– It’s getting harder and harder to turn on our radios and tv’s or open up our social media apps, as we are constantly being exposed to more and more reports of violence leading to terribly sad outcomes. You might be thinking, “Am I next?” as you walk across a parking lot to your car, or perhaps while closing up your salon at the end of a busy day. Nobody really likes to talk about the harsh realities of this modern age, but perhaps it’s time to take charge and develop healthy habits that could possibly save your life one day. 

ATTENTION – be aware!

Sometimes we need to take a moment and observe our environment and the people in it. Often we forget to trust our own gut instincts about people and the importance of body language in public spaces. If you feel like you’re being watched, it doesn’t hurt to take a moment to look around and see if anyone is behaving in a sketchy manner. If you are feeling unsafe, be sure to take note of easy escape routes or detours to avoid having to interact with such people. If this isn’t enough and there is no security guards in the vicinity, it is advised that you make contact with a friend or family member to let them know where you are, and that if they don’t hear from you again soon they should please contact the police. 

ATTITUDE – think tough, act tough!

Attackers don’t want to get caught up in a situation where they’re going to have to put up a fight to get what they want – they like easy targets. Maintaining a confident attitude, even if you’re nervous, can be the thing that saves you. Something as simple as remembering the lyrics to a song that makes you feel pumped up and confident can help change your body language from “nervous” to “I am a tougher target than you think”.  

PROTECT – use objects you have on hand!

Don’t be hesitant to use what you have in your immediate environment to defend yourself in an attack situation, for most of us it’s our car keys. Keys can be a very effective weapon if used correctly; you simply pinch the base of the key between your thumb and forefinger and hold tight. It makes it easier to open your car with confidence (avoids the fumbling around of keys while trying to unlock the car door), and the grip allows you to injure your attacker enough for you to escape and seek safety. 

We all know a woman’s handbag is like a Russian circus tent (everything but the kitchen sink fits in there), but don’t forget that in a tough situation your handbag itself can be used as a shield or a distraction to give you an opportunity to escape. 

S.O.S. – smartphone apps for your safety

Project Namola – Namola is one of SA’s leading safety apps that help you receive emergency assistance when you need it most. The app has a panic button which alerts the Namola control room operated who will then make contact with your next of Kin.

Life 360 – This app supports location sharing with your loved ones to ensure your safety at all times. The app is offers ‘Crash Detection’, a feature which will alert your emergency contacts if you are involved in an accident it will then also send an ambulance.

MySOS SA – This app supports 2-way voice communication and GPS tracking used by more than 100 000 South Africans. Notify your emergency contact with a press of a button, you location will be sent to your pre-selected contacts.

We don’t want to have to live our lives in fear, making sure we have pepper spray on hand and S.O.S. apps on our phones just in case we encounter a situation that affects our very survival. The reality of the situation is that the current society we live in requires us to be more proactive in our own safety.  

If you truly want to have the mental and physical strength to defend yourself against any unwanted harmful situation then your best solution is dedicating your time to weekly self-defense classes. Take the time to find gyms or programmes that care about your actual ability to fight, rather than taking your money to bolster your perception of your ability to fight.  A single day seminar is of very limited use to the average person. Man or woman, if you want to be proficient in self-defense then you have to put in the work. Just think of it as a way to get fit along the way to self confidence!