Top 10 Safety Tips For Women

Written by Darren and Beth Laur

womansafetyHave you ever felt frightened or intimidated when out walking alone? Have you ever wondered what you should do if approached by an attacker? Have you ever worried about becoming yet another home invasion statistic?

The sad reality is that we live in an increasingly violent society in which the fear of crime is ever-present. Personal safety has become an issue of importance for everyone, but especially for women. Concerned about this state of affairs, Sgt. Darren Laur and his wife Beth Laur began teaching self-defence classes and safety seminars in 1993, and have since reached thousands of women. The demand they saw for reliable safety information, coupled with the need to debunk widespread myths regarding self-defence measures, convinced the two experts to write a book.

The following points are ten things that every woman should know about personal safety, and are covered in the Laurs’ newly published book, Total Awareness: A Woman’s Safety Book:

1. Awareness: Your first line of defence. Most people think of kicks to the groin and blocking punches when they hear the term “self-defence.” However, true self-defence begins long before any actual physical contact. The first, and probably most important, component in self-defence is awareness: awareness of yourself, your surroundings, and your potential attacker’s likely strategies.

The criminal’s primary strategy is to use the advantage of surprise. Studies have shown that criminals are adept at choosing targets who appear to be unaware of what is going on around them. By being aware of your surroundings and by projecting a “force presence,” many altercations which are commonplace on the street can be avoided.

2. Use your sixth sense. “Sixth sense.” “Gut instinct.” Whatever you call it, your intuition is a powerful subconscious insight into situations and people. All of us, especially women, have this gift, but very few of us pay attention to it. Learn to trust this power and use it to your full advantage. Avoid a person or a situation which does not “feel” safe–you’re probably right.

3. Self-defense training. It is important to evaluate the goals and practical usefulness of a women’s self-defense program before signing up. Here are two tips:

a) Avoid martial arts studios unless you specifically wish to train in the traditional martial arts techniques and are prepared for a long-term commitment. Many women’s self-defense programs teach watered-down martial arts techniques that are complex and unrealistic under the stress of an actual attack;

b) The self-defense program should include simulated assaults, with a fully padded instructor in realistic rape and attack scenarios, to allow you to practice what you’ve learned.

4. Escape: Always your best option. What if the unthinkable happens? You are suddenly confronted by a predator who demands that you go with him–be it in a car, or into an alley, or a building. It would seem prudent to obey, but you must never leave the primary crime scene. You are far more likely to be killed or seriously injured if you go with the predator than if you run away (even if he promises not to hurt you). Run away, yell for help, throw a rock through a store or car window–do whatever you can to attract attention. And if the criminal is after your purse or other material items, throw them one way while you run the other.

5. Your right to fight. Unfortunately, no matter how diligently we practice awareness and avoidance techniques, we may find ourselves in a physical confrontation. Whether or not you have self-defence training, and no matter what your age or physical condition, it is important to understand that you CAN and SHOULD defend yourself physically. You have both the moral and legal right to do so, even if the attacker is only threatening you and hasn’t struck first. Many women worry that they will anger the attacker and get hurt worse if they defend themselves, but statistics clearly show that your odds of survival are far greater if you do fight back. Aim for the eyes first and the groin second. Remember, though, to use the element of surprise to your advantage–strike quickly, and mean business. You may only get one chance.

6. Pepper spray: Pros and cons. Pepper spray, like other self-defence aids, can be a useful tool. However, it is important to understand that there can be significant drawbacks to its use. For example, did you know that it doesn’t work on everyone? Surprisingly, 15-20% of people will not be incapacitated even by a full-face spray. Also, if you’re carrying it in your purse, you will only waste time and alert the attacker to your intentions while you fumble for it. Never depend on any self-defence tool or weapon to stop an attacker. Trust your body and your wits, which you can always depend on in the event of an attack.

7. Home invasions: A crime on the rise. The primary way to prevent a home invasion is simply to never, ever open your door unless you either are certain you know who’s on the other side or can verify that they have a legitimate reason for being there (dressing up as a repair person or even police officer is one trick criminals use). In the event that an intruder breaks in while you’re home, you should have a safe room in your house to which you can retreat. Such a room should be equipped with a strong door, deadbolt lock, phone (preferably cell phone), and a can of pepper spray or fire extinguisher.

