When we are part of an organization, we have “Standard Operating Procedure” (SOP’s) to follow. If we are in sales, we have an SOP for giving out proposals, or if we are part of the product team, there are SOP for quality control & check. There is a reason why organizations have SOP’s & love them, it takes the guesswork out of the equation, and we all know what to do if a particular situation arises.
What we don’t have is SOP for ourselves. We are literally on autopilot mode every day. We wake up, get ready, have breakfast and head to work, and the same thing when we finish our work & head back home. We think no one is noticing us, and why should they? We mind our own business. Wrong, you are a soft target for people who want to exploit you. In this world 99.9% of people are kind and 99.9% of the times nothing happens to our autopilot mode, but 0.1% of bad people are good enough to create trouble for the remainder of us.
Why have a personal “standard operating procedure”? The same reason why organizations have SOP to take away the guesswork during emergencies.
Self Defence – SOP
You will need to take an inventory, and there are no “one size fits all solution”, but we do have some basic thumb rules.
(a) Start with the time when you are alone in a public place, and this could be the time when you leave for work say early morning or late night or return from work, late in the night or early morning.
(b) Look at what all you carry with you during these times and check your mobility, are your hands-free? Are the things which you bring heavy or light? Can you access items which you carry readily?
(c) Mode of transport: is it your personal car? Do you take public transportation? Or is it a Cab (does not matter if you hire it or the company sends it)
(d) General awareness, are you always on your mobile phone with earphones plugged-in? Do you observe your surroundings?
(e) What is your fitness level? Can you run a 100 meter in a reasonable time without stopping?
(f) Do you carry any self defence tools with you? Say a pepper spray?
Now that we have taken inventory let us start with what we can and should do. Make this your SOP.
- Buy a small good quality waterproof flashlight; this can be used as a weapon in close-quarters to hit the face of the assailant or to illuminate your surroundings to check for possible threats in the dark.
- Keys. I am sure everyone has one, and this should be in your hands. If you add a loop or a string to your key chain, it becomes an even more useful weapon. You can swing the keys at the attacker while maintaining distance.
- Pepper spray. Make sure it is in your hands or in a place which can be reached in an instant when needed.
- Carry less and be mobile. Buy a good quality backpack and keep everything in it so that your hands are free. Do not carry multiple bags. Your mobile phone should be in your pocket or your pack along with earphones. Remember backpack can also be used as a shield.
- It does not matter if you commute by bus or in a cab, keep your earphones off and observe the route & surroundings. Call your family and inform them about the cab details you are travelling loudly so that the cab driver can hear it. Yes, you need to do this every time. Make sure you have downloaded the safety app in your mobile and can use it at short notice. There are several safety apps from state & central governments and also from some private players.
- Start with some fitness routine; I would ideally recommend Krav Maga since it is self-defence and fitness rolled into one. You could go for a jog, hit the gym or walking for 30 minutes or so every day.
- Self-defence tools are not only Pepper Spray or a baton, everyday objects such as water bottle, key chain, ID card, Pen and even newspaper can be used effectively to defend oneself.
All the points mentioned above may not work if you don’t make this a habit or your SOP. Do a quick check of things you are carrying for self defence when heading out. Remember common sense is the first causality in the event of shock/emergency, and muscle memory/habit usually comes to our rescue.
- Buy a small good quality waterproof flash.
- Pay attention to surroundings. Live life intentionally and don’t do autopilot mode
- Buy a pepper spray
- Use Keys as a self defence weapon
- Download a safety app
- Start getting fit. It’s not only good for your health but also to defend yourself
- Think of everyday objects as self defence weapons
- Be mobile, travel with minimum baggage (both in terms of life & in terms of luggage)
- A key factor is to be aware of your options. Keep the self defence tools discussed above handy.