Since 2001, Sexual Assault Awareness Month has been observed in April. Dedicated to raising awareness about sexual violence and spreading knowledge about prevention, the month is a good time for women and men alike to learn the facts about sexual assault.
According to recent statistics, 1 in 6 adult American women has experienced an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime; for men, the rate is 1 in 33. And as you may know, most sexual assaults are not committed by unknown individuals — 73% were perpetrated by non-strangers — which is why prevention efforts must also focus on sexual assault by known assailants.
To observe Sexual Assault Awareness Month and help empower women against attempted sexual assault, we’re sharing some tips for arming yourself against sexual assault.
Self-Defense Tips for Women
Sometimes, we stay in situations where we may feel uncomfortable for fear of being seen as rude. When it comes to your personal safety, though, you shouldn’t care what people think. Trust your intuition and don’t be afraid to say “No” when a suspicious neighbor offers to carry your groceries or the guy you’ve been casually dating asks to come in your apartment before you’re ready. If a male friend is making suggestive comments or unwanted advances, firmly let him know that this isn’t appropriate. Reject drinks at the bar if you don’t feel comfortable. If your significant other is pushing you to be intimate but you don’t want to, be very clear and direct that you are not in the mood. Don’t worry about offending the other party — they need to know that their behavior is not okay with you.
Define Your Sexual Limits
Since many sexual assaults are perpetuated by significant others, setting clear limits is important. Let your sexual partner know your limits, and act quickly if they cross a line. Be firm, and if you feel a partner is pressuring you, be clear that you won’t back down. Direct statements like “Don’t touch me” and “Stop now or I’m leaving” make it clear that you are serious when your partner has broken a boundary. If the situation escalates and your partner threatens physical violence, you will need to resort to physical retaliation that you can learn in self-defense class.
Note Your Surroundings
Although most sexual assaults aren’t committed by strangers, it’s still a good idea to be vigilant against potential sexual or physical violence from unknown people. If you’re alone or walking in an unfamiliar area, you might be tempted to pull out your phone to keep you company — but anything that distracts you from your surroundings might make you vulnerable to an attack.
Instead, if you’re outside on your own, walk purposefully and pay attention. If you think you’re being followed, cross the street, enter a store, or try to get to a more populated area. Don’t avoid the gaze of anyone who’s looking at you — look them in the face so that you could identify them later if needed.
Take a Self-Defense Class
Research by the US Department of Justice confirms that using physical and verbal resistance, including yelling, hitting, biting, martial arts, and self-defense techniques, proves effective in preventing assaults against women and doesn’t increase the victim’s risk of injury. Furthermore, fighting back against a perpetrator provides mental health benefits to women who are sexually assaulted. Women who don’t fight back are more likely to be depressed and blame themselves after the attack.
Taking a self-defense class will help prepare you to fight back should you be attacked. A good self-defense seminar will teach you how to read a situation to know if attack is necessary, how to get out of basic holds, where and how to target your attacker, and strategies to catch your attacker off guard and get away. Plus, it should empower you and give you sufficient practice in executing self-defense moves so that you feel confident you could protect yourself in case of an attack. When you feel confident and practiced in your abilities, you’re more likely to take the right action when faced with an emergency.
Gear Up Against Sexual Assault at TITLE Boxing Club
The boxing and kickboxing Power Hours at TITLE Boxing Club can help you prepare for a self-defense course. You’ll learn some defensive techniques and MMA moves that could be used in a fight, plus your trainer will help you understand the reasoning behind each move. You can gain physical strength and confidence at your Power Hour, which will reinforce your self-defense class. And many TITLE Boxing Clubs located nationwide have even partnered with community organizations to provide self-defense courses! To see if your TITLE Boxing Club is among them, contact your nearest location today.