8. Avoiding a car-jacking. Lock all doors and keep windows up when driving. Most car-jackings take place when vehicles are stopped at intersections. The criminals approach at a 45-degree angle (in the blind spot), and either pull you out of the driver’s seat or jump in the passenger’s seat.

9. A travel tip. Violent crimes against women happen in the best and worst hotels around the world. Predators may play the part of a hotel employee, push their way through an open or unlocked door, or obtain a pass key to the room. As with home safety, never open your door unless you are certain the person on the other side is legitimate, and always carry a door wedge with you when you travel. A wedge is often stronger than the door it secures.

10. Safety in cyberspace. Although the Internet is educational and entertaining, it can also be full of danger if one isn’t careful. When communicating on-line, use a nickname and always keep personal information such as home address and phone number confidential. Instruct family members to do the same. Keep current on security issues, frauds, viruses, etc. by periodically referring to “The Police Notebook” Internet Safety Page.

Darren and Beth Laur ©1999


50 Responses to “Top 10 Safety Tips For Women”

  • Shelley Shelley says:

    Great Article on women traveling alone.

  • Nisha Mittal says:

    A great article. I have recently read this blog article written by Nita Kapoor. She is raising a question on why the travel tips for women are all about safety. She is also wondering how we’ll ever make life easier for women travelling alone. Read the blog here:

  • Shelley Shelley says:

    Dear Father God.

    Lord I lift up any woman who is facing a situation like was said in this blog. I pray that you will help find help in time of need in Jesus Mightyname amen

  • Raya pal says:

    it just a wonderful tips . I suggest to my friend and my sisters who live in a village and they don’t have any protection . Thanks it really helped my friends and now they know how to they protect herself . Thank you so much.

  • K says:

    Pepper spray is illegal to carry in Canada, and any women using it, even in self-defense, will be prosecuted on carrying prohibited weapons charges.

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Thanks for the support Goode. We appreciate your endorsement. Sorry about the spelling. It is the difference between American and Canadian spelling of the word defense/defence. I hope it doesn’t distract too much from the topic.

  • Goode says:

    Self-defense is spelled wrong through the whole article, but still all the stuff my dad taught during his women self-defense training is discussed in the article. Well done, just use spell check next time ?

  • Sharon Sharon says:

    good article thanskd you for posting this, i am like suzanne i was nearly attacked too while walking to a bible study but i fought him and broke my glasses in the fight i wish i knew this then

  • Michael Jantzen M. Jantzen says:

    Hello Loops,

    Thanks for the much needed reminder to stay safe and to notify the authorities of suspicious behaviour. That could truly save people from harm. Take care!

  • Loops says:

    When I was in high school, I was walking home & it was about a 1mile walk home. It was one of those daylight savings days that start to darken the city around 4ish. As I was maybe less than a quarter mile away, a “rapist” van pulled up to the curve to where I was walking. Then some guys said “Get in”! I got so scared that on reaction, I just started saying to myself “no,no,no!” And started running home. It was so scary & I was so shocked as to what almost happened I didn’t call the police. To this day I regret not doing it. So if anyone ever approaches you & there is an opportunity, RUN!

  • Lorie says:

    This is a really good list of safety tips. People often overlook the fact that crimes can happen in hotels or while they’re on vacation,so I like that you added that in:) Never open your room door unless you know the person behind it.

  • Suzanne says:

    I was almost attacked while walking at the park across the street from where I live. Thankfully my fiancé heard a commotion and came looking for me on his bike. It was actually a woman-she tried to hit me with her car and then pulled up next to me and got out of her car and was screaming incoherently and was trying to grab me and hit me. She got away and I’m still shaken by the incident. Sometimes it’s not only our male counterparts that we have to worry about-even our fellow females can be attackers! God bless everyone and stay safe!

  • kamesh says:

    well it is more useful.I will jst instruct dis to my sistrs and g.frds..thanks a lot.

  • Sharri says:

    I agree with you about all of this. The being aware of your surroundings is the most important aspect, I believe. Also I believe you have to use your sixth sense. It has come in handy for me in my life many times, just feeling I get and I avoid situations. Thank You. I to carry pepper spray in my purse. Also I am a firm believer in taking control of my security and being prepared. Thank You…

  • Shriya mishra says:

    Awesome one really helped me a lot!! As for my project I got 10/10 it helped me..(safety tips for women)

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Hi Dhaarna, nothing can replace being able to learn from a qualified instructor and receiving ‘hands-on’ training. I would recommend that you look in your area for someone who can provide you with that kind of training.

