Our society is getting more and more frightening. Walking to your car alone presents a risk, and leaves many of us wondering, what should we do if we're confronted by an attacker?

Keeping yourself safe is key. Criminals are always on the lookout for a vulnerable mark, and unfortunately being female can paint a target on your back. But you can't just sit at home either. If you let the criminals dictate how you life your life, they've already won, so here's what you need to understand to better defend yourself.

Stay aware of your surroundings

The first rule is to always be on the lookout. When people hear self defence they usually imagine learning how to block a punch, or kick an attacker in the groin, but this is all reactionary. The first step in keeping yourself safe is to be aware of your surroundings, so you don't walk into a potentially dangerous situation.

Just because a parking lot appears empty, doesn't mean that it actually is. Scan and use your peripheral vision to identify any potential threats, and learn to trust your gut. If something just feels "off" don't walk into it.

Don't be vulnerable

This applies to all situations, but the one that really strikes home is in your car. Car-jackings are on the rise, but they're a simple fix. If you're driving, simply keep your windows up and lock the doors. Most of the time car jackings work by surprising you at an intersection, when the attacker comes up in your blind spot (from the rear at a 45 degree angle), and will either open your door and pull you out, or jump in the passenger seat and make you drive. Neither of these situations will end well, so keep your doors locked and windows up.

Learn to keep your distance

When you're confronted by an attacker the best way to stay safe is to keep as much distance as possible between yourself and your attacker. Doing so stops your attacker from being able to grab you, strike you, or anything else they may have in mind. It also gives you an opportunity to use the distance weapon you've got for self defence, whether it's a police-issue taser, a canister of pepper spray, or your trusty 9mm.

Take a self defence class

Fundamental to learning to defend yourself is taking a class that teaches you practical skills with which you can use to fight off an attacker.

Unfortunately, there's too many "self defence" classes that teach watered down methods and are more equivalent to "boxercise" than practical fighting techniques. Choose your class carefully. What you want to find is a training class that simulates actual situations with a padded instructor, so you can apply the techniques you've learnt in a real scenario.

I'd also recommend getting professional training for the self-defensive weapons you're planning to carry. And ensure you're ready to use them should you have to. There's nothing worse than having the means to defend yourself, but freezing up in the moment or lacking the proper training to use your weapon effectively.

Arm yourself with pepper spray

Of course a firearm is the ultimate equalizer, and in the hands of a trained user it's highly effective at keeping yourself safe. But it's not always practical to carry your gun, and in many establishments it's not legal either. Instead, you need a non-lethal option like our devil juice pepper spray. It works to quickly blind an attacker, giving you the chance to escape the altercation and run for your life.

Just remember to practice first. When you use pepper spray you've got to follow a side to side spray, directing the blast from the canister into the eyes of your attacker. Oh, and if you're walking anywhere dodgy, my advice would be to hold it in your hand, so you're ready to fight back instead of fumbling for it in your handbag.

Stand your ground and fight

If you want to survive an attack, you need to fight back. I want to make this point very clear. If you're being threatened, it's okay to throw the first punch. Forget what society has taught you. Your survival depends on you taking action, so take a breath and defend yourself physically.

Many women I've spoken too are so caught up in their own head, that they forget to fight back. Perhaps they're scared of angering their attacker even more, or worry that they don't have the right to take the first punch. Forget this. Studies have shown that the people who fight back have a much higher rate of survival, so suck it up and start attacking their vulnerable areas, using the element of surprise to your advantage.

Fight to escape

Your ultimate goal when fighting back is to escape. You just need to create an opportunity for you to slip from your attackers grasp, or incapacitate them so you're able to escape to safety.

Predators often use their size and strength to overpower a woman, terrifying them into submission, or forcing them to use up all of their energy in a futile attempt to escape. My advice is to not fight fire with fire, but to wait for the perfect moment. As soon as they're distracted, use all of your force to launch an explosive attack. Anything goes, so target areas like the eyes, throat and groin with as much power as you can muster to give yourself a chance to escape. If you don't you're in big trouble.

It's a sad truth that our streets are becoming more and more unsafe. I hate to say it but it's the world we live in, and if you don't want to become a victim yourself, you need to know basic self defence, how to not become a victim, and be willing and ready to fight back when your life depends on it.

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