How to Protect yourself against Sexual Assault (Women's Edition)
Welcome to this hub designed for women, girls, teens and even fathers or brothers hoping to help protect a female family member from sexual assault. Sexual assault is a terrifying, traumatic ordeal for anyone to go through. Despite what the internet sometimes claims, both men and women can be raped/sexually assaulted and it is very important we all learn to defend ourselves from potential attackers. If you are a male and share concern for yourself or someone else, please seek out my male edition which is tailored to you, or continue reading here.
You should note that in no circumstance is rape or assault the victim's fault. You do not have to say no verbally for it to be assault, it is impossible to not be sexually assaulted under the legal age of consent for your country/state. Sexual assault can be anything from unwanted contact e.g. patting the bottom or being too hands-on, to full-blown rape.
Technology can be your best friend or worst enemy.
NEVER leave the house without a fully charged phone. Make sure your phone is switched on and at the loudest ring setting, when carrying the phone, don't lock your headphones into it so if someone were to call or it were to sound, you couldn't hear it. Make sure your phone has credit in it or your contract is paid so you can contact someone and have all the essential numbers on speed dial.
Whilst your phone/ tablet/ music player can be a valuable tool, they can also make you very vulnerable. When out walking, especially alone or at night/ in a secluded area, try to avoid having your earphones in. Attackers look for people who are distracted. Your ears react faster than your eyes. If you hear something you can turn quickly/ run and escape than if you see someone, your ears do not lie. Avoid walking and texting on your phone or being glued to a piece of technology, you aren't looking where you're going, you are distracted, you may not be able to hear properly with music playing and therefore you are a much easier target than the girl walking along with no phone, her head up and her ears free.
Take some classes in your local area to study how to defend yourself. They offer anti-rape lessons and get in as much practise as possible. You could take karate or join the wrestling/boxing club which can offer valuable technique as well as improve fitness. Don't allow anyone to tell you that because you are female you can't fight/ you're weak/ can't fight off a man. You can fight, even if you need to build up some strength, you can still defend yourself.
If you can't afford lessons or can't take them, turn to the internet for help. Whilst it won't be as good as a teacher, you can still learn and practise your new skills and new hobby for improvement. Something is better than nothing, you won't be arrested for using self-defence against an attacker.
Hot spots for an attack: Throat, groin, eyes, nose, foot.
If someone attacks, block your chest and your throat, keep your chin tucked in and balance your weight. If you can't run, you need to learn to disable someone before they can disable you. An attacker may stop when they realise you are willing to fight.
Being Alert and Aware
If you walk with your head up, walk with purpose, keep your eyes open and your ears free of music, you are less likely to be attacked. Someone that looks confident, like they have something to do and they are aware of everything that's going on is less likely to be attacked. They are more likely to see an attacker, hear someone sneaking up and more likely to escape before an attack can happen. Even if you don't know where you're going, look as though you do. Look strong and important and if in doubt and you feel like you're being followed, walk into a public place such as a restaurant and pull out your phone when in safety. If you can't get inside, pretend to answer the phone and talk loudly saying you will meet your parent/ sibling/ friend just around the corner.
If someone is following you and you can't get to safety, phone the police or someone to get you immediately. If you can, jump on a bus or flag down a taxi.
Always make sure you research an area before you go, try to stay in twos or small groups and know how to get from point A to B without hassle.Know the area you are in and let other people know exactly where you are. Lying to your parents isn't cool and if you go missing and are terrified and assaulted, they won't know you're missing until hours/days later.
If someone approaches you and starts behaving in an inappropriate way, tell them to leave you alone you are not interested. Make it very clear to them. I they pursue you, do not back down. Be tough. Attackers typically go for the weakest most vulnerable person around, if you seem like a tough girl that can handle herself and will fight back and make lots of noise, you are not a good target. That punk rocker attitude is hard, edgy, cool and fearless. Be confident, clear and intelligent, make it known to the person you know they are planning to assault you, look them directly in the eye and make it known you are looking at their clothing and taking note, you know them, you could report them easily.
If someone keeps hassling you, report it to the club/restaurant manager, report to your teachers or phone the police. You are well within your rights to do so if you feel threatened. Never let someone disrespect you in person or online, shutting them down and helping to change the way some men view women (as objects for the taking and not humans) you could save your own life and someone else's.
Don't giggle it off and brush someone away because they are being overly flirty. Be cold, be strong and do not back down. These men will try to manipulate you, guilty trip you and gain sympathy from you looking for a little kiss or a hug or to walk you somewhere, they don't want to be nice to you at all, they want to rape you and possibly kill you or allow their friends on you as well. Not everyone you meet is going to do this, but you must be clear to shut unwanted attention down immediately.
Use your key fob to blare your car alarm, scream your lungs out, shout for help, thrash and hit or bang against anything. Scream for help, scream rape, scream fire, scream for the police. Try anything. Attackers hate noise, it draws attention. Your ears work faster than your eyes. If someone can hear you, they may be able to help you.
This all ties in with being aware. If you see someone following you, get away, jump on a bus, walk into a crowd, go inside somewhere. Make sure you look directly at them, if you are far enough away, stop for a moment and square them down. They may turn and walk off. Do not show this person fear. You can pull out your phone and activate your keypad and make it visible to them, if they see you do it, it might deter them.
Make it known to other people around you that the attention you are receiving is not wanted and stress this fact loudly. Your voice is your weapon.
Be prepared to scream, be prepared to reach for a can of deodorant or your alarm, mentally prepare yourself.