  • Dhaarna says:

    Hi i am a clg student n mostly travel alone. The tips are really great but what to do if someone grabs ur hands or totally blocks you n u cant move?i noe some moves but i am not trained in any defensive skills…

  • aaron says:

    This is totally correct. On the spot, the best option is to spray a pepper or chilli powder into the predator’s eyes. And when he’ll hold on his eyes, you just need to run as fast as you can. The other safety measures are good as well, you definitely need self-awareness and self-defence training to be more stronger because these cases are increasing day by day.

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    It would seem, Nicole, that different situations require different responses. While I would agree with them that leaving the primary crime scene makes it more likely that a victim would be in danger and less likely that investigators are able to find you, there may be some situations where that is the safest option.

    Have the police been successful in finding and charging the guy who attacked you?

  • nicole says:

    #4 has me livid. Perhaps you should consider a revision. If I had made screamed not only would have he killed me, no one was around and he would’ve killed me. Same with trying to call 911 so they could get my location or running. He most certainly would have raped AND murdered me!

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    That must have been scary Ruby. You must have caught him off guard. Did you contact the authorities afterward? Did you ever find out who it was?

  • Ruby says:

    15 yrs ago, this Dec 8, I was woken up with a knife to my throat. To this day I still freak out if someone comes up behind me or whispers in my right ear. After much pleading with my attacker, he got off of me walked to my doorway, he did this a few times. The last time he turned to me and said, “give me __________, or I’ll kill your kids.” I sat up grabbed everything I could to throw at him as I charged him telling him I was going to kill him, over & over. He ram out I locked the doors & called 911.

  • Barbara Alpert Barbara Alpert says:

    Mary, Thank you for the warning to other women out there when choosing a place to live. Very good that you realize that verbal abuse is not right and you need not tolerate it. I pray that God guides you into a safer area and place to live.

  • mary says:

    I have to move because I am being verbally attacked by a man in a bar accross from the building wher i live. The police say nothing can be done until something happens to me! So women be very careful where you go to live.

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Thanks Ken, it is nice to have the input from an expert

  • Ken Haynes says:


    We love the work you are doing here and the advise – kudos.

    I just wanted to comment on the statement that “Surprisingly, 15-20% of people will not be incapacitated even by a full-face spray.”

    Incapacitation is not necessary in order for a Pepper Spray to be effective. I would like to clarify at his point that this statistic applies more to CS Sprays than it does Pepper Sprays. Pepper Spray will affect every attacker. It is true that it may take longer to be effective on certain categories of person, but they will be effected as Pepper Spray is an inflammatory agent. It will induce coughing, choking and nausea, as well as dilating the eye capillaries resulting in temporary blindness. The mucous membranes will swell making breathing difficult, so it may well be effective in terms of being able to escape an attacker. The time is takes to work on a person is in part, related to the heat rating of the product which is measured in SHUs (Scoville Heat Units). I recommend sprays that are rated at a minimum of 2 Million SHUs. If the manufacturer does not state this measurement – don’t buy it. Don’t be fooled by percentages of OC (Oleresin Capsicum) stated on the product as this is no guarantee of strength. The mental state of the attacker also has a bearing on the effectiveness of the spray but the spray will work, it may however, take longer to be effective.

    As a former police officer (13 years), I know that CS spray (which works differently) does not always have an effect on an attacker but pepper spray always does, albeit to various degrees.

    As you said, nobody should rely on a self-defense weapon as escape is always the best option. In fact, spray and run is highly recommended but only if just running is not a viable option.

    Please let me know if we can assist you in any way as we are always happy to help charities and not for profit organizations of your genre.

    Tip: Mace is a brand, not a type of spray. Mace manufacture both CS and Pepper Sprays.


    Disclosure: We sell both Pepper Sprays and CS Sprays.

  • Doris Beck Doris says:

    Thanks for your vote of confidence about the tips in this article Agnes! It’s always good to hear that our authors are right on!

    So Terra, to you, you asked what you should do? Just follow the tips in this article!!

    Sheila, I agree that using both your first and last name is never a good idea online! Good reminder for all of us!

  • Agnes Robey says:

    I am a police officer and I like these tips. Everything that is on here is what I tell women who ask me “what should they do if attached and how to do it”. I mostly agree with the statement that ““Sixth sense.” “Gut instinct.”. Just like a dog, when they get angry, the hair on the back of their neck will stand up. Well, When the hair stands up on the back of your neck, don’t second guess the situation, trust what your body is telling you.

