The fight or flight response is the way your body responds to extreme fear or anxiety. The physiological symptoms include dilated pupils, your heart races, muscles tense, your breathing becomes faster and shallower, and you may clench your fists.
Hormones trigger your body to run from the threat or confront it. Neither response is wrong; you just need to know when to run and when to say and fight. Escape is always best for personal defense if it’s a viable option. Every situation is different. Here are some self-defense strategies to use for personal safety.
While you can’t always avoid a confrontation, there are measures you can take to prevent many attacks.
- Always pay attention to your surroundings
- Avoid dangerous people and places
- Don’t make yourself a target
- Create distance or escape if someone threatens you
- Don’t provoke, argue, or escalate a verbal confrontation
- Protect your private areas
- If you can’t get away from a threat give up your valuables or money
For someone to attack you, they must have the intent, opportunity, and means. If one element is missing, then he can’t attack. Avoiding criminals is the best solution, but that’s not always possible.
If someone chooses you as a target, you can still deny them the opportunity to assault you. If you pay attention to your surroundings and pick up on the warning signs, you’ll likely spot pre-assault indicators and identify a threat before they attack. Use the environment and space to your advantage.
When You Sense a Potential Threat
If you sense danger, listen to your instincts. Many people shrug them off, but your body was wired for flight or fight.
- Assess your situation and act.
- Evade the possible threat or decide just how close it is, then consider the best course of action.
- Increase your pace, cross the street, and join other people near you.
- Look for a well-lit, public place and call 911 as soon as possible.
- If the danger is imminent scream or make as much noise as you can to draw other people’s attention to you and your situation.
- When you can call the police, report the incident. Give them the location where it happened, a description of the suspect, their last known direction of travel, and vehicle description if there was one.
- Being aware also means looking out for other people in trouble. If you see someone else who needs help, call 911 immediately.
Safety Tips to Protect Yourself, Your Home, and Your Family
There are general safety precautions you can take that may save your life and your family.
1. Cover Peepholes in Doors
When you stay somewhere with a peephole, cover it with a crumpled tissue or anything else handy. Obscuring the peephole keeps people from looking into your hotel room. If you have a peephole in your door at home, always assume that people can look through it. Put a cover over it because most one-way peephole technology isn’t foolproof.
2. Don’t Rely on Door Chain Locks
Door chain locks don’t provide reliable protection. Burglars can break through a door chain easily.
3. Carry Your Car Key in Your Hand
Many cars unlock and start without a key today. If you have an actual car key, keep it in your hand when walking to your car alone. When you have your key ready, you won’t waste time fumbling to find it and get in your vehicle. You can also use a key as a weapon. Make a fist and hold it with the key extended between your knuckles. If someone assaults you, rake it across their skin or try to poke them in the eye.
4. Set a Nearby Address as Your Home Address in Electronics
Many electronics ask for your address, such as your GPS or smartphone. Don’t set your actual address in the phone because if someone steals your cellphone, you don’t want them to find you using it to find you.
Lock all the vital paperwork that you keep in your car in your glove box. If someone breaks in, they can get your home address easily with the unsecured paperwork in your vehicle. It may be inconvenient, but you don’t want criminals finding your identifying information.
5. Enable the Remote Wipe Feature on Your Smartphone
Some people don’t even know that this feature exists. If someone does manage to steal your smartphone, you can erase all of the sensitive information in it remotely. Think of all the data that you keep in your cellphone such as appointments, the kids’ schedule, confidential contact information, and more.
6. Check for Hidden Cameras and Skimmers
People determined to steal your money or information find creative ways. As technology advances, fraudsters find more innovative ways to rob people. More and more places are finding skimmers attached to the credit card machines and ATMs such as gas stations and banks.
Look carefully at these machines before you use them. If it appears that someone tampered with it, notify the business immediately. Also, examine machines that scan your biometric information to see if they look altered. If you have any doubt, don’t use the computer.
7. Lock Up Prescription Medicines Out of Sight of Visitors
If you take narcotics or other addictive medicines, store them in places out of the reach of visitors. Many people suffer from dangerous addictions, and your housekeeper, plumber, neighbor, or anyone may mark your house for a burglary if they know the medicines you take.
The key to personal safety, in most instances, is prevention. Many people teach techniques and physical moves for self-defense but never focus on ways to avoid confrontation. Deny an assailant any one of the three elements; intent, means, and opportunity and they can’t attack. Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll protect yourself from most harm. We’re taught to be tough and stay and fight, but many times flight is the better option.