Self-Defense 101

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Broadcasted all over the news, there’s an overwhelming amount of reports concerning women caught in sexual assault situations, abusive relationships, and attacks. 

Unless you’ve taken courses, basic self-defense and protection skills aren’t taught, though many believe they are valuable and practical skills that everyone should have knowledge about.

Here are some practical skills you can make use of if ever caught in a situation and some self-defense tools to buy to take preventative measures.

Pepper Spray

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Pepper spray is a capsicum spray that causes burning, tears, and temporarily impaired vision when sprayed across the eye region. It can be purchased at most grocery stores, online, and at hardware stores. For optimal use, it is recommended that you place your fingers on the imprints of the bottle, using all four fingers, leaving your thumb out. If you need to utilize it, use your thumb to flick the trigger towards you and press down with your thumb. 

Using your thumb gives you more control and reduces the chances of an attacker knocking it out of your grip. Pepper spray can be used up to 10 ft away and has a shelf life of about 2-4 years, depending on the brand. 

Mace is not a separate spray, just a well-known brand of pepper spray. The two most well-known brands of pepper spray are Mace and Sabre.

Pepper Gel

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Pepper Gel is thicker and stickier than pepper spray and can travel 20% farther than pepper spray, according to Sabre, a leading brand of personal safety products. It sticks more to the skin, making it harder for an attacker to get off, and also doesn’t spread into the air, so you won’t face the possibility of having it bounce back at you. 

The design is virtually the same as pepper spray. Place your fingers on the finger grip and then use your thumb to pop the flip top and press down with your thumb to dispense the gel in the eye region, using a back-and-forth motion. Pepper Gel can be purchased at most grocery stores, online, and at hardware stores, and has about the same shelf life as pepper spray.


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Tasers are electroshock weapons that deliver electric shocks to the body which cause temporary paralysis. They are used by aiming at your target and shooting from a distance of about 15 feet away. Some states have restrictions as tasers can fall under the category of gun ownership, but in the state of Pennsylvania, people can buy tasers without a permit over the age of 18. These are on the pricier side and can be purchased online. 

Stun Guns

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Stun guns deliver electric shocks just as tasers do but are much cheaper. Some come with flashlights for visualization and before using your stun gun, it is recommended that you charge it. They require you to be within close range of the person you plan to use it on. Grip it the same way you would your pepper spray and simply press down on the button with your thumb to dispense the shock. After the shock is delivered, the muscles are incapacitated.

Personal Alarm

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Sabre defines a personal alarm as a “handheld personal security alarm”. These are alarms that when activated, release a sound of about 120 decibels or more, which travels about the distance of 2-4 football fields, alarming anyone within your radius to the sound so that someone can respond and help, or to get the attacker to flee. 

Some alarms are attached to a keychain, and if you simply release the pull pin from the device, the noise goes off. To stop the noise, place the pull pin back. Other alarms can be clipped to your clothes and come with a light and buttons which you press to sound the alarm and turn the alarm off.

The leading brand for personal alarms is also Sabre, which can be purchased in most grocery and hardware stores or online.


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Keys can easily be utilized for self-defense. Simply place them in between your fingers, form a fist, and if someone tries to attack, throw a punch. This will severely scrape and cut through the skin of an attacker, injuring them and giving you a chance to run.


Most women caught in these unfortunate situations are attacked by males. The most vulnerable spots to go for to injure and disable men are their groin, Adam’s apple, eyes, knees, shin, and nose. For areas in the lower region, deliver a strong kick, and for the face, always go for the punch. 

Remember to place your thumb on the outside of your fist to avoid breaking it! 

If you are caught in the grip of an attacker, you can also use your elbow or even bite your attacker.


Remember that if you are walking at night, try to walk in well-lit areas. You should also avoid wearing headphones so that you can hear what’s going on around you. Yell to get attention and get a potential attacker to run away to avoid the trouble. On-campus, you can utilize the blue lights, where police will arrive to help. If you witness an attack happening, call 911.



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