Rape Escape! Do You Have a Plan?

Posted by: John W. Zimmer
Under: Self-defense
9 Apr 2011

We here at My Self-Defense Blog strive to keep self defense in peoples minds! For girls and women the risk of rape is a real possibility at some point in their lives. There are other dangers like assault, robbery, kidnapping but the real fear I think is rape for many women.

Generally I try to make the point that women should take a martial art ( judo, karate, boxing, wrestling, jiu-jitsu, kung fu, muay thai, aikido…) or even a short term self defense class! I make this point but I know that if it is not in the woman’s interests why would she go to all of the effort and expense to take this on?

In this post I will try to deal with this subject realistically within the realm of possibility and talk about what a good plan should include. To start this topic off, take a look at yet another self defense course going around and then we can talk.



Have you ever visited a few car lots and listened to why ford was better then chevy or toyota was better than nissian? I have always said fighting is fighting, meaning in this case true women are lighter than men and they have to use their leverage and weight to their advantage but so what? Some of what this guys statements are true but no one has the market cornered on fighting.


Ok the good about the video is the techniques are simple and easy for a girl to learn (and remember) but what is with the woman willingly going to the ground? Ground fighting unless you are a great ground fighter is a losing proposition for a lighter person (women weight less then men generally). But I did not really want to evaluate this video but rather just start the conversation about a plan.


Do you have an idea of how to keep safe or a plan? Man or woman? I am a man and I do and I have had one since I was a teenager (it has developed over time).


For me I do all of the stuff you hear about such as being aware and not distracting myself in public. I’ve learned how to fight and use a baseball bat or staff (so I can pick up whatever is around and fight with it if need be). I’ve learn how to reason with unreasonable people and even how to act crazy (as I am part crazy). :)


Here is what I think of most women’s self defense plans (as I do with most men’s self defense plans). What plan?


As an example my wife and I have tried to teach her daughter common sense such as:


  • Go out at night with friends – not by herself
  • Don’t go jogging at night
  • Don’t use an iPod when jogging
  • Roll the window up and lock the doors when driving through surface streets
  • Don’t talk on the cell phone or text in public (when she should be aware of her surroundings)


All of this advice and more has fell on deaf ears because while she gave lip service to her mom and I while she was in high-school, now that she is in college she does what she wants. She is a smart girl in every other way but really dumb in survival skills. She sees here friends doing everything and figures that nothing happens to them so her mom and I are just over protective.


This is the real issue I can see, people generally do not plan for something that do not see as real. I mean why get all sweaty trying to pick up a skill that one does not really enjoy just for the off chance that they will be one of the 1/3 of women (estimate) that is the victim of an attempted sexual assault (at some point of their life)?


Most of those attempts will be from acquaintances but is that any better or the danger any less real? I don’t know – I mean it is not ok no matter who rapes but if you know the rapist does that mean he will not try and kill you? I’ve often wondered why some have bandied about the 70% known as seemingly a mitigating factor.


This is human psychology to ignore possible dangers. Why 30% obesity rate proves that! If people took heed to every real danger they would put down those french fries! :)


So lets throw all of this stuff out and not dwell on it. Do what you can and get a plan together!


Here is what I suggest for women. Husbands, boyfriends, friends (male or female that can fight), take your women friends under your wing and occasionally talk about how to get out of danger and some moves that just might make the difference.


What we did for my wife’s daughter is to try and mitigate some of the more foolish decisions. We pay her cell phone bill so she can seek help. I have taught here how to kick, knee, palm, & elbow on occasions. We talked bout walking against traffic if she was going to jog anyway. Here mom calls and texts back and forth to occasionally throw in the mom worries that might just make the difference someday (I hope so).


The women in your life (no matter if you are a man or a women) need to be supported and helped to work through the process of good decision making when it comes to possible self defense situations. If you have expertise you can help.


So a plan is not anything hard and fast but rather can be how to aviod dicey situations. How to warn off attackers so they know you will not go easily. How to escape simple assaults. Yelling “Fire” if you are attacked so people will actually try to figure out what is going on rather than not getting involved. And yes how to bite, kick, scratch out eyes, slap ears, and run like the wind!


Bruce Lee once said on an episode of Longstreet, “Be water my friend.” Meaning you do not need to have a complex plan do come out ok but rather being willing to do anything to get away! 


Here is an old video to close out this subject. Women do have to be aware that some guys will try to take advantage of circumstances as this video points out. There are a lot of good common sense tips that are timeless!




I hope this approach can help all of those women that will not take the time to learn a more traditional fighting style and come up with a workable plan as well as not making mistakes that will increase the risk. This should more realistic for all women with your help.

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11 Responses to “Rape Escape! Do You Have a Plan?”

  1. Matt Klein Says:

    Excellent post John. Or is it “You wanna know crazy!” John? lol. Can just see you with the baseball bat as your daughter’s date arrives at the door.

    Yes, I also question the wisdom of going to the ground against a bigger, stronger opponent. She has a better chance of escaping while standing up. Will agree that the legs are a big equalizer as some of my black belt girl’s kicks could put a man in the hospital. A trained grappler/jujitsu specialist on the other hand could do all right, as some of our black belt females who are trained in it are pretty formidable on the ground.

    Agree the best defense is avoidance. Be a hard target, be aware. Excellent advice.
    Matt Klein recently posted..Best Kids Martial Arts MoviesMy Profile

  2. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Hey Matt, as always training is the great equalizer. :)

    I thought if a different title but the focus of this was more, “Hey – be realistic and plan for something you will really do.” Not that most women could not train and become great fighters – just that most have no interest so creating a general plan would work.

