Not-So-Good Self-Defense for Women
Date Added: Jan. 28, 2001
It's no secret that sexual assault and rape are threats all women have to fear. This message is making its rounds on the 'net because it supposedly provides some valuable advice, straight from the criminals themselves, on how to avoid being a victim.
This was forwarded to me from a friend and I thought I would pass it on to you, perhaps you can pass it on as I think it is something we should all think about.
Hi, girls! I just finished taking the most amazing self-defense class, sponsored by Shandwick, and I wanted to share some really valuable info with you before it goes out of my head.
The guy who taught the class has a female friend who was attacked last year in a car park one night after work and taken to an abandoned house and raped. He started a women's group and began teaching these classes soon after.
This guy is a black belt in karate and trains twice a year with Steven Segall. He and the others in this group interviewed a bunch of rapists and date rapists in prison on what they look for and here's some interesting facts:
The #1 thing men look for in a potential victim is hairstyle. They are most likely to go after a woman with a ponytail, bun, braid or other hairstyle that can easily be grabbed. They are also likely to go after a woman with long hair. Women with short hair are not common targets.
The second thing men look for is clothing. They will look for women who's clothing is easy to remove quickly. The #1 outfit they look for is overalls because many of them carry scissors around to cut clothing and on overalls the straps can be easily cut.
They also look for women on their mobile, searching through their bag or doing other activities while walking because they are off guard and can be easily overpowered.
The time of day men are most likely to attack and rape a woman is in the early morning, between 5 and 8:30 a.m. The number one place women are abducted from/attacked at is grocery store car parks. Number two is office car parks/garages. Number three is public rest rooms.
The thing about these men is that they are looking to grab a woman and quickly move her to a second location where they don't have to worry about getting caught. Only 2% said they carried weapons because rape carries a 3-5 year sentence but rape with a weapon is 15-20 years. If you put up any kind of a fight at all, they get discouraged because it only takes a minute or two for them to realize that going after you isn't worth it because it will be time consuming. These men said they will not pick on women who are carrying umbrellas or other similar objects that can be used from a distance. Keys are not a deterrent because you have to get very close to the attacker for them to be effective as a weapon. So, the idea is to convince these guys you're not worth it.
Several defense mechanisms he taught us are:
* If someone is following behind you on a street or in a garage or with you in an elevator or stairwell, look them in the face and ask them a question, like what time is it, or make general small talk such as " I can't believe it is so cold out here; we're in for a bad winter." Now you've seen their face and you could identify them in a lineup, so you've lost appeal as a potential target.
* If someone is coming toward you, hold out your hands in front of you and yell, " Stop or Stay back!" Most of the rapists this man talked to said they'd leave a woman alone if she yelled or showed that she would not be afraid to fight back. Again, they are looking for an EASY target.
* If you carry pepper spray (this instructor was a huge advocate of it and carries it with him wherever he goes), yelling, "I HAVE PEPPER SPRAY" and holding it out in front of you will be a deterrent.
* If someone grabs you, you can't beat them with strength, but you can by outsmarting them. If they grab your wrist, pull your wrist back so your hand is in waving position (palm facing forward) and twist it toward yourself and pull your arm away. It is hard to hold onto wrist bones that are moving in this way. If he stumbles toward you and you stumble back, you can use that momentum to bring the same hand out and backhand him with your knuckles in the forehead, nose or teeth.
* If you are grabbed around the waist from behind, pinch the attacker HARD, either under the arm between the elbow and armpit or in the upper inner thigh. One of his students told him she used the underarm pinch on a guy who was trying to date rape her and was so upset she broke through the skin and tore out muscle strands - the guy needed stitches. Try pinching yourself in those places as hard as you can stand it. It hurts.
* After the initial hit, always go for the groin. I know from a particularly unfortunate experience that if you hit a guy's testicles it is extremely painful. You might think that you'll anger him more, but according to the interview with these prisoners, is that they want a woman who will not cause a lot of trouble. Start causing trouble and he's out of there.
* When the guy puts his hands up to you, grab his first two fingers and bend them back as far as possible with as much pressure pushing down on them as possible. The instructor did it to me without using much pressure and I ended up on my knees and both knuckles cracked audibly.
Of course the things we always hear still apply. * Always be aware of your surroundings. * Take someone with you if you can and if you see any odd behavior, don't dismiss it, go with your instincts. You may feel a little silly at the time, but you'd feel much worse if the guy really was trouble.
Please forward this to any woman you know; it's simple stuff that could save her life...
The narrative above contains few verifiable facts. We don't know who the author was, and the "guy who taught the class" wasn't named either. It doesn't say where the supposed interviews took place or how many rapists and date rapists constitute "a bunch."
So, the only thing I really had to verify here were the tips themselves, and some of them certainly seemed fishy. I contacted a couple of women's self-defense experts to see what they thought of the tips. First, Suzanne Pinette, Executive Director of EveryWoman's Self-defense, Inc., and Administrative Coordinator of the Association of Women Martial Arts Instructors, had this to say:
"Ok, I can't stand to read the whole thing. It seems like a colossal waste of my time, but my first impression as a member of the National Women's Martial Arts Federation Self-defense Instructor Certification Board...
"1. Interviewing "a bunch of rapists and date rapists in prison" does not constitute a scientifically compiled study. The results of such a "study" do not qualify as facts but maybe as personal observations from very biased sources.
"2. Being a student of Segal or the boyfriend of a rape victim does not impress me as giving anyone any qualification to teach women's self-defense.
"3. Most of what I read was what we call "fear-based" teaching. Most modern women's self-defense instructors use an empowerment based teaching model.
"4. There are people who are lifelong professionals at teaching women's self-defense. Many of them are women. Male martial artists who feel a desire to work on this social problem should either focus on supporting women to become instructors or they should work on changing male attitudes towards rape. They might start by learning to address women with something more respectful than 'Hi, girls!'"
Mary Eastland of Everywoman's Self-Defense has another suggestion for good tips:
"I stopped reading the article when it was forwarded to me from a list, after the first statement about hairstyle. It is simply not true. A good resource to find out how women really defend themselves would be the book 'Her Wits About Her.' Men sometimes try to come off as authorities about how to prevent rape by teaching general ideas like these. (This message) does not seem authentic to me."
Thanks Suzanne and Mary. Break this Chain!