Self Preservation – Advice I give my daughters

Many years ago I was looking at starting up a self defence class (I was teaching JuJitsu at the time). This document was based on conversations with people who had been attacked and reading up on the topic at the time. I never did anything with it, but now that I have daughters, it is central to how I talk to them about self defence – or more accurately – self preservation. After years of tweaking and a few days of conversation on facebook recently, I felt I could publish it. My hope is that the advice here, the advice I give my own daughters, can be of help to others should they need it.

A serious note, this is just an article. Any advice in here is taken at your own risk and I will take no responsibility for anything that happens as a result of that!

Self Preservation

  • It is estimated that over 50,000 rapes are committed every year.
  • On average, only 13,000 (25%) are reported.
  • 15% go to trial.
  • 6% lead to rape convictions.  That is around 800 of the 50,000.
  • The UK has one of the lowest conviction rates in Europe.

5 main points of Self Preservation – C.A.R.E.S.

You  Attacker
Avoid / AwareOpportunity
Respond / RetreatConfrontation

Finally, you must REPORT the attack!


It sometimes seems that the press blames the victim for attacks more than they blame the attackers. “They wore what?  An obvious invitation”. “They were where? That was an easy situation to avoid”. The truth is, it is always the fault of the person who made a choice to attack. It should be your choice to say no in any situation. Sadly, that choice is taken from people all to often. That is why the rest of this document is even necessary. If you are attacked, it is not your fault.

Avoid / Awareness (Opportunity)

  • In the street, it is likely an attacker will be on the look out for a victim and an opportunity to attack that victim. The victim could be random, could be a friend or relative or could be previously chosen. Without the opportunity though, it is much harder for an attack to take place.
  • Be self-aware and aware of your surroundings.  Do not put your self into potentially dangerous situations. So avoid places that make you uneasy – this is your minds way of trying to tell you something. If going around the dark alley means an extra 10 minutes walking time then so be it!
  • Don’t bury your face in a phone.
  • Just because you know someone, does not mean they are not a potential threat.  Most rapes are committed by people known to the victim.
  • Trust your instincts, over thinking a situation can be fatal.

Respond / Retreat (Confrontation)

  • If someone confronts you whether it seems threatening or not – back away / retreat.  Give your self room to escape should you need to and again be aware of your surroundings.
  • If you feel threatened, ask them to move out of your way.
  • If they want your money, phone or some other possession, and you have no opportunity to escape, just give it to them.  Possessions can be replaced.
  • If you continue to feel threatened and have no escape route, start to call for Help as loud as you can.
  • If you are actually grabbed, you must respond.  Try to shrug them off or break their grip. You are trying to create an opening to escape.

Escape  /  Survive (Attack)

  • Crunch time.  All other options have gone, now you must escape and/or survive.  There are no rules.  Shout, scream and fight as hard as you can and if the opportunity should arise, escape.
  • If you are in a position where you are no longer able to fight (overpowered, hurt), let them think you have given up.  Once their guard is down, start again.
  • Remember though, this is about survival with the hope of escape.  If fighting is going to get you seriously hurt or worse, then you will have to do what they want.  As horrific as it sounds a trip to a hospital is far better than one to the morgue.


Report the attack, try to remember as much detail about your attack as you can;

  • skin colour
  • hair colour
  • tattoos
  • scars
  • facial hair
  • age
  • height
  • build
  • clothes
  • smell
  • Anything you can remember!

Remember,  only about 20% of rapes or attacks are, help bring those stats up!

The Law (UK) – Other countries must consult their laws.

“A person may use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances for the purposes of self-defence.”
Basically in the heat of the moment, if you feel that the threat is real you can use enough force to end the situation and escape.  The law is on your side if you use some restraint.  However, at the end of it all, your family would rather visit you in prison than at the cemetery.

The way to look at it is:  You are attacked and defend your self by knocking out the attacker.  At this point he is of no threat to you.  If you then escape and call the Police you have shown restraint and used only the force that was necessary to survive.  However, if you knock out the attacker and then set about kicking him on the floor etc. you are now using excessive and unnecessary force and you will most likely be prosecuted.


  • It should be your choice to say no to any situation you feel uncomfortable with, sadly some will take away that choice.
  • Avoid situations that are obviously a risk (dark alleys, poorly lit areas at night etc).
  • You have to be aware of your surroundings – you can’t do that with a phone in your face.
  • Sometimes it is unavoidable, that is when self-defence knowledge will potentially help you out!
  • Shout, scream and fight with every fibre of your being if possible.
  • As soon as there is a route to escape, take it.
  • Whatever the outcome, the attacker is at fault. They decided to attack you, you did not decide to be attacked.
  • Learn self-defence. One day it could save your life.


This advice is not a legal statement. I take no responsibility for how you use the information, you use it at your own risk. Act within the laws of your country.

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Also published on Medium.

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