4 Ways to Defend During a Physical Attack

When journalists go out in the field to report on a story, they are vulnerable to verbal or physical attacks, whether during a one-on-one interview or during a street standup with a crew. What you should do if someone touches you without your consent?

Self-Defense Weak Points

In a Zoom workshop on April 9, the team from TrollBusters and Global Journalist Security (GJS) came together in order to teach self-defense to women journalists. Participants learned situational awareness tactics and how to look for exits and other tactics for identifying predators and other hostile actors. Trainers discussed how women should react to threats like sustained eye-contact or verbal abuse from attackers.

But what if the abuser touches us? How should we respond? Angela Meyer, empowerment trainer from GJS, demonstrated a few self-defense tactics that women journalists should practice to be prepared. The goal is to build muscle memory so that your response is trained and automatic.

  • If the attacker grabs your wrist…

Instead of panicking due to the sudden movement, stay calm. To do this: Take a deep breath, bend your knees and drop your weight. Once you get in this stable stance roll your wrist joint in the direction that is opposite to where the predator is facing. 

  • If the attacker grabs your waist from behind…

Engage your rational mind instead of getting flustered. Then you can use one of your feet to stomp hard on the attacker’s feet. Practicing this move a few times will help you do it properly when you need to use it in a stressful situation.

  • If the attacker grabs your neck in his elbow…

Keep breathing slowly or his arm might cause you to choke. Then use your hands to loosen his grip on your neck. Then use one of your shoulders and turn in a direction so that you are pressing your pointed shoulder into the attacker’s stomach or chest.

  • If he knocks you to the ground…

Avoid staying in a starfish position with your hands and legs spread out. Take deep breaths and push your mind to get back on your feet, then keep your legs apart and drop your weight so that you are in a stable stance. 

Remember never turn your back towards the predator. You are in the most vulnerable position that you could put yourself in. Instead face your predator and keep your hands between you and them.

With self-defense maneuvers it is important to know that doing them once or twice is not enough, practicing these positions and moves regularly will give you the confidence and skill you need to deal with assault. Learning martial arts, such as jiu-jitsu and Grav Maga can also be beneficial.

Where is your attacker most sensitive?

  • Top of his feet
  • His knees
  • His groin (regardless of the attacker’s gender)
  • Middle of his chest
  • Anywhere on his face

Published by michelleferrier

Executive Director, Media Innovation Collaboratory; Founder, Troll-Busters.com | Online Pest Control for Women Writers and Journalists;

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