Yesterday, my organization had the fortune of having a UTPD officer visit us at our weekly meeting to guide us through a safety and self-defense seminar. Through jokes and light-hearted humor, the officer enlightened us with ghastly statistics and what we can do to make sure we’re not one of them. For instance – did you know that 1 out of 4 women will be assaulted in her lifetime? Count the women in your life – could you imagine something anything ever happening to any of them? Did you also know that 9 out of 10 women who have been attacked knew their attackers? So, for those of you who think you’re pretty safe just because you avoid strangers like your parents told you to so many years ago – sorry for the rude awakening.
The officer told us that he couldn’t tell us the number of women that were attacked on our campus because most of the attacks go unreported. Why? Shame, guilt, fear of what people will say. He pointed out that many women think to themselves that people will ask, ‘Why did she go home with that guy? Why was she dancing with him? How much did she have to drink? What was she wearing? What’s her sexual history? Why didn’t she try to fight him off?’ Questions like these, the officer said, are what women fear will start circulating sometimes if they come forth – so what happens? They stay silent, and we’re all fooled into believing that the world is a safer place than it really is.
The important thing to remember is that – in the case of sexual assaults – all it takes is a ‘no.’ It doesn’t matter how hard you tried to fight him, or what you were doing with the guy, or what you were wearing. If you say no – that’s it. Something the officer said that struck me was that often a woman screaming ‘No! Please! Don’t! Stop’ only translates to ‘No, please don’t stop!’ to an attacker. Even if he isn’t stupid enough to believe what he wants to hear – he sure as hell may try to use it to his defense. All that matters, though, is the ‘no.’ Anything that happens past that point is an assault and you have the right to protect yourself.
A few great self-defense tips the officer gave us if you’re attacked:
- Cup your hands and start slamming his ears. If you can do it with both – the better. Hit as hard as you can, and once you’ve seen that he’s clearly distracted with the pain scorching from the eardrums you probably just destroyed – RUN.
- Go for the eyes. No, don’t try to gouge them out like you may have heard to do. Just jab them with your fingers as hard as you can and then run!
- Punch the throat. It will knock the wind out of him and if you punch hard enough, you’ll cause enough damage to buy yourself enough time to get far away. If you don’t think it did the trick – cup your hands and give him the ear treatment, and then run!
- Kick his shins. Most women assume to go for the groin, but as the officer informed my group – unless you’ve had extensive training in this area – you’ll probably miss and hit the thigh. Instead, kick those shins as hard as you can and run!
Another great tip to know is that if your attacker has a gun and you’ve gotten away by whatever means, make sure to run in a zig-zag pattern. A moving target is much harder to hit than one that’s going in a straight, predictable line. And while you’re at it – SCREAM for your life!
There are also multiple little gadgets to get your hands on – like pepper spray, a taser, or even a little personal alarm machine (that is what it sounds like – a really LOUD alarm that’ll surely get people’s attention.)
Things to remember with the tools:
- Don’t leave them in your purse or backpack when you’re walking. What’s the point of having it if you don’t have it out to use in the case of an attack? Make sure it’s out and in your hands!
- Pepper spray usually has a safety on it. Go OUTSIDE and learn to use it. You don’t want to be stuck not knowing how to use it when you need it the most. Don’t spray it too much – you don’t want to be out in the case of an actual emergency!
- Personal alarms run on regular batteries and sometimes when the batteries are exposed to a lot of sunlight – they get drained. Don’t leave it out in the sun and check it every now and then to make sure it still works!
There are a lot of things you can learn about personal safety and self-defense that I haven’t talked about. We learned loads in our seminar and we were told about some other great, FREE programs available to UT students (and I’m sure to students at other universities) that should definitely be taken advantage of!
Please check out http://www.utexas.edu/police/prevention/ for lots of great info!!