Wear safe clothing. Whilst you shouldn't change the way you look or get rid of a beautiful skirt out of fear, be more selective about what you wear. Don't go to a guy's house (or allow your daughter to) in elasticated waists, skirts, dresses, etc. If you are out walking alone at night or somewhere you don't know, wear appropriate clothing. Attackers want to grab the most vulnerable person, if you are walking in belted skinny jeans, a leather jacket, a jumper, running shoes/ a high-visibility hair band you are much less likely to be attacked than someone in heels and a dress.
Always wear sensible shoes you can walk/ run in. Baseball shoes, boots (especially steel or hard-toe capped) or any form of running shoe is easier to escape in.
Regardless of how you dress, you do not deserve to be attacked. It is never the victim's fault, only the fault of the criminal that attacks them. Dress modestly, make sure you are visible and identifiable and you are less likely to be attacked. If you are fully dressed, it is harder for them to get your clothes off.
Whilst you should never carry a concealed weapon without a license or when it is against the law and I am in no way condoning you to do this, or to attack someone. You are well within your rights to use items for self-defence and these could be easy things in your bag, even just to carry them might make you feel safer:
- Deodorant/ sprays - can temporarily blind or suffocate your attacker.
- Metal nail file/ scissors.
- Steel toe- capped boots.
- Rape alarm, can be purchased online or from certain stores.
- Pepper spray, can be expensive.
- Books/ heavy bag.
It is not illegal to carry any of the following in your handbag, nor is it against your rights to use them against someone who is genuinely attacking you. Don't pull a weapon on someone just for flirting with you, be sure they are trying to lure you away or assault you. I stress again, do not go around attacking people, only use when/if necessary. Don't be kind to someone that is potentially trying to kill you. I highly recommend self-defence classes or some form of study.
The hair argument
Whilst it can be argued that women with short hair are less likely to be attacked as there is nothing to grab, you shouldn't cut your hair off just because you are frightened of being attacked. If you want long hair, you should have it. It is very hard to grab short hair as it will slide right through the fingers and you can pull away and run, it is much easier to grab a ponytail or longer hair.
If you want to wear your heart up, consider a tight bun rather than a ponytail as they are harder to grab. What about over the shoulder braids? a hair wrap? Hair brushed over your shoulders and clipped back from the face? Don't let your hair block your vision like a pair of horse blinkers.
Clip-in hair extensions are typically better than glue or weaves as when grabbed, they will likely come straight out of your head giving you time to escape.
Whenever possible, go in pairs or small groups. Make sure everyone is accounted for, do you want to be the reason someone wanders off and gets attacked? no. If you are going out drinking, moderate it. Have at least one person sober and make them the designated driver or supervisor whom will help make sure everyone is safe and gets home safely. Don't drink so much you are falling out of a bar, you pass out, go to the ER or are staggering around. The more intoxicated you are, the easier it is to grab you, infect you with drugs or take advantage of you. Going out drinking is probably one of the highest risk assault places in the world.
Never leave alcohol unattended or accept any form of drink from a stranger/ any drink you have not personally kept your eyes 100% on since it was served. This can also include food.
If you see a girl leaving a club and some guys are trying to lead her off, she seems completely out of it, she is on the floor or she is just alone. Approach her. Make sure you make it aware you are not drunk, this will frighten her possible rapists off. Many men wait outside of clubs for girls that have rejected them or girls they see alone and will abduct or take advantage of their state. Get her in a taxi and get her home or take her with you/ take her to the hospital or phone the police. Don't let someone else be attacked just because you don't know them, even if her male companions pretend to be friends. Do this preferably with someone with you.
Don't think it's funny to put things in other people's drinks and don't experiment with drugs yourself.
Stay together and stay in a public place, go to the toilet together and never leave someone behind, even for a day to the shops or to walk the dogs at the park. Anyone can go missing anywhere, attackers hide and often follow people until one detaches and is alone. Establish this with everybody before you leave.
If you see someone slipping something into someone's drink, report them.
Lose your trust
Even if you know someone, you have no reason to 100% trust them. Many young girls or teens are assaulted by their boyfriend or a friend whom talks them into it, befriends them, etc. You don't have to scream for help or shout no and he forces you to be assaulted, you can know you don't want it. Avoid putting yourself in situations with someone you don't know, be strong and refuse to go to their house alone, don't hang around with him in a group of his male friends, don't wander off with them.
People don't have a big flashing sign that says predator, they don't wear a specific outfit or hold their criminal record ready for the checking. You don't know who anyone truly is until investigated by the police. Ladies, be safe and choose the right sort of men. You have no reason to trust someone even if they seem nice or they are being flirty and a gentleman. Satan was an Angel once.
Did this hub help teach you how to protect yourself?
Major Points to Remember
- If someone ever assaults you or attempts to, call the police and report them. Give an accurate description, their name and any contact details if you have them.
- Always be aware, keep yourself safe and make sure people know exactly where you are at all times.
- Be sensible. Humans are highly developed creatures, it doesn't make you boring to not drink yourself into oblivion or to stay out all night when your parents know nothing of your whereabouts, sneaking out, turning off your phone or hanging about with strangers. Your life and safety is more important than anything else.
- If you feel unsafe around anyone or you don't trust going places with them, don't.
- If something is telling you to stay out of that area or you feel you are getting signs, don't go to that place and get away as quickly as possible. Your gut instinct is a valuable tool.
- If you are ever assaulted go immediately to the hospital and phone to police, have a test done on you to collect DNA samples and make sure you get the justice you deserve.
- Don't be afraid to be vocal and mean, the person trying to assault you is trying to do much worse.
- Research your local area, find out the places to avoid and parents can even look for sex offenders living near them.
- Assault is never the fault of the victim.
- Anyone regardless of age, gender, orientation, race, appearance, height or weight can be assaulted at any time. Attackers look for someone when they are at their most vulnerable.
- Never answer your door to people you don't know, don't let strangers in your house and get a large dog/ alarm system.