"Woman attacked by stranger in parking lot"
"Officers investigating robbery in which a woman was punched and her purse was stolen"
"Man attacked while jogging"
Headlines like these make the news almost daily somewhere in the USA and in other countries. These cases are very real and the fear of being attacked by a stranger when you are just going about your daily business can also be very real.
Statistically, your chance of being attacked by a stranger in the United States is just somewhere around 1.3%. With these kind of odds, why should anyone take the time to prepare for something that will likely never occur? Answer: because it does occur daily and because it can occur to you! If you are not prepared, the consequences could be deadly.
But, if you take some common-sense precautions and have some ability to defend yourself, the odds that you will survive the attack physically unscathed dramatically increases. And, knowing that you can defend yourself against an attack gives you a sense of confidence and helps allay the palpable fear of being accosted.
Self-defense experts abound and a multitude of self-defense weapons exist. Many feel the best self-defense weapon is a concealed handgun. But not everyone has the ability or desire to carry a handgun and not everyone wants to invest the time to become proficient with it. And, sometimes a situation calls for a less lethal defense.
There are all kind of sharp knife-like objects that a person can carry in their hands to cut, stab, or dice an attacker. Some of these like the TigerLady Self Defense Claw and Kuba-Kickz are quite different. The TigerLady Claw gives you retractable claws like a lion so you can scratch and claw an assailant and the Kuba-Kickz are spikes you can put on your shoes so you can kick the crap out of your assailant’s shins. The manufacturer claims the shoe spikes are "devastatingly effective."
All of these defensive tools have two common drawbacks:
Most of the time they will not be quickly accessible if you are suddenly attacked (who is really going to walk around always carrying one of these tools in their hands) and they require close-up face-to-face interaction with the attacker. If someone has grabbed you and you happen to have one of these sharp-angled tools in your hand – great. Use it with no mercy to slash, claw, and stab your intruder until you repel them.
The best option and your first level of defense should always be to make a conscious effort to avoid a potentially hazardous situation if at all possible. Constantly being aware of your surroundings and consciously, as a matter of habit, avoiding locations and situations that make you feel queasy or situations that just don’t seem right is always best.
DISTANCE = SAFETY
Not all situations can be avoided by heightened situational awareness. Sometimes things just happen. If you should be accosted by someone intent on doing you harm, you can benefit from a self-defense weapon that you can deploy from a distance. This is especially true if you have invested even a modicum of time and effort in familiarizing yourself with the weapon.
If at all possible avoid going "hands-on" with a potential attacker and if you are attacked, try to put at least a few feet of distance between you and the attacker. One of the first tenants of self-defense training is that DISTANCE = SAFETY. The farther away you can get from the assailant the harder it is for the assailant to hurt you. Even getting a few feet away from an attacker is advantageous.
Three self-defense tools that can be used at a stand-off distance are the extendable baton, pepper spray, and Fast Strike – a metal whip like device.
The extendable or collapsible baton goes by several brand names but all consist of a telescoping metal rod that you can use to strike your attacker. One of the advantages is that it collapses into a 6-8" length and can be used close in, or with a good swing can reach out and touch someone several feet away. The collapsible baton offers reasonable concealability and can be carried in many pant or coat pockets.
In real life situations it can be quite effective. The effectiveness of a baton depends largely on how hard you strike the person, the location where you hit the person (arms, shoulder, head, etc.) and the rapidity of your strikes. Swift, multiple strikes, continuing until the attacker stops attacking is recommended.
Personal defense pepper sprays (also known as capsicum spray) come in many sizes, canisters, and potency. Police and security personnel have used law enforcement potency pepper spray in real life situations with mixed results. While it can sometimes be better than nothing, it has many tactical considerations. Depending on the wind direction, you might just end up getting a cloud of pepper in your face, effectively disabling yourself. In a stressful situation it is also often difficult to hit a small, sometimes erratically moving target.
The Journal Police Practice and Research recently published a comprehensive study on the effectiveness of pepper spray and concluded that it was a "suitable tool for handling low threat situations" but was not suitable for "high threat situations." You might just be better off throwing the pepper spray canister at the attacker’s face and making a run for it.
A new pepper spray product called The Defender claims to "Bridge the gap between technology and personal safety." This pepper spray canister contains a camera and a siren. When you spray the attacker, it takes a picture and emits a siren to draw attention, and hopefully scare away the attacker. It also transmits the photo to the company so law enforcement can later view the photo. And, upon activating the spray, your GPS location is automatically transmitted to the company which offers 24/7 monitoring, and the company can then report your location to local law enforcement. Whether The Defender lives up to it’s potential is unknown, but the merging of technology with old-fashioned pepper spray is intriguing.
Another intriguing self-defense tool is a hand held flexible "rope-like" metal rod that you can use to strike an assailant in a whipping or swatting motion. This tool gives you about 15" of striking distance and like with a baton, if you get a good swing, you can reach out and touch the assailant from a distance.
The Fast Strike is definitely better than having to try and use your bare hands to fend off an attacker, but carrying it requires you to put it down you pant leg or loop it around your waist or belt. This might work for some but presents definite carry limitations.
Because it’s relatively new the effectiveness in real life situations compared to pepper spray and the collapsible baton, is unknown. From watching the manufacturers YouTube video, it sure looks like this tool could put a real hurt on an assailant.
Are you prepared to defend yourself from an attacker? If not – get prepared! And, get prepared today!
There are many self-defense tools available that will give you a fighting chance if you are attacked. But, for any of them to work you need to become familiar with them, practice with them, and have them quickly accessible should the need arise.