  • Sheila says:

    A couple of years ago, I had a PR person for my political party tell me to change all my internet sign ons to my first and last name. That was the absolute worst advice I have ever taken. I have a stalker now. The police have been decent about giving me advice and they think they know who it is but, in the end, I wish I had ignored this person’s advice.

    Thanks for the article.

  • Terra Chang says:

    What if I 15-17 years old, and I’m walking, alone, near my neighborhood? How to defend myself? Can I hide something to arm myself? Also, you’re near-sighted.

  • Andrew Andrew says:

    I know when I was in Central America my girlfriend always had pepper spray in her hand when we walked at night… It came in handy one evening when we had Transvestites following us.. thankfully we did not have to use it though but we came pretty close!

  • Sherry says:

    VWA advised me when I was going through court issues and protection from my abusive ex that I should place keys between each of my fingers when a threat of being attacked. It is useful not only in protection of my ex but also any other attacker. Keep your keys easily at your disposal so you don’t have to dig for your keys in your purse.

    She also mentioned that if I’m in danger when going to my car for example, politely ask someone to walk you to your car, preferrably a male that looks trustworthy, explain your being followed and you need them to walk you to your car so you can get to your car safely.

    Keep your cellphone in your purse so you can call 911 if you are in danger.

    Ladies…never go with a man when he needs you to help you carry something to his car. Like groceries for example. Many women are abducted using this deceitful method by predatory men.

    Never walk alone at night and that includes underground parking lots, or on the streets. Walking with a male co-worker after work at night to your car or walking with a male friend or boyfriend or husband on the streets at night, decreases your chances of being attacked by a predator. Men are perceived to be threats to a predator.

    God bless and stay safe!

  • JT says:

    Do NOT use hornet spray, wasp spray, bear spray or any other non-human deterrent spray. These are labeled with warnings to not use them on humans. In our ridculously warped legal system, you could be prosecuted for using these products against an attacker.

  • Alfred Alfred says:

    Thank you for this article! It is a sad but true fact that evil lurks, and we need to be ready to defend ourselves. I’ve just copied out and printed these 11 things (including your tip, Miranda).
    Even Jesus advised His followers to be prepared for attackers. In Luke 22:38-40 the disciples answered Him: 38 … “See, Lord, here are two swords.” “That is enough,” he replied. 39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. NIV.

  • Miranda says:

    This is a great article. I only have one thing to add: Sometimes, if you don’t know the area that you’re in very well (which, if you are walking by yourself in an area you are not familiar with – You should know better!) keep in mind who you talk to for directions! Remember that when you ask for directions to somewhere specific you are giving away your FUTURE LOCATION, whether it be a hotel, a restaurant… This makes it so very easy to follow you and find you later, at night or when you are alone.

    Another thing that I’ve learned from my Defensive Tactics classes is how valuable the ‘Show of Force’ is. If, when you look at a person, you look like you can handle yourself, they are much more likely to leave you alone. There have been many studies on this. Walk quickly (but not as if you are running scared), as if you know exactly where you are heading. Bring your cell – any communications device is your lifeline. If you are being attacked and are incapacitated, you want to conceal that phone until you have time to call for help. Don’t give your attacker the opportunity to break that lifeline. Best of all: Fight back. It scares the crap out of a lot of them… Good luck. Please be safe :)

  • Doris Beck Doris says:

    That’s really smart idea Christine to make sure that whatever you decide to arm yourself with you also know how to use! Good thinking!

  • Christine says:

    I prefer to carry the strongest pepper spray available. It’s on my key chain and it’s in my hand almost all the time I’m out and about. I have sprayed some practice shots and know how, when and when not to use it. Kubatons are a cool tool also.

  • Shelley Shelley says:

    I agree with that You should keep yourself safe from the enemy.
    I took judo many years ago and feel safer for it.
    It also helps me when I had a fall recently and was able to protect myself.
    I am not an expert, in judo but feel confident in that I can protect myslef.
    I also pray for His protection always.
    I also look around a lot at things that do not seem right and if no one around-then pray about it.

