What you need to know:
- A spot check on Jumia, an eCommerce platform, shows that pepper sprays retail at between Sh. 400 and Sh. 1,000. Self-defense torches with electric shock sell at around Sh. 1,000 per piece.
- In the first minutes before the actual attack, you may try to speak calmly to your attacker to reduce their rage.
- Boost your self-defense techniques by enrolling in courses that prepare women to handle potential attackers.
When faced with a rapist, many women are too terrified and shocked to react. There is also the possibility that an attempted rape could turn into murder if you resist. But there is also the possibility that a rape ordeal could end up with murder even if you freeze and let the rapist have their way. This makes it critical to have a defense strategy that can help you fight an attacker.
Why some women are unable to fight back
Scott Lindquist, the author of The Date Rape Prevention Book, recommends that the fightback should be in the first minutes of the attack. "Make the most of the first precious minutes. At this time, the rapist is not in total control, and your chances of fighting him off, and alerting the public are highest," he says. But this strategy is often easier said than done. During a rape attack, most victims are too frozen to react or resist. According to Dr. James Hopper, a researcher and instructor in psychology at the Harvard Medical School, most rape victims freeze in the face of an attack because of the brain’s reflexive responses. “The brain will detect danger and logically send signals that you should either fight or flight. But the reflexive responses don’t always include fight or flight,” he says. For example, your ultimate brain response might be dissociation. “This will involve spacing out, feeling unreal, and disconnecting from the terrible emotions and sensations of going through such an intimate violation,” says Dr. Hopper. Fighting back might also get you killed. In the majority of rape attacks, the attacker is usually someone who is well known to the victim. This might cause them to kill you in order to stop you from reporting them.
The verbal fight back
In the first minutes before the actual attack, you may try to speak calmly to your attacker to reduce their rage. You can do this through pleading, reasoning, and crying. However, you must be careful because making the attacker feel guilty about their action or threatening to report and sue them might cause them to rape and kill you.
The stall strategy could also work. It involves doing things to stall your attacker from carrying out their intention of rape. You can stall him by engaging him in a conversation, pretending to be sick, and generally pretending to be friendly instead of hostile. The aim of this strategy is to try to make the attacker let their guard down so that you stage an escape. “If he lets his guard down, your top priority must be a quick escape. Don’t start a fight. It could prove costly. For example, if you attempt to hit him at the groin, chances of missing are high because this is an area men subconsciously and instinctively protect,” says
Personal safety devices
Always have personal protection devices within reach. These include small devices such as pepper spray and personal security alarm bells. Using the combination of both devices will improve your chances of escaping or fending off the attacker. According to Crime Safety and Security, a platform for women and children’s safety, the best all-round pepper spray is Stream which is also known as Broken Stream. This pepper is highly effective against multiple attackers and is not affected by breezes and winds as much as mist and fog sprays are.
A spot check on Jumia, an eCommerce platform, shows that pepper sprays retail at between Sh. 400 and Sh. 1,000. Self-defense torches with electric shock sell at around Sh. 1,000 per piece.
If you find yourself in front of a man who is threatening to attack you, the Crime Safety and Security platform recommends that you start by yelling and shouting, ‘Stop! Stay away from me!’. Follow this by activating your portable alarm bell at full volume. Do not turn off the alarm until you’re safe. If these two actions don’t push him away, use your spray. Target his eyes but keep a distance to avoid getting the spray on yourself. In addition, an electric shock will work if the attacker tries to latch themselves on you.
Finger whips to the eyes
This is spiking the eyes as if you are flicking water off your fingertips. According to Crime Safety and Security, this is the best surprise attack to an attacker and the most effective in causing distraction. “It is the fastest of all strikes against a rapist as it can be done repeatedly at high speeds. It can also cause great pain, incapacity, and distraction,” the platform states.
Boost your self-defense techniques by enrolling in courses that prepare women to handle potential attackers. Some of the places where you can get anti-rape self-defense courses tailor-made for women include the Sacura martial arts academy, Krav Maga Self-defense, and the IMpower Self-defense program. The impact of self-defense extends beyond fending off attacks to providing women with general positive wellness and attitude. A study from the University of Oregon on the impact of self-defense training found out that women who participated in a self-defense class felt they had better safety strategies in place, were more equipped to deal with strangers, and people they know, in the context of potential assault or abuse, had more positive feelings about their bodies, and had increased self-confidence.