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Self Defense Tactics for Women    Return to Womens Self Defense Center

What do you do when you face a beating, a robbery or a rape? Groin grabs are what people most often 'think of' when they think of women's self defense. The issue is more complicated than one simple defensive technique. Grabbing or hitting a man in the testicles (up from the base) may work fine but use multiple techniques. You may not think you could hurt a large, muscular attacker, but you can. Everyone has weak points. The eyes are vulnerable to finger jabs or improvised weapons like pens, pencils or the like.

In rear attacks the victim should turn their chin toward the elbow of the attacker and force it down to relieve pressure against the windpipe. The victim should lock the chin down and try to keep the attacker's forearm from pressing hard enough against the SIDE of the neck that unconsciousness could occur. Then the eyes should be attacked over the shoulder, groin grabbed, or top of the instep stomped with the heel.

Rear groin grabs are often used to make an attacker loosen a physical hold on a victim but the victim should then stomp hard on the top of the attacker's instep with their heel (don't rake the side of your shoe down the front of their foot as this will lessen the damaging impact of the stomp). Then hit back hard with the elbows to the solar plexus or over shoulder to the attacker's face. You want to make it so they can't run after you, can't breathe, or can't see to run after you.


If surprised in bed you should try to jab to the eyes if you decide to fight. Notice I use the term fight and not resist. People who fight using a combination of yelling, running, and physical techniques get away from attackers much more often than people who offer no resistance. People who fight get injured (black eyes bruises, broken fingers and the like) more than people who don't resist. FIFTY-FIVE (55%) of the people who offer no resistance get injured anyway. Are you willing to get a black eye or a broken arm to get away from an attacker? Would you be willing to lose an eye or a lung to get away? There are times when it is smarter to not resist. Not resisting may be a proper choice in a self defense situation. Remember, choosing not to fight is smart sometimes also. An attacker threatening your children, an attacker with a gun or knife may put you in a situation where you think it is safer to do what he says - that's okay. When you decide not to fight, concentrate on getting a good description. Deciding what to do yourself is the key.

Improvised weapons are often used to supplement unarmed defense. A pen, fork, comb, or book jabbed into an attacker's face will often buy you time to get away.


You are most likely to be attacked during transitions where you are going from one place to another. Transitions occur when you go from your car to work or work to your home, walking to the parking lot, taking out the trash, or jogging down the road. Transitions may increase your risks but are necessary parts of life. Walking with an umbrella, dog or small child decreases your risk of attack. Pairs (or more) are less likely to be attacked than solitary persons. Remember to look around you and walk with an alert, erect posture. People who look like good victims are good victims.

Take your car key out of your pocket or purse and put it under your index finger when you go from your office to your car. You need not fumble for your keys in the dark (taking your attention off your surroundings) and you can put your key immediately into a lock (so you are not fumbling at the door long). You can jab to the eyes or face with the key if attacked since you already have an improvised weapon in your hand.

If threatened by an attacker with a knife you must consider whether or not to fight. Obviously you should try to get away if you can but whether can you outrun your assailant depends a lot on how close you are to a safe place, your shoes, your clothing, your physical stamina, terrain, etc. Never let anyone tell you what you should have done because this split second decision is up to you. It is better to have good facts on which to base your response. If escape is just a little distance away you may want to throw leaves, dirt or rocks into the attacker's face and kick his knee or groin (scary but might work). You might want to wrap your jacket around your arm and try to use that to temporarily fend him off as you yell for help "Help! Call the Police". It may also be best may be to throw or toss your wallet or purse to the attacker's knife hand as you run away. Generally DO NOT SCREAM if he is holding you because the attacker may try to silence you. This is very true in a rural setting and less true in a highly urban setting due to the proximity of help. If you decide not to fight, get a good description and remain alert for any chance to escape.

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