  • Cherie says:

    Very informative. I wanted to comment on the pepper spray. It could very well be a false sense of security. You may be better off with a can of wasp and hornets spray. First of all, it will spray up to 27 ft. and you don’t have to be close up, which may not work on a rainy day, or on a windy day, it can blow into your face. Also, with the wasp spray, the attacker is blinded until he can get to a hospital for an antidote. It may be a big can but it won’t be hard to find in your purse.

    Like Cynthia, I carry a Glock, and won’t have a problem using it. I’m a competitive shooter, and DON’T recommend buying a gun, and getting a carry license without taking a course with a certified instructor. Generally they will have a gun you can use before you buy one. Also, Glock and Smith & Wesson has a try before you buy program. You don’t want to buy a gun you can’t control but you do want to stop the attacker. So call around and find a firearms dealer that will allow you try various calibers that fit your hand, and you feel comfortable with it.

    One last thing, be certain you fully comprehend the liability associated with using a gun for self defense. Check into insurance that will cover your liability. It’s not expensive and well worth the price.

    [Comment redacted, please see our Terms of Service specifically as it pertains to posting ads in the comments.]

    Best wishes to you for your safety!

  • Doris Beck Doris says:

    Sounds like you know exactly what to do Cynthia which is awesome. I wish more women would take the simple steps outlined in this article to be safe as well.

  • Cynthia says:

    I never talk to strangers, one rule my mother taught me. I never open the door to anyone if I am not expecting company. I drive with my doors lockeed amd my windows closed. I lock my doors even during the day. I am lucky to live in a state that allows me to carry a firearm and I do know how to use it and I know that if I had to protect myself I would not hesitate for a second to protect myself. If I am out walking I always walk agaist traffic, and I do not use headphones or my cell phone when I am walking. Women have to take responsibility for personal saftey because you never know who the bad guy is.

  • If I may chime in:
    Try and carry very little in your hands and allowing you to bring them to bear to fight off an attack more readily. This is a factor in victim selection. If you scan your surroundings and know what is going on behind you at all times you are that much harder a target. Criminals like the element of speed and sunrise.

    On self defense, do yourself a favor and Google Dr Ruthless and watch her You Tube videos. She shows you practical instinctive moves based on speed and timing not power and strength. Well worth watching and practicing!! You will see a petite woman dishing it out real world style in full contact scenarios reminding us that dynamite comes in small packages!!


  • Tom says:

    Hi guys, there is a great free video on self defence fundamentals here:
    This is not my site or anything, I had it sent to me and really rate what this guy is saying. You have to put in your email address but you can opt out and they haven’t sent me any emails.
    Cheers, Tom

  • Guest says:

    Even wives and girlfriends also need personal safety training too. They cannot always depend on husbands and boyfriends to protect them all the time. Like single females, they’re also at risk for kidnapping and rape by other guys, even if they’re cheating on their husbands and boyfriends, whether it be online or off, which is even worse, even though these females do it anyway without knowing what will happen to them. Believe it or not, women who cheat or even two-time their men face a lot of dangerous consequences.

  • Awareness of your surroundings like stated above is the most important factor but because crime is so rampant its just crazy not to be prepared to defend yourself. I have a site that provides non-lethal protection like pepper sprays that are effective at stopping an attacker cold! All woman should at least carry pepper spray! Sorry for the blatant plug but I know Women need to protect themselves and not become a statistic. Heres my web site. I would be happy to answer any questions you might have. Thanks!

  • Every women and child should have personal safety training. Home invasion happens more then we think and with the economy the way it is will cause people to do crazy things. Your Top ten tips is a great guide to every family member. This should be printed out, Place on the refrigerator a complete guide to direct your family. Thanks Donna

  • claudette says:

    We are told not to open doors especially if you do not expect anyone, but from time to time the elderly are often so please to hear from someone, anyone and forget there are bad people who would do them harm,,,, At present I am aware of all these crimes towards people, and often wonder when I am much older how would I be with my knowledge on safety… I do feel for the elderly and vulnerable when they are taken advantage of…,PEOPLE TRY AND KEEP SAFE…

  • Cassie says:

    Thanks, really helped me. :). My friend luckily didn’t open the door when she heard a ‘baby’ crying. Turns out it was robber.

    Thanks again. :)

  • Arletha Skinner says:

    I live in an apartment and the upstairs tenants are coming in my apartment moving things and turning off my TV. There have several break-ins and I leave te TV on.
    The police will not talk to them the manager is not helping. I have decided to leave because they are outside my apartment late at night making noise to try and get me to open the door. Yes, crimes against women have increased

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