My usual posts about safety are all about prevention. It is far better to avoid a dangerous situation than to struggle your way out of one. So, first, I refer you to the Solo Travel Safety category where you can read lots about safe travel practices.
But, the fact is, sometimes we can end up in dicey situations. My worst was when I was Caught in a Con Game in Paris. With this in mind, I've done a little research on self defense. Maybe some of these tips will stay with you and be available if ever needed.
- Be noisy and demanding: If someone is bothering you yet they seem relatively harmless, draw attention to the situation. I was groped while sleeping on a train in Europe. When I woke up, I yelled at the man and demanded another compartment.
- Get Away: A person threatening you in some way is probably pumped up on adrenaline or possibly other substances. The best thing to do is try to get away.
- De-escalation: If it's money that the attacker is after, give it to them. If they're bullying, don't challenge them, don't give them any reason to attack, agree rather than argue, stay calm, and look for a logical opportunity to leave.
- Personal alarm: At up to 120 decibels, personal alarms distract and disorient attackers while attracting attention they don't want. A whistle can even do the trick.
- Diversion: If someone demands your wallet or purse, throw it away from you. If that's what they really want, you'll have time to run.
- Play to Your Strengths: If you can't get away and it seems that you have to fight, what can I say but, yikes! What I have read is that you should forget the kick to the groin. They know that it's coming plus, it places you on one foot and off balance for too long. Instead,
– Strike first for the element of surprise.
– Pepper spray may be an option. I have no experience with it and can't imagine getting it out of my purse in time to do any good. It also can't be taken on a plane and requires a license in some US states.
– If you're close enough, use your elbow; it's the strongest part of your body.
– If you do kick, use the side of your foot and go for your attacker's knees to set them off balance.
I can't claim to have tested any of the above (except number 1) so I offer them with caution. Travel safe. Please think prevention first.