Girls, how do you defend yourselves?

One mainly for the woman, although fellas feel free to answer to.

Do you carry anything specifically to defend yourself, like mace, a taser, gun etc? Or do you do that ‘keys in the hand’ thing when you are walking alone at night? If so have have you ever had to use it? What do you think is the best option?

And for extra credit, do you think that women should carry a weapon for self-defense, or do you think you are more likely to end up hurt by it?

If they tell you it will ruin the element of surprise.

I do not carry weapons to defend myself. I live in a city with a significant crime rate and I walk the streets at all hours of the night and day. But the chance that a weapon would come in handy is very small. I’m also not allowed to carry them into my workplace, which is what I would have to do since I do not drive to work.

Nor have I ever taken a self-defense class. I’m under no delusion that I’d ever be able to fend off an attacker given how poorly coordinated I am.

Instead, I just try to be wise. If my gut tells me that a certain street doesn’t feel right, I take another route. And I vary my route on a regular basis. I don’t walk down allies. I even avoid quiet residential streets sometimes. I try not to tune out my surrounding too much. When it gets really late, I swallow my bravado and jump on a bus. But when I do walk out in the dark, I try to dress androgynously. (Sometimes I wear a hoodie, but I may have to start rethinking that…)

<Knocking on wood> I have lived in the “bad” and mediocre parts of Atlanta, Newark, Miami, and Richmond, and I have never been victimized by street criminals. I don’t credit myself with anything. I know I have been lucky. However, I do think there’s something to be said about not living in fear. It helps to not watch the local news and to ignore people who talk about the dangerous world we live in nowadays.

I don’t do anything, either. I live in a fairly safe area. If things seem weird or off, I try to use common sense, but for the most part, I’m off guard walking around.

Resting bitch face (plus sunglasses) keeps all but the worst of the worst out of the way.

Example: Yesterday, I was walking alone in downtown Lowell. I had turned off a very busy street to one that only had a few people on it. Out of nowhere, a big dude ( 6’4", easily over 300 pounds, but really solid) put himself in the middle of the sidewalk and asked for change.

I didn’t say anything, just looked directly at him, then away. Kept walking the whole time.

He moved aside.

That might sound horrible to non-city-dwelling Dopers, and it took me a while to be able to do that. But it’s pretty normal for city folks – safety. I noticed that the guy didn’t approach the businessman, he didn’t approach the two women walking together, and he didn’t approach the younger guy. He approached the woman walking alone. It’s really easy for “giving change” to become a purse-snatching when a woman stops and digs in her handbag for money.

Most standard weapons are illegal in Massachusetts without a permit that’s a PITA to get, so I do the key thing. I also know how to do some pretty awful things to the face with a pen. I can also scream like a banshee.


Years ago I company I worked for moved us to a not so nice part of Baltimore.
Several of the people I worked with had gotten mugged, both men and women.

One day when I was walking to the bus two big guys shifted themselves on the sidewalk to block my path.
I knew I couldn’t get back to the office before they got to me. I thought about crossing the street but they looked across the street and looked back at me, so I knew if I crossed they would too.
So I walked up to the bigger of the two, looked him right in the eye and said, ‘Excuse me, please’.
The look in his eyes was priceless, this bitch wasn’t scared and he didn’t know why.
So he said. ‘Sure thing mama’ and stepped out of the way. Then he told me I was looking fine that day, I said thank you and kept on moving.

If you carry yourself in a way that says you aren’t going to put up with any shit, the assholes will go look for an easier target.

My wife does nothing but we live in a reasonably safe area. If not that’s why I carry life insurance on her.

This. And I don’t think there’s any real benefit to living in fear. I try not to take unreasonable risks, but mostly I just don’t worry about it.

I used to live in NYC. I avoided walking on streets that didn’t have other foot traffic. I had minor issues twice. Once, while walking with my husband on a road I wouldn’t have walked on by myself, and once on a subway car late at night. Both times I attempted to look tough but non-confrontational. The first time, my husband told the guy we wouldn’t give him money, the second time, a random stranger in the train told the creep to back off. Both ended with the creep wandering away.

I don’t have any sort of a weapon but I also don’t go walking alone at night. I live in a neighbourhood with a fair amount of gang activity but I’ve never had any problems with them.

I was harassed one time (by a couple of old drunks) at the bus stop in the four years I’ve been catching it. I was inside the bus shelter, alone, and they came in which blocked the opening so that was somewhat scary. I stood my ground and they eventually left. It was on a very busy road so I felt threatened but not in mortal danger.

Only one time do I believe that I was in actual danger. I was walking home from the grocery store and I decided to walk down the back alley. A white car pulled up beside me and the driver had the window open a crack and asked me if I wanted a ride. He was white, in his 20’s, wearing dark sunglasses and had a baseball cap pulled low over his face. Everything in my body screamed DANGER in a way I’ve never experienced before. I said “No” and kept walking.

A few months later a woman was sexually assaulted less than a mile from my home by, you guessed it, a white guy in his 20’s wearing dark sunglasses and a baseball cap driving a white car.

This thread reminded me that I used to carry a personal alarm that had a shockingly loud siren. I keep another one on my bedside table but I should really get another one of those pocket sized ones.

