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Overcoming obstacles essential to women’s defense against personal attacks


Women often assume they are too small, too old, too young or not physically fit enough to protect themselves if attacked. But, according to Kathleen Mattingly, author of Self Defense: Steps to Survival, none of these prevent women from fighting back. In fact, the average 8-year-old is capable of breaking an attacker’s kneecap and women can defend themselves against much taller and heavier perpetrators.

According to Mattingly four obstacles leave women open to attacks:

  • Never having been taught - Despite a high rate of victimization in the world, a large majority of women have never been taught how to defend themselves and believe they could never protect themselves against a man or someone with a gun.
  • Lack of confidence - Mattingly emphasizes that utilizing self defense techniques doesn’t require that a person be extremely strong or have 20 plus years of martial arts training. Mattingly demonstrates easy-to-follow techniques; provides tips on becoming more aware of surroundings and teaches the use of vocalization as a deterrent in Self-Defense: Steps to Survival.
  • Overconfidence - For some women, overconfidence can be detrimental. Mattingly says that a realistic assessment of strengths and challenges is essential to self-defense. "Some have been getting by for years on a combination of bravado and naïveté and have been so confident they have never bothered to train," says Mattingly. "The truth is that none of us are impervious to violence." She adds that feeling strong and proud are good assets, but practice helps women realize their capabilites when faced with a real life situation.
  • Believing myths about violence and safety - Accepting incorrect information often leaves women open for attack. Many women have internalized false information about whom to fear, where they are at risk, what successful self-defense looks like and what works versus what doesn’t.

Mattingly’s Self Defense: Steps to Survival offers tools for defense including a variety of kicks and strikes and provides instructions on how to notice warning signs.

"Each and every one of us has been trained at some level to distrust our natural instincts," Mattingly adds. "To practice effective self-defense, we must reawaken both the ability to trust our own instincts and the willingness to act on that knowledge.

For more information, see Self Defense: Steps to Survival.


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