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At Home > On The Street > Self-Defense


The best way to defend yourself is to not have to. Whenever possible, avoid potentially dangerous situations that may require you to defend yourself. If you can't avoid the situation, take preventive measures such as running away, hiding, screaming, talking the offender out of the crime, or raising an alarm.

Occasionally, though, fighting back can make the situation worse. Only you can decide whether to fight back, but preparing yourself for all possibilities could give you an advantage. Many local law enforcement agencies and community centers offer self defense classes that can help you with this. You don't need to have a black belt in karate to defend yourself - you can greatly improve your chances of escaping harm simply by thinking about what you would do in (or how you could avoid) a dangerous situation.

Some things to remember, whether you are a self-defense expert or beginner:

Your safety is more important than your money!

If someone tries to rob you, don't fight back. Give up your property; don't give up your life.

Plan how you would respond.

No one knows how he or she will respond until something happens, but think about what you might do in certain situations (such as getting into your car, home, or walking alone on the street.) Would you fight back, or would you avoid resisting and wait to escape? What could you use to your advantage? A criminal may think your cane makes you an easy target; you may know it is a great self-defense weapon.

Never go to a second crime scene.

If the person assaulting you wants you to go somewhere else with them (get in their car or walk somewhere else) avoid it at all cost! If they want to leave the area, it's because they are afraid they may be caught or you may be rescued. Your attacker is not going to take you somewhere safer, so don't agree to go with them.

Report crimes immediately.

Whether you are the victim or someone else is, report crimes to the police. Your actions can help prevent others from becoming victims. And remember, attackers are not always strangers. The criminal may be someone you know - but that doesn't make it less of a crime.

Take a stand.

One of the best ways to prevent crime is to make your neighborhood and workplace safer. Report broken street lights, clean up parks and vacant lots, and ask local authorities for better lighting, more patrols, and to pay special attention to dangerous public places. You may want to consider joining (or starting) a neighborhood or office watch, encouraging your community to look out for each other. Contact your local police station to find out what you can do to make your community safer.

Next: Special Considerations for People with Special Needs

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