As your daughter walks alone across a mall parking lot, she has the uneasy feeling she is being followed. She glances behind only to see an unassuming middle-aged man walking toward her. She walks faster, but within seconds he grabs her from behind and pushes her between two cars. Does she know what to do? The key to surviving a threatening situation is to have a plan and to act upon it quickly.

"Women and children need to think ahead," said female police office Sandy Sawtelle. "Play, 'What if?' Think, 'If this happens, I'll do that."

Whether an assailant knocks a female to the ground, grabs her from behind, tries to push or pull her to another location or uses any other tactic, she can use the following techniques to get away. Not every technique will work in every situation. She must decide which move will be most effective.

"If you do get attacked, don't lose your head," said Sawtelle. "Most men are stronger than women, but there are ways for a person to take anyone down. You can win."

-The first thing to remember is to keep your eyes open. Evaluate the situation. Decide where you will run once you break his energy. "Always run to people, to the road, to the crowd," said Sawtelle.
-If the attacker grabs from the front, strike the base of your palm under or on the tip of his nose. Try jabbing your fingertips into the base of his throat.
-If he holds you close, slam your hands onto both ears. Try pinching and twisting his upper lip. Squeeze his throat under the jaw line. Grab his hair, tight at the scalp and pull his head over your shoulder and away from you. If you can, push his chin with one hand as you pull his hair with the other. Try striking an eye to make him reel back.
-If he's holding your arms, knee him in the groin or slam your forehead into his face. Don't be afraid of cuts and bruises. Do what it takes to survive. Getting away is what is important.
-If an attacker grabs from behind, slam the back of your head into his face. Stomp on the instep of his foot. Grab the inside of his thigh. Reach back, grab an earlobe and yank. Try slamming your elbow into his gut.
-Plant your feet wide and bend your knees to keep from being pulled off balance. The harder he pulls, the lower you get. If he tries to pick you up, bend your knees and drop - get low and wide, fast.
-Resist so you're not pushed into a car or house. If an attacker tries to move you to a second location, the situation is perilous. Lock your elbows near your waist and use his strength to lunge back at him. Use your fear to fuel your fight.

Distraction techniques can also work to your advantage.

-If you're carrying something, throw it one way, then run the other.
-Shift your head and eyes abruptly to one side.
-Pretend you're waving to someone behind the attacker. Do anything unexpected.

"Don't get psyched out. Don't give up," said Sawtelle. "Know you can win. Keep the will to survive. Fight dirty. Kick, punch. Focus your energy, then do whatever it takes. The will to survive is what is important."

To learn more about self-defense, call your local YWCA or women's center for information. Then, sign up. Together, learn to defend yourself, and keep the odds in your favor.

Author's Bio: 

Dede Perkins is host of Bella Online's Daughters site. For weekly articles and links to information on Your Daughter's Health, Communicating with your Daughter, Raising Resilient Daughters, Money and your Daughter, Fun Sites for Her, Shopping for her Perfect Gift, Your Daughter, the Athlete, Homework Help, Girls and Women in History, and Your Creative Daughter, visit