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On Guard: The Go-to Guide to Self Defense

It’s a chilly Wednesday evening, and you just finished studying for your finals in Bird. You’re walking down Euclid, when you suddenly feel uneasy.  There’s someone across the street, loitering.  Something is not quite right.  Have you considered what you would do if a stranger were to approach you?

The sad thing is, this is a harsh reality for people when they find themselves having to walk home in the dark after finishing homework in Newhouse, studying in Bird, or even just walking home from a fraternity party. We’ve been taught to be on the lookout, always alert, and always wondering if that weird looking guy across the road is going to try and attack us.

Because this is a reality nowadays, it’s important to keep yourself aware and well-protected in case you find yourself in a situation like those mentioned above. With these helpful tips, you can be more aware, increase your safety, and be ready in case someone does try to approach you.


Use the Buddy System

The best step to keeping yourself safe is to avoid compromising situations in the first place.  As DPS recommends, stay with at least one other person and stick to well-lit areas.  Unfortunately, this is not always possible, in which case it’s crucial to know how to respond if you find yourself alone. If you get that uneasy feeling in your gut, listen to your instincts, and call a friend or even DPS to escort you back home.


Confidence is Key

Always walk with a purpose. Always, especially at night, limit distractions such as texting while you’re en route to your destination.  Consider turning down the music you’re listening to so you can be extra vigilant.  If you live off-campus or find yourself frequenting places late at night and unaccompanied, look into purchasing mace or pepper spray (Amazon!).  In New York, it’s legal to purchase mace from a pharmacy or licensed firearms dealer. All you need to do is show ID and sign a form stating you’ve never committed a felony.


Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Be aware of where you are and who is around you.  If you see someone suspicious, don’t be afraid to stare them down. Switch sidewalks if you see someone ahead who makes you uncomfortable.  If someone gets too close for your liking, get loud. You may risk appearing as a crazy person, but it will prove that you aren’t afraid to cause a scene and they’ll most likely back off.


Always Be Ready To Protect Yourself!

As a last resort, attack. Attack fully-committed, in order to render the perpetrator slow to react and give you a chance to get away.  The go-to areas to aim for are the eyes, nose, ears, neck, groin, and knees. If you have keys, hold them in your fist with the key pointing outwards in case you must strike a perpetrator with them. The assailant is likely larger than you, so your best bet would be to use your open palm and hit their chin or nose in an upwards direction.  To hit their neck, use the side of your hand as if it were a blade. Remember that joints cannot bend in certain directions (i.e. fingers, wrists, arms).  Use this to your advantage as you twist the attacker’s joints in unnatural positions to cause them to release their grip on you.


We aren’t trying to scare you with this article, but we ARE trying to make you aware of the harsh realities that many people, especially girls, face. Next time you’re strolling through campus at night, whether you’re with a group or all alone, notify someone of your destination so they can make sure you get there safely.  Apps like Live Safe are super easy to use and you can always phone a friend on your way home from late nights at the library.  In the unlikely event that you do get caught in an unsafe situation, always to go with your instincts.


By: Helena Starrs