    I did a post one time on the Sandra Bullock defense where a girl remembered how Sandra bested an attacker and tried it – it worked! :)

  3. Jamie Hayward Says:

    Great article. When my girlfriend and I are watching the news or horror movies we often talk about what we’d do in that situation. Thankfully my girlfriend does martial arts so it’s an easy ‘game’ to play.

    Also when it come to adrenaline, men get a big instant hit that is very powerful but it doesn’t last long, whereas women get less of a surge but it’s more sustained so last longer. Therefore every second that a woman can survive against a man attacking them, it theoretically increases their chances of survival. It also explains why women are always angry about incidents hours after the man has forgotten about it 😀

  4. Matt Klein Says:

    Another good plan is to always keep your keys in your hand. You can open car or house doors faster and can use them to strike your attackers in the eyes. I say, when your life is threatened, there are no rules. Fight dirty!
    Matt Klein recently posted..Best Kids Martial Arts MoviesMy Profile

  5. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Hi Jamie,

    Good to know there are like minds out there! Wow – I had not considered the adrenaline thing with women but now that you mention it – things don’t bother me for long and my wife does stay keyed up longer. :)

    My hope is the avoidance or rapid escape or if not – the quick effective strikes (a trained fighter can dole out). I did know one woman’s husband (she was a student) that told me when they get to fighting he had to pick up a bat! She was a brown belt and did not take any guff I guess. Thanks for the comment James – Your girl friend sounds like a keeper!

    Hi Matt! Agreed on the key thing. You get conflicting “experts” telling you how to hold the keys to be the most effective but I think the most important way is the one you do! Have you done a post about improvised self-defence (aussi spelling) weapons?

  6. Dr. J Says:

    Tough subject john!

    We had a rape incident here where they did jump out of the bushes with a jogging woman and hit her immediately in the face with a handgun and that was that! No question, prevention with awareness and location avoidance is more important than any situation where the fighting starts.

    I do support martial arts training, if for no other reason that it will give you confidence during all those times you do not have a problem but are in situations where you could.

  7. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Great analysis Dr. J!

    No one is immune to the sucker punch and why so much emphasis is placed on awareness, distance, and avoidance in karate. One should never place themselves knowingly in harms way. It is not the victim’s fault they are targeted and it is not fair.

    Karate does not solve the world’s ills but rather gives one another tool in their belt to mitigate risk.

    Safety is but an illusion that can be fragile.

    I did a post on the sucker punch before but I think another one is in order to address the concern of how to lessen exposure.

    I once told a co-worker (I had a driving job) how I left a car length space in front of me at stop lights when I was driving in bad areas of town so I could escape if someone tried to box me in or shoot me. He thought it was funny I even thought of such things. I guess I am over cautious maybe. I still cannot walk around a corner with out a slight head check before my body rounds the corner (so I could jerk back and counter attack).

    I don’t think it is right that the world is not a real safe place to be but think of this. I’m a black belt in karate with tons of real fighting experience and I won’t venture into party atmospheres willingly even though I could probably handle the heat. Why? Exactly… Why? Why tempt fate?

    When I used to work the door I got in a fight a week for two years. Towards the end of that job I swore I would never fight for anyone else again. I would not put myself at risk for a bar. You see after that point (I was 23) I decided to stop hanging out a rough bars. I have not been in a fight in the last 30 years just by avoiding a place that people drink and vie for companionship.

    So to put this in perspective if the jogger had felt unsafe running in broad daylight alone she might have fared better. But she probably felt safe and had jogged alone many times. This time a bad thing happened but for 1/3 of the women something like this will be attempted in their lives. Hard to say if the change in behavior (to mitigate risk) is worth the hassle of trying to find running partners or driving to jog around lots of people. That is not fair but may be prudent.

    Finally I agree with your assessment Dr. J! Tough subject!

  8. Lori (West Coast Jiu-jitsu & Self-Defense) Says:

    Awareness is one of the most important things to teach women for avoiding dicey situations, even more powerful than learning combat moves (though it’s well worth learning those too!). Discouraging women from engaging in activities that hamper their ability to see what’s going on around them is important. So many women run while plugged into their ipod or walk around talking on the phone, paying no attention to their surroundings. I wish more women’s self-defense courses focused more on personal awareness. All too often they focus entirely on physical combat, which isn’t the end-all be-all for women’s self-defense.

  9. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Hi Lori,

    How true! The best offense is always a good defense and more to your point by simply not being there or being verbally assertive and diffusing a difficult situation rather than resorting to physical combat.

    I do tend to focus on the mechanics of fighting and I totally agree that the focus should be on awareness and avoidance.

    I’ve always endorsed a layered approach to self defense including avoidance, awareness, running, diversion, trickery, non-lethal (hard to carry guns in CA) weapons, physical self-defense (to the point one can get away safely) and actually trying to win a physical confrontation (the very last option).

    Thanks for your insightful comment!

  10. Jeremiah Says:

    Hi I agree with a lot of things you mention in this post! In fact, I’ve heard of many women raped or harassed when they chose to jog late at night, especially in our campus with a lot of trees. So number one consideration is prevention.

    In our Arnis / Escrima club, one girl was able to successully thwart a pervert who was trailing her, by hitting him with a basic strike on the neck with her umbrella. However it was a good thing she happened to bring one along. I guess martial arts training should be able to teach women how to use everyday items like umbrellas, handbags, jewelry (yes, even jewelry!) for protection.
    Jeremiah recently posted..Ray Floro Streamlined Escrima SystemMy Profile

  11. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Hi Jeremiah,

    I think if I was a woman running alone I would take along a long skinny flashlight that could double as a weapon. One has to be careful in California that one does not call it a weapon because here intent is everything. But if a woman happened to have it – she could use it in self defense legally.

    I’m totally with you on improvised weapons! Thanks for commenting.