Self-Defense Tips for Women

Jan. 24, 2005 — -- There are nearly 28,000 people abducted each year in the United States, and the recent abduction of 19-year-old Wal-Mart clerk Megan Holden raises questions about how women can protect themselves.

Self-defense experts Dyan Finguerra-DuCharme and her husband, Seth DuCharme, offered some tips.

Understand your environment. There are always danger spots and times you're forced to slow down, like walking through a deserted parking lot or fumbling for your keys before getting into your car. Be extra alert at these times and try to move through them quickly.

Issue a verbal challenge. If you feel suspicious about a person or situation, trust your gut. Don't be afraid to give a verbal challenge, such as, "Get away from me." This will reveal the intent of the person immediately. Yelling also attracts attention and may discourage the person from coming toward you. You can also try to "deceive and flee" -- try to distract the person's attention, for example by looking behind them and pretending to call to friends, and then running away.

Commit to action. If you are attacked, learn how to put yourself in a better situation. Being shoved into a car is the last thing you want to happen. Learn a few basic self-defense moves, like how to deflect a weapon and drive your fingers into an attacker's eyes and immobilize them temporarily.

Plan ahead. Even if you aren't a martial arts expert, rehearse a plan of action in your mind if you were attacked. If you are going to carry a deterrent device, such as pepper spray or mace, make sure it's safe and legal where you live, and train yourself how to use it properly. A high-intensity flashlight is a good tool to shine in an attacker's face.