April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and while we hope that you never have to use the info below, as women, we’re better safe than sorry. Should you find yourself in an instance where you need to fight for your life, knowing a few simple self-defense moves can make all the difference. Above all, the most important thing to keep in mind is to be as savage as possible, says Alberto Ortiz, founder of Work Train Fight in New York City. “No matter how prepared you are, in a violating scenario many of us freeze by instinct. Emotionally detach yourself from the person in front of you and do whatever you have to for survival, even if that means you have to claw your fingernails into someone’s eyeballs,” he says. Ahead, five other things you can do that may just save your life in a situation of sexual assault.
Don’t use your fists
Throwing a proper punch takes practice. So, while it might be your first instinct, it can easily lead to breaking your hand if you make direct contact with one of your attacker’s bones or miss and hit another hard object, says Ortiz. Use your fingers, palms, and teeth instead, and/or your elbows and knees, which are the strongest body weapons you have, he adds.
Target the most vulnerable spots
And that doesn’t mean only the crotch (although, definitely aim for that); the eyes, nose, and throat are also super sensitive areas. “It’s important to strike your attacker where it hurts most,” says Ortiz, who adds that aiming for the eyes or nose first can alarm and disarm the attacker, letting you follow up with a shot to the body.
Remember that anything can be a weapon
“Whether it’s throwing a cell phone at someone’s face, whipping your jacket at them, or even using a belt buckle to slap an attacker, everything around you can be a weapon for self-defense,” says Ortiz. Use your surroundings to your advantage, too, pushing your attacker down stairs or cornering them into a tight spot.
Smother them if they’re on top of you
Don’t try to push them off. “Hug them tight, or wrap your legs around them. The smothering technique renders an attacker unable to strike you with effective force,” explains Ortiz. “When an attacker tries get loose from your grip, they’ll tire themselves out, which in turn will give you an opportunity to push them away and attack or run.”
Wait before attacking
Stay with us here. Ortiz advises taking long breaths and letting an attacker come at you with all of their power. “After a couple of minutes, the majority of people will be completely gassed out, because they can’t control their adrenaline and anxiety. Stay calm, focus, and protect yourself passively for as long as you can. Wait for them to slow down a bit to launch into a full blown attack and you’ll have the upper hand.”