College and University safety has always been a high priority issue and still is even more so today with student attacks being on the rise. Whether at social events, inside campuses or just walking home, students might find their personal safety compromised at some point. Many colleges are introducing self-defence strategy classes and try to equip students with safety awareness advice.
Personal security consultant Avital Zeisler, demonstrated self-defence quickness that women of any age can easily apply in situations where they are in danger. Zeisler, who is the creator of the Soteria self-defence method, said: “it was actually learning self defense that gave me empowerment and gave me courage to move forward. I’m redefining self defense for women, that it’s about you attacking life and not letting it attack you. It’s about learning how to create, how to live a life that you love but still know how to protect it”.
Zeisler appeared on the TODAY show and provided 5 basic tips on how women can protect themselves in any given situation:
- Increase peripheral vision
Widening your scope of vision will help you recognize suspicious people faster, as well as potential escape routes and what items nearby can be used as weapons, Zeisler said. A drill she often uses with her students to increase peripheral vision is to practice talking with someone while trying to identify what’s nearby without moving their head.
- Locate the nearest exit
Not all exits are created equal, however. “Just because a sign hangs over a door doesn’t mean it’s a viable exit,” Zeisler said. The door may lead to a stairwell, a confined location she considers dangerous for women. Exits that immediately lead to the ground level or somewhere outdoors are best. If no such path exists, then prepare mentally to “close in and initialize the threat on the spot before you can safely escape.”
- Improvised weapons
Nearly anything nearby can be turned into an impact weapon, such as a pen sitting in your pocket, or that snow globe on the nightstand. Always have something within arm’s reach that can be grabbed instinctively if confronted.
“It’s not just knowing what’s in your surroundings, but it’s also strategically placing things to make them work for you tactically in a worst-case scenario,” said Zeisler, who recommends holding keys (the longest or hardest, preferably) between your index and middle fingers.
Any weapon used can disrupt an attacker’s thought process and buy a victim time. “Even if we’re talking a few milliseconds, and in self defense that’s a lot of time,” she said.
- The power of the purse
The purse makes a “phenomenal” shield, said Zeisler, who carries hers diagonally across her body. Using a purse as a shield will help redirect an attacker’s attention.
“It’s also effective because it frees your legs up, if you have to kick someone or do anything to weaken him before you close in on the person,” she said.
- Stop and pass
If you think someone is following you, stop and let that person pass. Pretend you need to go in a different direction or take a phone call — just make sure you don’t expose your back to the person. Then look at the individual’s reaction, which may help confirm whether he or she is a potential threat. (TODAY)
Above all, trust your instincts and don’t be afraid to come across as rude! Scott Berkowitz, founder of Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), added that: “If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. If you feel like a situation doesn’t feel quite right, get out of there, or do what you need to do to find a friend. Lie about it. Say you have to go to the bathroom or go outside, whatever you need if you’re feeling awkward or feeling pressure.”