I've been reading the #YesAllWomen hashtag on Twitter in the wake of the shooting spree in California (Guardian article here). One tweet stuck out to me more than most, an account of when a group was asked "Men, what do you do to protect yourself from being raped or sexually assaulted?". There were no answers. Then the women were asked and everyone had an answer.
I'm a brown belt in Chinese Kenpo (2/3 of the way to black belt) with over five years of self-defense training from Tracy's Karate, an awesome place to train. This is some of what I do to protect myself from being raped or sexually assaulted:
When I walk from the car to my office and back, I carry my keys in my hand the whole way. A set of keys to the face would be a deterrent to an attacker.
Before I put my seat belt on, I lock the car doors. I lock them as soon as I sit down, and only then put the keys in the ignition.
When I feel unsafe, I walk the way I was trained when my karate studio was drilling us before a tournament, "Walk in there like you're going to rip someone's face off!" because walking like a victim feels unsafe.
I do a quick threat assessment when people walk past me and adjust my course if I see a potential problem. Even in the poshest of shopping malls.
The Schroedinger's Rapist article is still in my head five years after reading it.
Gavin de Becker's book The Gift Of Fear and Rory Miller's Facing Violence are both on my bookshelf, read and studied.
I don't listen to music when I walk, because I need to be able to hear what's around me in case it's a threat. Walking in daylight around Creve Coeur Lake last year felt unsafe when I was alone and I saw a lone male walking the other way.
I never hug the wall when I walk, because it makes you an easier target for someone waiting around a corner. I'm always several feet away from the wall because it gives you an extra fraction of a second to react and defend yourself.
I don't let people walk behind me because it creeps me out, and I'm more vulnerable to an attack from behind me. I have at least three self-defense techniques to use on attackers from behind, plus a reflex elbow strike or rear kick that would do serious damage to an attacker, and I still will not let people walk behind me.
My husband always knows where I am. We pay for AAA membership even though both cars are in great condition, because they respond fast to a lone woman calling for help if I ever do need it.
There's an alarm system on the house and I've practiced the scenario in my head of what to do if an attacker got inside, which room to go to, and best ways out.
I took the women's self defense seminar when my karate studio offered it, because I wanted a friend to come with me who was attacked by the St Louis Botanical Gardens so she had some defenses for next time she was threatened.
The phone number of St Louis County Police is in my contacts list, along with a couple of other municipalities police departments.
Once I'm in the car, I don't open the windows, and I double check the locks when I stop at traffic lights. I never open the windows for people begging or collecting for charity.
Strangers coming in to my house must show me ID, and I try to schedule them for times when my husband will come home before they leave.
There are a few tops and one dress I cannot wear outside the house, and I rarely wear shoes I can't run in, or kick off and run barefoot.
What do you do to protect yourself from being raped or sexually assaulted?