WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — Whether you’re going for a run around the block or shopping at the mall, women can become easy targets for attackers. That’s why knowing how to protect yourself is priceless.
Drew Serrano and Tracy DiGiovancarlo are both trained martial artists. Through the program Escape Alive, they teach free self-defense classes to women.
“I think it’s more about empowerment. We actually give women the power to stand up for themselves,” Serrano explained.
“You’re your first line of defense,” DiGiovancarlo added. “You can’t depend on somebody else to come save you in every situation.”
Nowadays many of us are constantly plugged into our cellphones, making us easy targets. So first off, be aware.
“Looking for out of place people, out of place vehicles,” Serrano explained. “Just looking for signs that something could be off. Maybe somebody approaching you with signs of aggression, irritability, closed fists, clenched teeth, looking angry. If you see this off in the distance, there’s a good chance you can avoid it before it makes it to, let’s say your doorstep.”
The second strategy is to put distance between yourself and a bad situation.
“If you’re walking to your car and there’s a group of individuals maybe between you and your car, walk around, you know a different aisle,” DiGiovancarlo said.
But if an attacker has already reached you…
“It’s not necessarily about multiple strikes to the attacker,” DiGiovancarlo explained. “It’s actually about escaping.”
The third self-defense strategy all women should know is to protect your head which is paramount to your safety.
“It’s easy to get knocked out,” Serrano said. “By protecting your head, it gives you more of a chance to actually think for a second before you do get injured, and maybe fight your way out.”
If a confrontation escalates, use your palms and elbows to strike.
“The first reaction people have is to put up their fists and fight and there’s a few reasons why you wouldn’t necessarily want to do that,” DiGiovancarlo explained. “One is, this announces to someone that you’re ready to fight, and with self-defense, it’s all that element of surprise.”
DiGiovancarlo says the bones in your hand are also fairly weak, “especially if you’re not conditioned and you don’t punch a lot, you could actually injure your own hand or break a bone. So the palm and the elbow are two of the strongest, or most effective strikes.”
The fifth and final self-defense strategy is to use everyday items as weapons.
“You could use your cellphone to bash, to hit to the eyes, hit to the face,” Serrano explained. “Some people’s purses are so heavy that they could knock somebody out.”
Or if you’re leaving the gym, reach for your water bottle.
“When you hit somebody in the face with that they’re going to take a step back and rethink their strategies,” Serrano said.
The Escape Alive classes are offered for free thanks to a partnership with the organization Jane Doe No More. Close to 4,500 women have taken the escape alive course. To find one in your area, visit EscapeAlive.org.