Women have to follow a whole different set of rules than men do when it comes to their safety. We are constantly warned never to walk outside alone at night and to travel in pairs. One of the most common items gifted to female students about to enter their college years is a bottle of pepper spray and what is known as a “rape whistle.” 

“According to a survey conducted by a nonprofit organization called Stop Street Harassment, 81 percent of women have experienced some form of sexual harassment throughout their lifetime.”


This includes verbal forms of sexual harassment, such as being catcalled, whistled at, or receiving unwanted comments regarding their physical appearances. It also includes physical harassment and online harassment. These whopping statistics may make it feel like none of us are safe, but with these five self-defense moves that every woman should know, we can learn to better protect ourselves against danger.

Attack Vulnerable Areas

If you find yourself being attacked, focus on the human body’s most vulnerable areas, which happen to be the eyes, nose, throat, and most obvious of all, the groin. When executing your self-defense moves, try to aim for at least one of these areas. Even better if you can manage to hit all of them. Avoid the chest because it tends to be one of the least sensitive areas of the body. 

You may also have heard advice telling you to kick your attacker’s knees in, but that requires a more specific and practiced move that the average woman isn’t too familiar with. It can be dangerous to attempt, especially if you have never carried out a move quite like that before. It is better to not risk it and stick to the areas mentioned above to have the most impact on the attacker.

Additionally, try to use as much power and aggression as you can muster up. Don’t forget to use your voice as well. Loudness intimidates attackers. It shows them that you are not an easy target. It may not be effective in warding off all attackers, but it can’t hurt to try. By drawing attention to yourself, you can let any potential passersby know that you are in need of help. If you ever find yourself in that situation, do your best to try every tactic in the book to escape.

“Yelling can give you strength as it is a great way to keep oxygen coming into your lungs, and talking yourself through your strikes, or noticing the smell in the air are all ways to remind yourself to breathe.”


If you’re interested in more empowered women content, check out The Complete Guide on How to Stay Safe Living in a Van.

Knee Kick To The Groin

If the person is closing in on you from the front, they may be too near for you to throw any punches. If that is the case, kicking with your knee to the groin can be a very effective way to weaken your attacker. Keep in mind that you do not want to use your thigh, but instead, the bony tip of your knee, as this can inflict more pain. Before you execute the knee kick, try to grab the attacker between their neck and shoulders and get a good grip on as much skin, clothing, or muscle as possible. This way, you can give yourself more leverage and stability to make your knee kick harder.

Kelly Campbell, a third-degree black belt and director of instructor development for Krav Maga Worldwide says to “use this if someone is in front of you, inside your personal space, and powerfully drive your knee straight up to hit the groin of your attacker.” To perform the move, stabilize yourself as best you can. Then, lift your dominant leg off of the ground and begin to drive your knee upward. 

If your attacker is male, he is most likely expecting an attack to the groin, so he’ll be sure to protect that area first and foremost. Although the knee kick to the groin is the first self-defense move on this list, you should save this move as a last resort or for when you notice that the attacker is leaving that area unguarded. Even a split second left unprotected can be enough time for you to cause damage.

Escaping A Bear Hug 

A bear hug is one of the most common attack moves that men execute when assaulting a woman. This move involves the attacker grabbing his victim, usually from behind, around the shoulders. Instinct may tell you to try to remove his arms from around your body, but this actually is not very effective. What you should do instead is to drop as low as you can to the ground and try to wriggle and squirm your way out of the attacker’s hold. Be difficult to control. Think about how a pet desperately tries to writhe its body from your grasp when you attempt to give them a bath, feed them their medication, or put them in a kennel. Internalize the actions of a sneaky, squirmy cat.

Dropping to the ground works to lower your center of gravity. By lowering your center of gravity, you are stabilizing your balance. This makes it harder for the attacker to lift you up and provides a new angle from which you can defend yourself. The attacker will be forced to bend down to lift you, and this is where you have the opportunity to strike at his vulnerable places.

To perform, you will want to bend forward from the waist. Shifting your weight forward gives you a better angle to use your elbows to strike at the attacker’s face. It also gives you more space to execute different moves and possibly even to escape.

Heel Palm Strike

This self-defense technique is considered one of the safest moves for inexperienced fighters. You’ll want to use this move when you’re in front of your attacker, causing damage to the nose or throat. A heel palm strike to the face can open up the opportunity for you to gouge or scratch at the attacker’s eyes. The form your hand should take when performing this move is to have your fingers pointed up and flexed back. 

To perform, first, flex the wrist on your dominant hand to avoid breaking your wrist. Aim for the nose, punching upwards from the nostrils. You could also aim for underneath the chin, jabbing upwards at the throat. Make sure to pull your arm back quickly when you strike because this will help thrust the attacker’s head up and back, causing him to stagger backward. It also makes the attacker lose his chance at grabbing your arm. Remember to throw the whole weight of your body into the move to force him to loosen his hold on you.

Elbow Strike

When you’re in close range with your attacker it can be difficult to throw a strong punch or kick. In this case, use your elbows. Your elbows are like the body’s built-in bony weapon. Amateurs can utilize this technique without worrying about any broken bones from it because it can still be effective even when not performed entirely correctly. Remember to keep your other hand up to block any potential attacks. If you’re close enough to carry out an elbow strike, then the other person is too. 

To perform an elbow strike, ensure that your legs and core are stable and firmly rooted to the ground. Next, bend your arm at the elbow and shift your weight forward. Aim your elbow into your attacker’s neck, chin, or face.

Use Everyday Objects

Everyday objects can be used as a form of weaponry if you’re feeling unsafe while walking alone during the night. If you’re outdoors, tossing sand or dirt into your attacker’s eyes can temporarily impair his vision, putting you into a more favorable position. A key or pen can also work to your advantage in performing a move called the hammer strike. With this technique, have your keys or pen stick out from one side of your fist. If your keys are attached to a lanyard, you can use them to swing at your attacker, Nunchuk-style. 

To perform a hammer strike, hold your keys or pen in a tight fist like you’re holding a hammer. The object should be extending from the side of your hand, and from there, you can thrust it downwards onto your attacker.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where we women must take every precaution to stay out of harm’s way. When it comes to these self-defense moves, practice makes perfect, and repetition is key.

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