Steel magnolias a primer for idiots

(August 02, 2003)


Times of India
(South Delhi Plus)
Saturday Aug 2, 2003

Women have landed on the moon, walked in space, been elected heads of state, yet they are not safe in their own surroundings. The Smile Foundation recently organised a series of workshops on the basics of self-defense for adolescent girls and women. These workshops were conducted by experts form the Delhi Police. The message was: To survive, women need to fight back.



Awareness It’s your first line of defense. Most people think of kicks to the groin and blocking punches when they hear the term “self-defense”. However, true self-defense begins long before any actual physical contact. The first, and probably most important, component in self-defense is awareness: awareness of yourself, your surroundings, and your potential attacker’s likely strategies.

The criminal’s primary strategy is to use the advantage of surprise. Studies have shown that criminals are adept at choosing targets who appear to unaware of what is going on around them. By being aware of your surroundings and by projecting a “force presence”, many alterations which are commonplace on street can be avoided.
Sixth sense call it “gut instinct” or whatever, our intuition is a powerful subconscious insight into situations and people. All of us especially women, have this gift, but very few of us pay attention to it. Learn to trust this power and use it to your full advantage. Avoid a person or a situation which does not “feel” safe – you’re probably right.

Escape it’s always your best option. Run away, yell for help – do whatever you can to attract attention. And if the criminal is after your purse or other material items, throw them one way while you run the other:

Consider action Be more assertive, leave, yell, kick, do something. YOU CAN and SHOULD defend yourself physically. Statistics clearly show that one’s odds of survival are far greater if one fights back. Aim for the eyes first and the groin second. Use the element of surprise to your advantage – strike quickly, and mean business. You may only get one chance. Even the most innocuous of items could be your key to safety Take a look around, see if you can find just five items that you could use as a weapon.

        Look for:

  • Anything sharp, like a pen, to poke and stab with.

  • Things that are flexible to wrap around an attacker’s neck and strangle with.

  • Liquids that would sting if they got in an attacker’s eyes: vinegar, sprays, soaps etc.

Picture in your mind, ways to use each of them, for example, your keys. Your house or car keys make great weapons, and importantly, you will often have them with you, and in a very handy place – your pocket, using your keys for self-defense is unknown to most people. Hold the key as if you are going to open a lock, but hold it MUCH tighter and aim to strike the sensitive parts of an attacker’s body: eyes or throat (only I extreme situations), ribs, solar plexus, groin, nose etc.