From One Woman to Another, I Know You May be Feeling Scared Right Now

here is a list of apps, toolkits, tips, and self-defense tactics to hopefully ease your mind when leaving the house – even though we shouldn’t have to.

first, it shouldn’t be our responsibility to stay safe – the priority should be on men educating themselves to respect us.

Sarah Everard: new CCTV footage of missing woman emerges | London | The  Guardian
photo of Sarah Everard

However, – we know that now, in this particular time, women may still be hesitant to leave their homes, especially with the tragic passing of Sarah Everard, the staggering statistic of 97%, and the countless attacks on women that we hear about on the news.

To reiterate: this piece does not serve to place the burden on women to be safe nor make it the norm to have to defend ourselves from violent men. Simply, we are taking into consideration how women may not know of self-defense or helpful apps, and to assuage them on their feelings of fear and discomfort.

However, with men not being held accountable for their actions, women are living in constant fear and sometimes self defense tactics, safety apps, and kits help to alleviate that sense of fear.

SAFETY APPS TO DOWNLOAD

These apps are quick and easy to use with many features, such as:

  • Activation of the SOS alarm by touch or voice.
  • Automatic recording and live streaming of your surroundings (audio and video) to your chosen contacts.
  • Send preset messages and your live GPS locations to your chosen contacts who can track you in real-time.
  • Fake call feature to get you out of unpleasant or threatening situations.
  • And more!

Self Defense Tactics

girl wearing karate gi sitting on pink puzzle mat

Focus on your attacker’s vulnerable areas: Eyes, nose, throat, and groin for maximum impact. Don’t aim for the chest and knees. Use all your force and aggression – Make it known that you are powerful.

Consider taking up Muay Thai, Krav Maga, Jiu-jitsu, Judo or Taekwondo classes.

Use your voice. Be loud to intimidate the attacker and create attention in case anyone is nearby.

Carry protection such as pepper spray, a personal safety alarm, or any other self-defense tools.

TOOLKITS + PRODUCTS

Self Defense Accessories

@invisawear Safety devices disguised as everyday accessories. Double clicking the back of the charm will send preset messages and your live location to your chosen contacts.

Self Defense Keychains

@staysafeladies

@she_defense

@safebabeselfdefense

@fabulyssboutique

In the near future, hopefully these precautionary measures don’t have to exist – but right now, they unfortunately may have to be utilized until then.

Instead of constantly blaming the victim for not defending themselves properly, let’s look at the men who choose to project violence onto them. Where is the rationality in blaming the victims for the unprecedented violence THEY face?

In addition, it is not just women who have to fear being assaulted. LGBTQ+ individuals and those whose genders are marginalized face the same risks of violence towards them; women of color and trans women statistically face more violence. We must stop leaving the perpetrators of violence blameless, and collectively protect those who have a higher risk of being victims. Our activism must be intersectional.

ONLY advising women to stay safe is problematic as it transfers the responsibility for a woman’s safety solely on the woman, leaving men blameless when they choose to assault women. When did it become the woman’s job to do all the preventing and protecting? We shouldn’t have to be taught to defend ourselves against those who choose to assault us.

AT THE END OF THE DAY, victims SHOULDN’T BE BLAMED for their trauma caused by predators.

Instead of focusing only on how women can protect themselves, we need to also be targeting the root cause – the predators – because as long as they are allowed to continue, preventative methods will only shift the possibility of assault from one victim to another. This is more damaging than helpful as it facilitates female victim-blaming which can stand in the way of justice and aggravate a survivor’s trauma. The only way sexual assault will completely stop, is when there are no longer any sexual assaulters; women cannot stop it just by having the ‘right tools’. change the conversation from prevention to education.

This reinforces to men the basic morals of respect for women and their boundaries, including the importance of consent and the gravity of sexual harassment. We also need to improve the justice system with the implementation of legal punishments so that potential assaulters are made aware of the severity of their actions.

One key argument against the victims of sexual assault is that they “did not defend themselves properly”. This is one of many examples of harmful victim blaming.

Yet women resort to putting keys in between their fingers for self-defense and tucking their hair in their clothes so that it can’t be grabbed or pulled as auto-pilot measures taken when preparing for a walk alone.

Shocking Statistics

A recent survey from UN Women UK reports that among women aged 18-24, 97% said they had been sexually harassed while 80% of women of all ages said they had experienced sexual harassment in public spaces and 96% of women choosing to not report with the belief that reporting will change nothing.

A YouGov survey carried out by UN Women UK found that only 4% of women report incidents of sexual harassment.

Grass-root organization, Our Streets Now, found that 72% of pupils who did report public sexual harassment received a negative response from their school, with the majority of participants saying that no real action was taken, while 47% chose to not report incidents because they were afraid of not being believed or taken seriously.

Grassroot Organizations

  • Our Streets Now @ourstreetsnow
  • EROC (End Rape on Campus) @endrapeoncampus
  • SafeBae @safe_bae
  • New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault @nycalliance
  • Island Sexual Health @islandsexualhealth
  • PAVE @paveinfo
  • National Women’s Law Center @nationalwomenslawcenter

#notallmen is nothing but a distraction.

We shouldn’t be terrified of every man we see, but it says a lot about how society has failed to make women feel safer. There are more than enough men who make all women afraid of walking alone at night, because the media has shown us what men are capable of. This is not just an isolated, one-time incident; it is a global issue.

The #notallmen conversation is essentially a disrespectful distraction from the discussion women are trying to have on sexual assault. This rhetoric is a diversion of the conversation on sexual assault that lacks empathy towards the reality that women are unable to trust and feel safe around every man they meet.

By forcing women and victims to acknowledge the #notallmen issue, it seriously damages and derails the movement. Even the fact that #notallmen was trending higher than #saraheverard shows how it prioritizes the feelings of men over a woman’s murder.

As a guy, what can you do to make women feel safer?

Women often see all strange men as a threat when they’re walking alone. We know not all men are rapists, but it is hard to decipher who is a danger and who isn’t on an unfamiliar street. Here are a few things you should do to make women feel safer:

  • Take the time and effort to educate yourself and learn about the constant struggle and fear women go through in order to protect themselves from men.
  • Offer to walk your female friends home. If they say no, don’t push them and give them their space.
  • Keep a distance when walking behind someone, try to walk in front of them or cross to the other side. If you are unable to do this, phone a friend and casually talk to them to make the woman feel safer.
  • When in public transport, if the only seat left is next to a woman, make sure to ask if someone is sitting there and whether or not it’s ok for you to sit.
  • Listen to women when they tell you they feel uncomfortable around someone (even if they are your friend), and believe them when they tell you about their experience with sexual assault.
  • Do not blindly protect your friends who have sexually assaulted a girl, hold them accountable and responsible for their actions.

Self Defense Resources

Healthline article on self defense moves with video demonstrations
https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/self-defense-tips-escape#8-moves-to-try

Article on 15 self defense techniques
https://www.ideahacks.com/self-defense-techniques/

Active Self Protection Youtube Channel- tons of videos on self defense techniques/tactics 
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsE_m2z1NrvF2ImeNWh84mw

List of online self defense classes 
https://www.verywellfit.com/best-online-self-defense-classes-5075581

List of self defense tips + tactics based on different scenarios (also has tips on self defense for) 
https://www.washingtonian.com/2016/11/07/17-self-defense-tips-that-will-make-you-safer/


Contributers: Esther Ng, Elisabeth Hoole, Jeslyn Goh, Sophia Delrosario, Keya Raval

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