wrong.

It also helps to make sure that friends or family know where you're headed so that they can check in on you if necessary. Additionally, carrying pepper spray, a personal alarm device, or another tool for self-defense with you can also be especially useful.

They aren't guaranteed ways to fend off attackers, but those extra bits of protection can help tremendously, especially if you're out alone at night or are stuck with people you don't trust.

Self-Defense Techniques For Women

Self-defense classes designed specifically for women are a great first defense against sexual assault. Depending on the situation, knowing how to properly protect yourself against a potential attack can make all the difference.

While one shouldn't bank on physically overpowering an attacker, simple self-defense maneuvers such as blocking grabs or escaping holds can give you the opening you need to escape a potential assault.

It's also more effective than even some of our own bodies' defense mechanisms. For example, freezing up is a normal biological response to a sudden traumatic encounter. While it's nothing to be ashamed of, it does leave a person very vulnerable to an attacker.

By being taught how to maintain a level head and knowing how to fight back, a potential victim can break free from an attacker and escape--an option most people would certainly prefer over freezing up.

If possible, try enrolling in a martial course or attending a self-defense seminar. Although you're banking on never needing to apply what you learn, these things are still important to know anyway, especially if it's for the sake of preventing life-threatening scenarios like an assault.

Foster Healthy Environments

A women receiving unwanted advances at an office workplace, to caution against the kinds of things that can happen in an unhealthy environment.

Rape culture is still a persistent threat to women's safety, and it persists even in public spaces like their place of work. It should come as no surprise then that among the best ways to defend against sexual assault is to foster a healthy environment.

This includes empowering victims to tell their stories, encouraging bystanders to speak up, implementing policies that protect vulnerable groups, and directly challenging harmful social norms that promote or allow sexual violence.

While this doesn't stop an attack happening right now, it can make it unlikely an attack will happen tomorrow. A healthy, well-adjusted environment will make it clear to a potential attacker that this is not a place where people hurt each other--and that there will be consequences for those who try.

Risk Assessment

A women saying no to alcohol for the sake of her own safety.

Try as we might, it's impossible to surround ourselves with people who always have good intentions. As such, a healthy amount of suspicion is entirely justified, especially when we're delving into something new or uncertain to us.

Read up on the local news of a new area before you go there, and keep track of any red flags, like high crime rates or any crooks on the loose. Make it easy for you to contact any local police stations, and be certain to memorize their addresses.

We can't control how other people will act towards us, but we can try to avoid situations that might imperil us. For example, bringing a trusted friend with you is an easy way to discourage assailants from picking you as their victim, as they'd now have to fend off two people instead of just one.

On that note, be careful who you drink alcohol around, and try not to do anything risky unless you know a person you trust has got your back. The key is to make sure you're not an easy target for anyone who might try anything suspicious.

The Wrap-Up

A group of women clearly happy and safe.

It's not a safe world out there, and it'll be a long, long while before we get to the point where no one has to worry about how to protect themselves. For now, be sure to always have these tips in mind, and do what you can to keep yourself safe.

If you're curious about any martial arts you can look into to better defend yourself, there are lots of possible options out there, like BJJ. And if you just want more tips about how to protect yourself, click here.