Back to school is getting closer and with the pandemic, things feel different. We’ve seen a large increase in mothers and daughters joining us before the daughters head off to college or living on their own. If you’re in Minnesota and interested in self-defense, we would LOVE to have you! But if you’re not around us or are interested in learning, we want to share with you some of the tips that we’ve shared with students in our classes.
Set Your Own Boundaries So Someone Doesn’t Do It For You
It’s not necessarily the stranger in the dark that you need to worry about, but that friend of a friend who gives you a weird vibe. It is a sad statistic that most attacks - around 80% - will be someone you know or are acquainted with.
We often use this example:
You’re at a party and you’ve decided that you’re only going to have two drinks and you’ll get them yourself. A guy walks up to you, starts flirting, and it’s exciting. He asks if you’d like a drink and you say no. But even though you’ve said no, he brings you a drink that you haven’t seen him pour. When you tell him no again, he says, “What? You don’t trust me?” or he says, “Come on, it’s just one.”
Women and girls are often raised to be kind, to put other people’s comfort first, and to not “act crazy” or “be a bitch.” But what these things often do is gaslight people into doing things they are uncomfortable with. You’ve already said no and he is not listening.
In situations like this, you’ve decided your boundaries. If he calls you a bitch or decides that he doesn’t like you any more or is angry that you won’t accept his drink, he is not someone who deserves you - he does not respect your boundaries and that means he does not respect you.
It can be easier to think your boundaries through before you find yourself in a situation where someone pushes your boundaries. And remember - you are ALWAYS allowed to change your mind.
Listen To Your Gut
For those of us raised female, there are so many competing messages, but one of the biggest ones I’ve personally experienced is the silencing of my instincts. Follow your gut, but don’t be crazy, don’t make snap judgements, don’t be a bitch. Be nice. But what if being nice is what puts you in a situation that you aren’t anticipating? If your gut tells you something is wrong, you can believe it and act on it, even if that means being perceived as rude or a bitch.
Saying No Can Feel Scary
One of the biggest fears that we hear is that when women tell men no, they fear violence. When we talk to women in our seminars, we often tell them that over 90% of people who you stand up to will step back, 7% of people will swear and call names - these are the people that you have stopped from an attack with your awareness. Then there are the last 3% who are planning to harm you no matter what. If you look at the odds, even if saying no is scary, there’s a high likelihood that the person you are saying no to will back off.
But if they don’t...
If You Carry A Weapon, Practice How To Use It
Whether it’s pepper spray, a knife, a Birdie, or a self-defense keychain, it won’t be any help to you if it’s buried in a backpack or if you aren’t sure how to use it most effectively.
Once, we asked a person to show us their pepper spray. When she pulled it out of her purse, it was actually pointed at her face. We suggest practicing a few times a week with your weapon of choice. I personally carry a small pocket knife. While I’m watching TV, I’ll practice opening and closing the knife or putting it in my pocket and pulling it out.
If you’re interested in carrying pepper spray, Sabre Safety sells both pepper spray and practice canisters, which are available on Amazon. But instead of pepper spray, we would suggest pepper gel - pepper gel shoots farther while also not being wind-dependent.
No Matter What Happens, It’s Never Your Fault
It doesn’t matter what you were wearing. It doesn’t matter how much you had to drink. The thing that matters is that none of this is your fault.
You can set all the right boundaries. You can say no. You can fight with everything you have. We practice self defense and know that it may not work or we may freeze.
None of that is your fault.
In the last week, I’ve had a number of people say to me, “I feel like the first thing I would do is run.” And every time someone tells me this, I can sense shame, the same shame that people have when they say that their natural reaction is to freeze. Co-owner and instructor Danae is here to tell you that running isn't bad, but it's not your only option.
All Valley Self-Defense instructors have been trained in trauma-informed care and how to help those handling trauma in a Krav Maga class. For anyone with anxiety about trying Krav Maga, we are happy to meet with you in person or speak with you over the phone. To connect with us, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Krav Maga near me? There is! If you're looking for a Krav Maga class near you, Valley Self-Defense is a proud member of the International Krav Maga Federation with schools located across the United States. To find a school near you, visit the IKMF USA website.