I live in the boonies, so walking at night isn’t an issue. When I do have to be out alone at night, I’m usually in my car. But whether driving or walking, I try to be very aware of everything around me. I don’t carry weapons, and I’ve only had rudimentary self-defense, but I have no issues with putting my knee in some guy’s nuts if he threatens me.

I do wish I could vomit on command - I expect that would be somewhat off-putting…

I live in NYC (which happens to be one of the safest large cities in the world), and I’m an extremely nonimposing 5’2" white girl. I’ve been traveling the city alone since I was 12 (a time when it was considerably more dangerous than it is today), and never once have I felt at all directly threatened.

I practice situational awareness, knowing who and what is around me, and avoid deserted areas by force of habit, and if something feels wonky I trust myself and nope out of there (this hasn’t happened in years though). I never, ever, feel obligated to speak, look at, or give anything, to anyone.

I used to study karate and they emphasized that in no way should you think it equips you for a street fight. Awareness and avoidance of bad situations are your number 1 defense, number 2 is running away.

Most weapons are illegal to possess in NYC anyway, but unless you practice your weapon nearly every day, its useless in a high stress situation except to harm you.

I have a small can of mace somewhere, but I don’t know where it is. My supervisor gave it to me when I was assigned a patient of some concern. I’ve gotten to know him pretty well, and while I wouldn’t party with him, he doesn’t scare me. I never accept food or drink from him, though. He’s the drug 'em and rape 'em type, not the grab 'em and rape 'em type. Plus, he’s come to think of me as his little sister, so that emotional relationship protects me, not just from him, but from anyone else he sees as a threat to me.

Mostly my strategy is to be nice and form those emotional relationships that lead people to want to protect me instead of attack me. I know that’s counter to all the normal advice, but I’ve found it works very well. I make eye contact, I smile, I ask people how they’re doing today, I laugh about the weather… I suppose that probably comes across as “confidence.”

As a home health nurse in the worst neighborhoods of Chicago, I also feel somewhat protected by my scrubs and my race. When people see scrubs, they know that I’m there to help someone, and no one, not even the worst of the gangbangers, wants a dead white woman on their block. That would bring in police and media attention in a way that 100 dead black boys doesn’t. It’s disgusting and wrong, but it protects me. I’m worried about stray bullets sometimes, and so I try to be out of those neighborhoods after school lets out, and I refuse to go there after dark, but I’m not worried about being a specific target.

Being huge, walking fast, and carrying myself as if I have a black belt in Kenpo karate (I do).

I’m not saying I could Kenpo away an attacker but there’s a certain air of confidence and awareness that comes with the study and practice of moves.

I also live in the suburbs and when I go to the city (I go to baseball games by myself a lot) I just make sure to keep with the crowd. I do keep my key in my fist.

But really, if you saw me and then saw any other woman in the world who wasn’t Lucy Lawless or part of the WWE, you would not choose me to be the woman you attacked.

Attitude is everything. I also know self-defense. Anyone who attacks me is going to get hit, scratched, and bitten, and I will scream like hell till I get away.

Attitude, awareness and a complete disregard for propriety or politeness, not the slightest concern if you’ll be offended I perceive you as a threat.

I briefly took a karate class when much younger, but quit because they basically just taught us to kick people in the balls.

Also, I WILL kick you in the balls, as hard as I possibly can, and not feel the slightest regret, I assure you, should I feel threatened.

Years ago my employer sent us to a self-defense seminar put on by the Sheriff’s department. A deputy showed us how to thread our car keys through our fingers so that the points extended through the gaps between fingers. Make a fist to hold them tight, and jab at an attacker, aiming for the eyeballs. :eek:

When I lived in The Big City and found myself leaving a mall or store alone after dark I would put my keys in my hand like this until I was safely in the car. I taught my daughter the same trick. This is about the extent of my defense strategy.

I live in a small town now, and have never felt in any danger here. I do pay attention to my surroundings out of habit, especially if I’m alone.

I read somewhere that trying to kick an assailant in the groin often won’t work because this is such a well-known tactic that many assailants are expecting such a move and are ready to foil it.

My wife is a petite sixty three year old beauty. She works for a large manufacturing firm and has early hours. Unless they put in a helipad and send a chopper for her she must drive through a pretty rough part of town to get to work. She is careful, and practices situational awareness. Still, things can get out of control. Her backup plan in this case is a concealed carry permit and a Glock 19.

I recently moved into a gentrifying neighborhood in Richmond, VA, where SO and I work from home. I am still learning to cope with the entire ‘city life’ thing. Situational awareness helps. Being attached at the hip to a (large, intimidating) hubby also helps.

I took a women’s self defense class once (armed and unarmed including shooting and maneuvers at night) and the instructor told me I was the least likely woman to be attacked he’d ever met.

I’m not Xena Warrior Princess by any means. Still the occasions where I’ve been stalked or being checked out for a rape or attack have all turned out well for me. It’s not that I look tough, it’s just that at some level I know when and how to scare people away, and when to use my sense of humor to divert problems.

I think working around horses and cattle when I was a kid helped. You have to keep your eyes open and be aware of their body language. If you can get a bad tempered horse to do what you want while ground handling it, you’re really at ease with trouble from people.