No one likes to think about getting attacked, let alone getting mugged, sexually assaulted or just plain punched in the face. But, if you’re walking the streets of Chicago solo, you need to be prepared to protect yourself. A few self-defense tactics can help keep you out of harm’s way.
You don’t need a black belt to fend off an attacker, even if they’re twice your size. Read on for kickass instructions on how to, er, kick ass.
No need to raise your fists for these first few steps. The most important thing to do before you leave the house or leave the store is choose to be aware of what’s going on around you.
Hide your valuables
Keep your iPod, phone, Kindle and any other electronics out of sight. If a potential attacker sees you’ve got these goods, that gives them incentive to mug you. Besides, if you’re playing with electronics as you walk you aren’t staying alert to your surroundings.
…but keep your pockets full of weapons
A ballpoint pen, rattail comb or a key can be used to stab an attacker. Some people hold their keys between their fingers as they walk home — bad idea. If you stab someone with your keys between your fingers, the key pointing out will go through your fingers and slice your tendons. Instead create a fist around a group of keys with one protruding out, so you can use more of a hacking motion and avoid hurting yourself.
You could also use a cellphone to strike an attacker; just keep it secure so it doesn’t fly out of your hand. Hold the phone and hit the bridge of the nose. Got a hairbrush? Swipe an attacker’s eyes with the bristles.
Change your route
Take in your surroundings and listen to your gut — this can provide you with a safer route home. Walk in areas that are well lit and well populated. Varying your route can keep someone from knowing where you’re going.
Be a bad victim
If someone is approaching you or giving you bad vibes, make sure they know you’re paying attention. Stand up straight with your gaze up. Many aggressors will back down if you maintain eye contact with them and aren’t intimidated. Walk with confidence.
Set a verbal boundary
When an attacker approaches, put your hands up and tell them ‘Stop. Leave me alone. I don’t want any problems.’ Use commands rather than questions to help prevent potential conflict.
People may not come to your aid if you yell “help!” because they could think you’re joking or may not want to get involved. Yelling “fire!”, however, concerns the people around you and they will try to figure out what’s going on. Not to mention yelling something as loud as you can helps you recognize danger and will fuel your get-away instincts.
…and if that fails, it’s time to get scrappy
An attacker can come out of nowhere, giving you little time to think and react. You can get attacked in different ways and from different directions. You need to go for their weakest points with the strongest parts of your body to deliver the most damage, so you can escape. I’ve summarized some tactics from three self-defense groups: Fight Like a Girl and Win, Girls Fight Back and Just Yell Fire. Don’t let the titles fool you. These aren’t just for the ladies. Man or woman, strong or weak, young or old — anyone can benefit from knowing how to open a can of whoopass.
Your attacker comes at you from the front
Feel the heel of your palm — that’s hard bone. Curl your fingers, pull down quickly and strike your attacker’s nose with the heel of your hand.
Knee to the groin
After the palm strike, your attacker may lean back, exposing the groin. Grab their shoulder and pull them toward you and then strike upwards with your thigh. Pulling your attacker towards you actually gives this move more power because you have two forces going in opposite directions.
Too far away? Try the scoop kick
Kick up into the groin and pull back with your toes.
Knee to the face
Your attacker could buckle over from the knee to the groin, giving you an opportunity to knee them in the face. Hold onto their head for stability and accuracy.
Elbow to the back
Another option if your attacker is buckled over is to strike the back with the point of your elbow.
Go for the eyes and ears
The eyes and ears are vulnerable. Stabbing one eye with the index, middle and ring finger slightly bent will temporary blind your attacker. Pulling the ear will cause incredible pain.
They attack you from the front and grab your arms
Flip your elbows out to give yourself more space and strike with a knee to the groin.
They attack you from behind and put their hands on your neck
Stick ‘em up
Swing your arms straight up towards the sky. It’s physically impossible for them to keep their grip on your neck.
Comb your hair
You can also bend your arm and move it up and back, as though you’re combing your hair, and move away from the attacker. This move releases their grip on your neck.
They attack you from behind and cover your arms
Slap the groin
If you’ve still got movement in your lower body, you can move your hips to one side, exposing their groin. Swing your arm backward slapping the groin (and possibly pulling forward).
Stomp the foot
Stomping on an attacker’s foot could cause them to let go if they have you in a bear hold.
If an attacker covers your arms, your lower half is still free. Swing your pelvis forward and strike them in the groin with your booty. This will knock the wind out of your attacker, man or woman. They may release you, allowing you to fend them off from the front.
Your attacker pushed you to the ground
Kick your attacker in the groin and then the face. They grabbed your foot? Use the other one. They grabbed both feet? Throw a tantrum like a two-year-old to get out of this hold or roll to one side like a steamroller.
If you want to learn more, you can watch the Human Weapon series on the History Channel or Just Yell Fire. Just Yell Fire is a self-defense film created for 11- to 19-year-old girls. The film’s creator, Dallas Jessup, wanted to teach girls how to escape bad situations and help prevent sexual assault and child abduction. Peruse these resources and (maybe) practice some moves with your friends and family. And with that, I’ll leave you to your badass self.
