Everything You Need To Know About Self-Defense For Women

Everything You Need To Know About Self-Defense For Women

While both men and women can be mugged or robbed, the fear of assault and violence is rife among women.

From a very young age, women are taught to be aware and careful of their surroundings to the point of certain situations becoming riddled with fear.

The fear is warranted, as more women than men experience injuries from being assaulted.

How many women experience injuries from assault? Approximately 39 percent of female physical assault victims experience injuries, compared to 24.8 percent of male victims. 

Therefore, women’s self-defense should focus on helping women protect themselves against attacks as well as injuries, and the trauma that occurs afterward. With that in mind, let’s explore women’s self-defense in greater detail. 


What Are The Five Ds Of Self-Defense? 

The Five Ds of Self-Defense basically include the five important things women should do to ward off attackers, such as if they’re walking on a dark road at night and worry about being accosted by a criminal.



This is when you prepare for a potential attack. You have to educate yourself about self-defense and train yourself to know what to do if you find yourself in a dangerous situation.

This could include carrying a self-defense weapon, attending self-defense classes, and/or choosing to avoid potentially dangerous situations. 


This step involves repelling potential aggressors and being as aware as possible of any possible attack on you.

So, it includes listening to your “gut” feeling if you think someone’s following you, being assertive and showing confident body language to show that you’re not a weak target, and so on. 


This is the self-defense practice of surprising your attacker. It can include carrying a self-defense weapon that they won’t expect so that you can escape the situation.

It could even include throwing coffee at them or poking them with your car keys. Basically, it’s about disrupting your attacker’s plan to cause you harm. 



This is your most important goal when it comes to self-defense: get away from the attacker!

This step gets set in motion by disrupting the attacker and then making your escape so you can head for a safe place. 


While you might not think that there’s a step to follow after you’ve escaped the situation, the situation of having been attacked or potentially attacked is frightening.

It warrants debriefing, so this step refers to discussing the situation with others and promoting healing, as well as reaching out to loved ones for support. It could also include getting legal advice.

How the above steps would look in a real-life example:

Sometimes it helps to learn the five Ds by seeing how they could play out in real life.

Here’s an example of what could happen: if you’re walking to your car in an abandoned parking lot at night and a man leaps out at you and tells you to get into his car, you could throw him off guard (DISRUPT) by kicking him and running to your car (DISENGAGE) so you can drive away.

The reason why you did this is that you had trained yourself to never be taken to another location in the event of an attack (DECIDE).

It’s clear to see from the above example that you might not always need all the five Ds to help you out. Here’s another example of how the five Ds could play out:

A young girl had been taking self-defense classes to know what to do in the event of an attack (DECIDE).

When an attacker tried to grab her, she screamed (DETER) and he grabbed her arm but she bit one of his fingers (DISRUPT) and ran as fast as she could (DISENGAGE).

She then reported the incident to the police and spoke to her friend about the incident (DEBRIEF). 

What Are The Benefits Of Learning Self-Defense? 

What Are The Benefits Of Learning Self-Defense?

You want to prevent attacks and know how to deal with them if they happen, but there are other good reasons why you should engage in self-defense training.

A study (via University of Oregon) has found that women who take self-defense classes feel more confident, have more positive feelings about their bodies, feel better equipped to deal with strangers, and have better security measures in place should something happen to them. 

Top Self-Defense Moves Every Woman Should Know 

Even if you don’t take self-defense classes, knowing how to defend yourself in the situation of an attack is invaluable. Here are some of the most important self-defense tips to know.

Use Your Keys As A Weapon


You’ve probably heard that you should use your keys as a weapon, such as when walking to your car or the front door of your home.

This is because if you hold them correctly they can be used as a powerful weapon. You should hold your keyring with a tight fist like it’s a hammer.

The keys should be down the side of your hand, and if you have to use them to strike an attacker you should thrust your arm downwards towards your target (via Healthline).

Another option is to hang your keys on a lanyard so that you can swing them onto your attacker, but just be sure that you get enough of a forceful swing.

Target The Four Weak Spots On Your Attacker’s Body

The four most vulnerable spots to kick or strike if you’re being attacked are the eyes, nose, throat, and groin. Avoid striking the person’s chest or knees.

These can be hard to get right and won’t throw your attacker off or be as painful as targeting their vulnerable spots. Make sure you use all the force you can execute when striking.

Free Yourself If Your Attacker Has You From Behind


If your attacker has grabbed you from behind, this can make it more difficult to try to elbow their groin or nose, so you will need to know a different move. 

  • Start by bending forward at the waist. This moves your body weight forward so that it’s more difficult for your attacker to be able to pick you up. This also frees you up so that you can strike your attacker. 
  • Use one of your elbows to strike the attacker, then immediately do the same thing with your other elbow. This helps you to wiggle out of your attacker’s grip and can injure them so that you can get away. 

Get Out Of A Headlock

If your attacker has grabbed your head in a headlock, trying to turn into the person’s side. This will prevent you from being choked.

