June 26, 2011

Self Defense and Women

Women’s self-defense begins long before a fight gets physical. Your first and most important line of defense is a heightened sense of awareness, let us call it woman’s intuition. Scranton MMA teaches you the most common strategies used by sexual assailants so you can prevent attacks before they happen. However, no matter how diligently you practice awareness and avoidance techniques, someone might slip through your defenses and attack you. Regardless of your age or physical condition, you can and should defend yourself, and the self defense programs at Scranton MMA will give you the tools and the confidence to make it happen.

Our Gracie Jiu Jitsu self defense based program is unique in that it is effective for all women, and it is the only self-defense program in NEPA that effectively addresses what to do at all four phases of a sexual assault. Speaking and studying with law enforcement officials and through the study of interviews submitted by survivors, we’ve learned that nearly all sexual assault predators follow the same four-stage strategy: 1) select an unsuspecting target, 2) control the target, 3) fatigue the target, and 4) commit the sexual assault. Below is a detailed breakdown of each of the four phases of sexual assault, and the survival strategies that can be employed during each phase.

Phase 1: Select the Target

Sexual assaults rely heavily on the element of surprise. This requires a stealthy approach against their target. Accordingly, predators target potential victims who are distracted, inattentive, physically weak, and/or timid; and they select locations that enable them to strike quickly and out of view of would be rescuers. Phase 1 ends when the sexual predator has selected a target.

Phase 1 Survival Strategies

The most important Phase 1 defensive strategy is heightened awareness. Develop the habit of constantly being aware of your surroundings, making eye contact with the people around you, and maintaining an alert posture. Practices such as these will project confidence and readiness that will deter potential attackers from targeting you.

Phase 2: Control the Target

Once through your primary defenses a sexual predator will seek to subdue you. Phase 2 begins with the initial contact. The severity of the contact can range from abusive language to physical assault. Phase 2 ends once the predator gains full control and forces the target to the ground where they intend to carry out the assault.

Phase 2 Survival Strategies

Phase 2 survival encompasses all actions that prevent the sexual predator from gaining physical control over you. At Scranton MMA we teach you how to escape from the most common attacks – wrist grabs, hair grabs, chokes, bear hugs, etc. – as well as how to use verbal strategies to counter physical contact and avoid phase 3 all together.

Phase 3: Fatigue the Target

Phase 3 begins after the predator has subdued you. The predator will attempt to physically and psychologically control you by pinning you to ground and/or striking you. In Phase 3, the predator expects you to panic and fight wildly to escape. This behavior hastens exhaustion and it feeds the predator’s need to control and dominate you. He knows that a demoralized and exhausted victim will more easily succumb to sexual assault. Phase 3 ends when the predator believes that the target has mentally and physically surrendered.

Phase 3 Survival Strategies

In Phase 3, your primary objective is to escape and flee. This is where most other women’s self-defense programs mistakenly teach their students to flail about and strike at their captor. In Phase 2, we recommend these responses, as they can be highly effective when the predator is trying to subdue you. However, once the predator has pinned you to the ground in Phase 3, this type of behavior is extremely risky as it quickly depletes your energy and saps your will to fight. The keys to survival in this phase are to avoid panic, conserve energy, and escape using a leverage-based technique when the opportunity arises. Although there are dozens of women’s self-defense courses that provide sound strategies for Phase 1 and Phase 2 survival the programs at Scranton MMA stand alone in the ability to empower women for Phases 3 and 4.

Phase 4: Commit the Sexual Assault

Phase 4 begins when the predator attempts to rape the victim and ends with the completion of the sexual assault. During this final phase, the assailant will rely on the target’s exhaustion, demoralization, and fear to maintain control.

Phase 4 Survival Strategies

If unable to escape during Phase 3 you will need to create additional opportunities for escape. At Scranton MMA we teach you to use verbal and physical strategies to convince your attacker that you will cooperate while in reality setting up your escape.

Final Thoughts

Your ability to adjust your survival strategy to match each phase of the assault is vital. It is important to note that the appropriate techniques and your mindset change dramatically in each phase. If you select the wrong strategy, your actions may be ineffective or even counterproductive. Use your woman’s intuition to reduce your chances of being targeted, but perfect technique and mastery of the principles presented in our women’s self defense program will help to ensure that you have a realistic and reliable action plan if assaulted.