Are you ready to enjoy your holidays? Before leaving your home make sure you follow some basic safety tips so you can relax 100% while you are away.
In this week’s Loopster, Kate Springer provides an overview of the rising concern over recent events that have led to Boystown residents speaking out.
But what’s really happening here? We looked at a number of variables of reported crime (burglary, battery, assault and theft) between 2009 and 2011 using the data available on EveryBlock.
Because crime tends to go up when the weather warms, we looked at summer numbers only, from June 21 to July 11, and we found crime is trending upwards in three of the four categories.
Battery is unlawful physical contact. It becomes assault if the physical contact is defined as violent. Theft is taking another person’s property and burglary is breaking and entering a person’s home for the purpose of committing a criminal act.
Burglary is up:
Battery is up:
Assault is up:
Theft is down:
The Chicago Transit Authority’s trains and buses are a great way to reach your summer destinations. But like all big cities, Chicago’s has its share of violence and theft and even the most seasoned commuters can fall prey to pick-pocketing and attacks while using the CTA.
The next time you board your CTA bus or the “L” keep these essential safety tips in mind:
Don’t flaunt it
Break the habit of patting your pockets or purses to make sure if your wallet is there. According to the CTA, this actually lets thieves know the exact location of your valuables.
It sounds like a given, but it needs to be said. Always keep your wallet in a safe location, like the inside of a jacket or the inside pocket of a purse.
Guys, always keep your wallet in a front pocket instead of a back pocket. Ladies, if your purse straps are long enough, wear it diagonally across your body so someone can’t snatch it. If not, keep your hands on your purse at all times. Don’t let it sit idly on your lap.
The CTA is no place to show off your latest tech device or Valentine’s Day present. Try to conceal your expensive belongings. This Chicago Tribune article on CTA smartphone thefts might put things into perspective.
Have a separate holder for your transit card (somewhere other than your wallet). This eliminates the need to take out your wallet whenever you need to use your card.
These chapters may help you get inside the mind of a pick-pocketer.
You snooze, you lose
Don’t sleep! Especially on its slow days, the “L” might seem like a good place to catch some extra z’s, but CTA advises you to be awake and alert.
Don’t get so engrossed in your phone, iPod or book that you tune out the rest of the bus or train. Always pay attention to what’s going on around you.
CTA warns commuters to be wary of noisy passengers arguing or causing a commotion. This could be staged to distract you.
Do your part
According to the CTA website, commuters can help keep buses and trains safe by watching for:
- Someone hiding things on CTA property
- Unattended packages
- People other than authorized CTA employees on the rail tracks
- Someone wearing unusual clothing for the time of year (i.e. a winter parka in the summer)
If you notice anything out of the ordinary, such as smoke, an odd smell, or suspicious activities you should immediately tell the bus driver, rail operator or call 911.
The CTA says, “If it’s unwanted, it’s harassment.” If you feel threatened in any way you should move toward light areas and people, or move to another part of the bus or to another rail car. Tell the rail or bus operator that you are being harassed immediately.
CTA recently announced they will double the number of surveillance cameras at CTA rail stations to about 3,000. There will also be an increased police presence over the next few months to keep violence and theft at bay.
Be sure to bookmark the official CTA website to stay up to date on official safety information (and for all things CTA). For additional coverage of the CTA’s new security plans visit the CTA Tattler blog.
Last Saturday, a 24-year-old was stabbed around 3 a.m. in Lakeview. Two suspects are in custody and the victim is in good condition, as reported by the Chicago Tribune, but the fourth stabbing in a month only adds to the community’s growing unrest.
Just over two weeks ago, more than 700 concerned Lakeview residents packed a violence forum to express growing concern about violence in the community. Alderman Tom Tunney said that the department has stepped up night patrol officers in response to the recent violent crimes, according to the Chicago Tribune.
A timeline by WBEZ shows that Boystown has been the location of dozens of assaults, robberies, muggings and batteries since April. But the attack captured on video by Boystown resident Rob Sall on July 3 finally brought the debate over class and race to a boil.
The community has also turned to social media to voice concerns on pages such as “Take Back Boystown.” The Facebook page, which has at least 3,747 “likes,” says it aims to bring attention to the recent string of violent crimes and act as a venue for suggestions.
Though some have scapegoated the Center on Halsted Youth Program that offers a safe haven for people ages 13-24 who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or questioning their sexuality, police say they’ve found no correlation, as reported by WBEZ.
Read what others are saying about the recent events in Lakeview:
Summer is a great time for driving in Chicago, but it’s also a bad time of year for accidents and theft. Keeping a few simple guidelines in mind can go a long way toward keeping you, fellow drivers and your car a lot safer.
Here are five easy-to-follow automobile tips. Switch the slideshow to full screen to view all of the details: