Self Defense

1self-defense-inversePersonal safety can be a controversial issue because people sometimes feel that personal safety tips or self-defense classes are a way to place the responsibility for preventing sexual assault or intimate partner violence on the person who is least responsible. While it is true that the only person responsible for the violence is the person who commits it, there are things that we can do to keep ourselves safe and take back the control that the rapist or violent partner is trying to take away. Often, the experience of taking steps to protect yourself can make you feel more powerful and in control and can also be part of the process of healing for those who have been assaulted previously. Although there are no guarantees that certain techniques or actions will prevent an assault, they can decrease the risk of one or help you to escape an assault in progress. It is also important to remember that if you are assaulted, this does not mean that you failed at protecting yourself or in some way are responsible for being attacked. The blame lies solely with the attacker, whether that person is a stranger, an acquaintance, a date, a partner, or a family member. Furthermore, if you are attacked and do not use the techniques outlined here or in a self-defense class, this does not mean that you deserved it or didn’t resist enough. A physical response to an attack may not be safe in some situations. Only you can be the best judge of how to respond to an attack, and no one has the right to question your actions or the decisions you made that allowed you to survive the assault. It is important to note that many people find themselves becoming more fearful and hyper-vigilant when they begin to focus on personal safety. Although the risks are real and there are steps you can take to increase your personal safety, these steps are intended to increase your sense of empowerment and safety, rather than a sense of victimization and fear. If you find yourself becoming very anxious and fearful about sexual assault, or compulsive about personal safety, it may help to talk to someone about your fears. This may be especially likely if you are, or someone close to you is, a survivor of an attempted or completed sexual assault.

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