How to Protect Yourself and Your Family


Of all the tips within this resource, the most important is for you and your family to be aware of potential dangers in your home and aware of your immediate surroundings wherever you are. Be alert to those surroundings and trust you instincts.

You cannot protect all the people you care about in the world. Your spouse or partner in life, any children you may have, your parents and grandparents, siblings or your close friends cannot rely on your knowledge of how to prevent or deal with dangerous situations. The best you can do for those you love is to help them learn to protect themselves. Share this resource with them and practise some of the tips together.

It is important for you and your family members to learn some form of physical self-defense. It is likely that you will have to use physical self-defense at least once in your lifetime. It may be against a total stranger, or friend who has had too much to drink or to protect yourself from a friend who does not understand the meaning of "no". Learn self-defense with someone you live with or a close family member or friend.

The best summary for protecting yourself is still:

THINK about potentially dangerous situations. Imagine yourself, and/or your family, in different kinds of situations and ask yourself "What would I do if...?" Your imagination should include situations in your home, at work, using public transit, travel scenarios, and vacations away from home.

TALK about these situations with your family, friends, colleagues and neighbors. Compare and contrast solutions.

PLAN how you might react using your verbal and non-verbal skills plus any physical techniques you feel comfortable using (e.g., strong kick to the shins and then getting away). Take a self-defense program and then teach other family members or take a course together.

PRACTISE so that your mental reflexes are conditioned to respond rapidly and effectively. Your reaction time should be similar to how you would react if a child ran in front of your car.


Whenever you finish learning new information it is helpful to take a moment or two to evaluate what you have found most useful and what you would like to do with that information. This process can be very useful whether you write out the answers or just think about them.

1. What general concepts, ideas or techniques have you learned?

2. List at least three techniques from this resource that you could use immediately.

3. What other concepts, ideas or techniques do you want to learn?

4. Is there anything you have learned that you could pass on to your colleagues, family members or friends?

5. Do you have any further comments or ideas you want to record based on what you have learned?


The following references are only a few of the many useful resources that you can find in your local libraries, within your own organization, and in your local book stores. Look for further books but also for journal articles, magazine reports, films, videos and audio cassettes. Also keep in mind how much you can learn from experts in the field, including people within your own organization!

For more intensive research, read the suggestions in the Writing and Researching Reports and Papers in this series.

Biffen, Chris and Search, Gay. (1983). Strike back. Glasgow, Scotland: William Collins Sons. 176 pages with Index.
Although mostly a self-defense book there are sections on prevention, dealing with fear, and how to handle the office Romeo.

Caignon, Denise and Grove, Gail. (Eds.) (1987). Her wits about her: Self-defense success stories by women. New York: Perennial Library. 303 pages.
There is a common media and society myth that women are powerless to defend themselves from violent acts. This book contains the success stories of over 50 women from all walks of life who defended themselves using their wits, their voices and sometimes their bodies to defend themselves.

Gossage, Richard C. and Gunton, Melvin J. (1982). A parent's guide to streetproofing children. Toronto: Seal Books. 193 pages.
Extensive coverage of streetproofing children including the topics: know the neighborhood, early warning systems, people proofing your children, the alternate shelter, public transit, and peer pressure.

Griffith, Liddon R. (1978). Mugging: You can protect yourself. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. 212 pages with photos. Griffith stress the importance of preparing yourself with sections on physical interventions, rape, protecting youngsters and your home. Includes self-evaluation with questions and answers.

Haden Elgin, Suzette. (2000). The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense at Work. New York: Prentice Hall.
Examines typical office/work situations where co-workers cross the line of abuse and bullying.

Lawler, Jennifer. (2005). Self-defense Deck: 50 Powerful Strategies For Staying Safe. New York: Chronicle Books.
Practical tips on what to do in various situations summarized on 50 cards for easy reference.

Lipman, Ira A. (1981). How to protect yourself from crime. New York: Avon Books. 248 pages.
Extensive source of information self-protection at home, at work, while travelling, in the car, in the streets, while shopping, violence within the home, crime and the elderly, and much more.

Monkerud, Donald and Heiny, Mary. (1983). Self-defense for women. Dubuque, Iowa: William C. Brown Publishers. 93 pages with exercises and photos.
Basically a physical self-defense book, this book also discusses women and violence.

Sliwa, Curtis and Schwartz, Murray. (1982). Street smart: The guardian angel guide to safe living. Reading, Massachusetts: Addison- Wesley Publishing Company. 175 pages with Index and photos.
Somewhat of a militaristic approach to prevention techniques but provides information on how to avoid trouble spots; special concerns for women, children and older people; why weapons and private security does not work; and how to protect your home.

van Bommel, Harry (for Grips Self Protection Services Inc. ). (1983). DEFENDO: The total self-defense system. Toronto: Macmillan of Canada. 96 pages with photos and exercises.
Book presents 200 self-protection suggestions plus a simple to follow method of physical self-defense.

Web Sites

The extraordinary expansion of information on the internet provides learners a world-wide wealth of information. To find out what is most helpful to you, use your favorite search engine to find the most current information for your specific situation. Use key words like self-defense, street proofing, self-protection, and crime prevention. Continue changing the key words until you find the information you want. Often links within a site will bring you to information that is more suited to your specific needs.

How to Protect Yourself

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Copyright © 1989, 1993, 1999, 2006 Harry van Bommel

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