Then, with your hand that’s further away from your attacker, use an open hand to strike their groin. This will injure your attacker so that they loosen their grip on you and it will allow you to be able to turn your head and disengage. 

How To Prevent Being Attacked: Situations To Avoid 

How To Prevent Being Attacked: Situations To Avoid

You can ensure greater protection for yourself by avoiding certain situations that can be dangerous. 

  • Being distracted in your environment. Whenever you’re out in public, especially if you’re in an isolated area, avoid being distracted by other people, your phone, or your thoughts.
  • Using ATMs when you feel uncomfortable. When you get money at an ATM machine, cancel your transaction if there are suspicious people around you. Try to slot the money directly into your bag or pocket so that no one can see that you’ve taken it out.
  • Walking alone at night. When you’re alone, you are more of a target to criminals, so avoid isolated areas, especially when visibility is poor, such as at night. If you have to walk alone, ensure you have a weapon in your hands, such as your keys or pepper spray.
  • Pulling over because a stranger is getting your attention. When you’re driving your car and someone points at it as though something’s wrong with it, this could be a setup. The best thing to do is continue driving. You can always check your car at a gas station in a safe place. Never pullover! 

Is Martial Arts Good Self Defense? 

Is Martial Arts Good Self Defense?

Martial arts is an excellent way to boost your strength and flexibility, while also helping you feel more confident. However, it’s not the same thing as self-defense. 

Some martial arts can be used as self-defense, such as boxing, but the problem with martial arts is that it’s not always practical for the self-defense you need.

For example, if someone tries to harass or mug you, you probably won’t have the chance to do a flying kick to attack them! 

With that in mind, let’s look at some differences between martial arts and self-defense: 

  • Self-defense enables anyone to learn skills to protect themselves, whereas martial arts is an excellent workout and more of a commitment. When you take a self-defense class, you will be able to learn quick and practical strategies to protect yourself. When you take martial arts classes, you have to be prepared to commit to it for a long time before you gain skills.
  • While both self-defense and martial arts will boost your self-confidence and can promote better awareness, self-defense teaches you skills on how to deal with a variety of situations whereas martial arts teaches physical fighting strategies that aren’t always used (or practical) in real-life situations. 

What Is De-Escalation And Why Is It Important? 

What Is De-Escalation And Why Is It Important?

When we think about self-defense, we might think of physical strategies that we can use to defend ourselves. But one important part of self-defense is de-escalation.

This is a verbal strategy that can help us avoid altercations and potentially dangerous situations in which we could be harmed.

It’s especially useful if you’re dealing with someone who’s extremely angry and about to explode.  

When confronted with someone who’s very frustrated and angry, your knee-jerk reaction might be to tell them to calm down, but that can actually escalate the situation!

Therefore, there are more effective things to do. These include the following: 

  • Understand the person’s emotion. If the person is in a “fight or flight” situation, they might not be able to be talked down. A good way to assess their emotional state is to ask them questions. For example, if you’ve jumped ahead of someone in a queue and they are angered, you could ask them what you can do to fix things. If they can answer you logically, then you can communicate with them. If they don’t answer you and they keep getting angry, then they’re in “fight or flight” mode, and you should try to flee the situation if possible, as the enraged person could escalate the situation into a violent one.
  • If you’re not quite there in terms of the person becoming violent, it can help to diffuse the situation by taking the person by surprise. Examples include introducing yourself, using a bit of humor, or even starting to walk with them while talking. They might be expecting anger from you, so this will help to diffuse the situation.
  • If you’ve wronged someone, apologizing is an important step to take because sometimes people just want to have their feelings acknowledged.
  • Be gentle, but firm. If you plead with the person, this can actually cause them to want to be crueler to you. Stand your ground, but don’t be unkind. It’s also good not to respond with anger as that will just cause the situation to intensify. 

Use The LOWLINE Method Of De-Escalation 

LOWLINE is an acronym for Listen, Offer, Wait, Look, Incline, Nod, Express.  

  • Listen: Listen to what the person feels and what their issue is. 
  • Offer: Offer them reflective comments to show you’re listening, such as “So, I understand that you’re feeling hurt.” 
  • Wait: Wait for the person to express what they’re thinking or feeling.
  • Look: Try to maintain appropriate eye contact without staring them down. This is to build trust.  
  • Incline: Incline your head to show you’re in a non-threatening position and you’re listening to them.
  • Nod: Nod to confirm that you’ve understood what the person is saying. 
  • Express: Express empathy to show you understand where the person is coming from. 

Related Questions 

Should you carry a gun to protect yourself?


While carrying a firearm might make you feel safer, there is always the risk that your attacker will use the gun against you. This is something to consider. 

How much eye contact is said to be too much?

Generally, aim to make eye contact for four seconds at a time. If you prolong it, you could make the other person feel uncomfortable. 


If you’re worried about how you would protect yourself if you were attacked, whether in your home or outside of the house, after reading this article you will have learned some important self-defense tips to keep you safer.

But, one of the most important things you should always do is try to prevent attacks from happening so that you don’t have to defend yourself.

This includes being more aware of your surroundings and trusting your intuition if you feel a situation isn’t safe.


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