5 Self-Defense Tactics for Senior Citizens
I get dozens of emails a month from senior citizens, Sheepdog Society members included, who are concerned with their perceived inability to defend themselves during a violent encounter. Many of them have specific scenario concerns and others are very general to include topics related to; range of mobility, speed, strength and dealing with certain medical conditions. While these are all great areas for discussion and there are certainly precautions and strategies to employ it doesn’t take away from the fact that senior citizens are often attacked because of their attackers cowardly perception that seniors cannot defend themselves. That is simply not true!
As a senior citizen you need to be prepared with self-defense strategies, tactics and techniques before an attack happens and they need to be practiced often. Imagine your attackers surprise when you effectively fight back and prevent or stop entirely their attack! Obviously, the ideal situation is that you will not be walking alone or find yourself in a potentially dangerous situations, unfortunately in life there will be times when it does occur.
Here are my 5 Self-Defense Tactics for Senior Citizens: (In no particular order)
Before I list them out I want to remind you of this:
Anything you have in your hand can instantly become a weapon! Your car keys, your purse even your groceries. Don’t overlook the obvious. Your attacker has singled you out because he believes you are an easy mark. He believes you will comply with his demands thus not only giving him the physical things he desires of yours but satisfying a sick and twisted moment of power over you. If you find yourself dealing with an attacker…be loud! Make your screams loud and terrifying. This will shock your attacker and alert well-meaning citizens to investigate.
I guess you knew this would be on the list, right? Of course, a gun instantly equals the playing field regardless of your physical limitations. The key here is to have it readily available. You have heard me preach on this enough so I won’t waist your time convincing you that it is a must.
While most of us grew up having pocket knifes we tend to see them as a utility device rather than a self-defense weapon of choice. My grandfather used his “Old Timer” pocketknife to open the mail with it. (I have his knife now and plan to give it to my son when he is mature enough for it) Today, as part of my “Everyday Carry”, I carry a pocketknife specifically designed to fight with. While I may never use it in this capacity I have it. I have made a distinct decision to carry this type of knife for this purpose. Seniors can carry a pocketknife and the vast majority of the Americans you would encounter would never give it a second thought. If you have to use a pocketknife for self-defense be sure to hold it with a firm grip and go for the outside of the rib cage or inner thighs.
Pepper spray, or oleoresin capsicum, is a very potent deterrent to any attack when used in the correct way. It comes in all sizes but the small, hand held canisters can be easily taken along wherever you go in your pocket or handbag. One spray to the face of an assailant and that bad guy will be searching desperately for his next clean breath of oxygen instead of intimidating you. Along with difficulty breathing they will have significant burning of the eyes, skin and mucous membranes. The effects can last for up to 45 minutes giving you time to get out of there. Some pepper spray formulas even contain UV dyes, so if the attacker attempts to wash it off, police will still be able to detect the presence of the pepper spray in the event that the person is apprehended. I will caution you that you can be affected by pepper spray as well so be careful to aim it correctly and mindful of your own distance to him when you deploy it.
While not appropriate in everyone’s day-to-day routine a stun gun can be a useful item to carry as part of your “Everyday Carry”. Stun guns are non-lethal weapons that produce a high voltage shock when activated. Today’s models come in small, hand held versions and often resemble cell phones, cameras, lipstick holders, rings or other everyday items. This means it can be carried in plain sight, or in a very easy to reach location, and used to temporarily disable any attacker, allowing you to make a getaway. There are two different versions of how the electric shock is delivered. One is that the device emits a high voltage electrical shock via two probes and in order for the attacker to be shocked by it the device has to be physically pressed to his skin meaning you are literally standing next to him. The other is a device that shoots a barb-like connected to a live wire over a distance of 2-3 feet. When that barb-like probe hits your attacker it sticks to him much like getting a fishing hook stuck in your finger. This type of device allows you a “stand-off” range of roughly 2-3 feet. This device may or may not be legal for you to own or employ in your state so check your local ordnances to be sure before you attempt to make a purchase.
Any Immediate Solid Object:
Seniors who use a cane can indeed use them as a weapon, if necessary. If you use it swing that cane with all of your might, and it can definitely cause some pain and disorientation to your attacker. Make you swings for the senses; eyes, ears, nose and throat. Attacking the senses causes an involuntary reaction resulting in his hands covering the areas you just hit. His natural instinct is to protect those areas so that no more damage is inflicted to them thus taking his hands (and those attacked senses) out of commission for the time being. It might be just enough of a deterrent to allow you to escape or call for help. If nothing else, the element of surprise can work to your advantage. If you are carrying groceries and can of corn or green beans is a great object to slam into his nose! Oh…let the waterworks of blood and tears ensue! Your car keys can make a very effective weapon that could scratch or poke an assailant. The most effective places to aim for with your keys are the eyes, neck or groin.
While not listed I can tell you the best self-defense is being prepared. Young or old, it is beneficial to learn about self-defense and personal protection. Taking self-defense classes at the local community center, gym, martial arts center will be beneficial. I would encourage you to look up a local MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) gym in your area because many are now teaching seniors how to fight. They would be ecstatic if senior citizens came to them with a desire to learn how to defend themselves. There are inexpensive but effective self-defense products like pepper spray, stun guns that can help you keep yourself safer under any conditions.
Whatever you decide is right for you, practice with it like your life may depend on it!