Self-Defense


Self-Defense is an Individual Fight Against Trafficking

In 2016, the United Nations released statistics on the demographics of global human trafficking. A majority of victims are women and young girls, “some 71 per cent,” while nearly a third are children. Those percentages cover the broad spectrum of human trafficking, though sex trafficking is an inevitable aspect of that statistic. According to the 2016 UNODC Global Report, “women and girls are usually trafficked for marriage” and, unfortunately, sexual exploitation.


Trafficking can take place through any means, but often, women are attacked and abducted violently to confinement as a precursor to being sexually trafficked. Women can, and should, fight back. It’s imperative that women, and young teenage girls, understand how to defend against an attacker and avoid becoming a victim of any source of aggression.


Below are some key self-defense strategies to fight back or disarm an aggressor. These defense strategies are particularly useful in that they do not require extensive strength and are not reliant on a women’s size. Most, in fact, rely on techniques surrounding one’s center of gravity and aim to demobilize an aggressor with the goal of quickly disengaging and running away.


If someone grabs your wrist or arm:

  1. Grab your fist that is held back by the aggressor with your free hand.

  2. Swing the arm towards the head so that the elbow of the grabbed arm is up.

  3. Slice down with that upward elbow to escape the aggressor’s grasp.

If you are grabbed from behind:

  1. Grab and pull down on the aggressor’s hands to avoid a potential chokehold.

  2. Drop down low, shifting the center of gravity of the exchange to your body.

  3. Once you dropdown, quickly turn your face to the side, parallel to the aggressor’s body.

  4. Step back behind the aggressor so that your leg that’s closest to them is planted behind their back leg.

  5. Move hands from the aggressor’s arms to the sides of their knee joint.

  6. Pull both legs back underneath them, pick them up slightly, and then drop abruptly.

If someone pulls or grabs your hair:

  1. Lock your hands around the attacker's. Squeeze in your elbows to protect the face.

  2. Move under the attacker’s arm and swing to the back of the attacker’s body.

  3. Rotate with the same procedure around the rotational direction of the wrist.

  4. Dislodge the attacker’s hand from your hair and grab the wrist tightly.

  5. Push twisted arm towards the ground. With enough pressure, you can dislocate the shoulder blade if that is necessary to escape the attack.

If you have been pinned down and are caught in a chokehold:

  1. Grab each of the attacker's elbows with the opposite hand, as if you were crossing your arms.

  2. Hinge your crossed arms down at the crook of the elbow so that the attacker is forced to lean back.

  3. Push your legs up on the attacker’s shoulders and cross your legs over the heels.

  4. Raise your hips up suddenly to break the attacker’s elbows and disengage them.

If you are being choked in a standing position:

  1. Lift one arm upward.

  2. Turn your entire body to the opposite side of your raised fist.

  3. Crunch down with your once lifted arm to dislodge the attacker’s hand placed on the front of your body.

  4. Strike your free elbow to the attacker’s face.

These self-defense moves are reactionary to common assaults and attacks women face on a daily basis. There are countless other strategies you can implement to keep yourself safe. BE LOUD. Yell! Scream-anything you can do to get other people’s attention or to produce an auditory warning to an aggressor. FIGHT HARD. Fight the aggressor or defend against them; just don’t stop moving. Don’t let them take you to a secondary location or incapacitate you in any way. If, after attempting these strategies, fighting back or defending yourself doesn’t result in the attacker backing off, feign compliance until you have a window for escape.


While I can’t promise women and young girls that they will be completely safe from the dangers of assault or sex trafficking, considering the high rate of such violence against women, what I can do is offer some advice.


There are many different ways to protect oneself. Learning self-defense is one integral way to stay safe, but ultimately, my advice is to do whatever it takes to protect yourself and to defeat the traffickers or attackers. You as a victim do not owe these aggressors anything other than defining and fighting for your boundaries. Don’t stop fighting and fight back hard. Do whatever it takes, no matter how extreme, to escape danger and stay safe. You have the power to do so, and a right to negate violence in any means of self-defense.


Unfortunately, you can never be completely prepared for any and all situations, but it is always helpful to keep learning and practicing. Consider checking out the videos I used as references for the self-defense moves. They have a lot more resources and information included with them to help you stay safe and prepared.


Buzzfeed's "Simple Self Defense Moves You Should Know"

Joanna Soh Official's "5 Self-Defense Moves Every Woman Should Know"

Written by Audrey B.

Illustrated by Kaylee L.


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