The internet is full of “common sense” tips, regurgitating the same old information with out any real analysis or insight. I suspect that many of these tips originated from police departments who didn’t want to go on record as endorsing active resistance or private citizens being armed. As these tips continue to make the rounds they become more like dogma, and less like doctrine.
1. You can be disarmed and the weapon used against you.
This is true, but only likely if you have a weapon you aren’t willing to use. Criminals don’t have some special weapon disarming skills, and disarms are not trivial. You don’t see ‘disarm the criminal’ on any fast and easy self-defense list. The assailant might have a belief that you are bluffing. Prove them wrong.
Competent, confident weapons handling is a weapons retention skill. If you look like you know what you are doing attempting a disarm won’t seem to be a very attractive option.
2. Common Items can be used as weapons
While this is true, unless the common item in question is in hand at the time this probably irrelevant. Fishing around in a handbag for pen or a hairbrush to fight with isn’t a very practical strategy. Weapons can be used as weapons too, that is what they were designed for. Improvisation is inferior to having a plan and the proper tools.
3. Use your keys as a weapon
Jabbing with your keys might scratch the attacker, but it will also hurt your hand, and in many cases cause you to drop your keys. I agree with having the keys you need handy for unlocking the door you need to open, but I would skip using the keys as a weapon.
4. Scratch your attacker to mark him
The scratch will make him easily identifiable, and the police can get his DNA from your finger nails. The problem is that this will be helpful in catching and convicting the assailant after the fact. I am sure the police can get DNA from a rape kit too, but it as a preventative measure this falls flat.
5. Don’t walk alone
This is true, but it makes a lot of assumptions. This assumes that your companion is going to be useful in confrontation. That companion can turn into a liability really quickly if they don’t know when to shut up, when to fight, and when to run.
“Don’t walk alone” also assumes that the potential assailant is deterred by there being more than one person. This might be true for crimes like rape, but for robbery and assaults it is much less of a deterrent. If the attacker is armed he might decide that he is more than a match for you and your companion.
The “don’t walk alone rule” is generally only effective if you are bringing what amounts to a bodyguard, otherwise you are bringing a witness or worst case, a second victim. It might be effective against some criminal encounters, but it is an encumbrance in others.
6. Avoid dark places
This is probably not practical in the real world. Almost as many crimes (with the exception of sexual assaults) happen in broad daylight as they do at night. What we are concerned about is not seeing the problem before the problem sees us. Secluded areas can be dangerous regardless of the lighting conditions. Areas that provide good hiding places, channelize movement, or are isolated from the public make good locations for ambush.
7. Tell someone where you are going and when you will be back
There is nothing wrong with this, but I don’t see this a being useful for anything other than helping with the investigation of your disappearance. Even if the police were to be called (because you were late or didn’t arrive) they only know the end-points of your route, not the route itself.
8. The Gross-Out Defense
There are a number of variations on this theme: bad smelling liquids, soiling yourself, etc. I have even seen it once recommended that you put a finger down your throat and induce vomiting. All of this is stupid. It presupposes a lot about the attacker and his motivation for the victimization. None of these tricks do anything to improve your mobility or reduce the assailants ability to harm you.
9. Noise Makers
I see a lot mention of personal alarms, and whistles. The idea is that you will attract the attention of someone who can intervene for you, or that the assailant will leave because he is afraid of witnesses. I think these devices are wishful thinking. The time spent deploying one of these would be better spent creating distance, getting a real (or even improvised) weapon, and injuring the attacker.
10. Groin Strikes.
The groin strike has to be the most common self-defense technique since every tips list seems to cover it. The problem is that even if you strike with enough force to actually rupture something the effects of that are minutes away. Most men will have been hit in the groin a few times in their lives and are pretty good at protecting it. A groin strike can be painful, but it can also be ignored. Most men who have played sports have been hit in the groin and still finished the play.