View Full Version : Most common attacks against women? Self defense class research

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10-02-2012, 10:40 AM
Hi all,

I'm wondering if anyone can refer me to statistics and info about most common attacks against women, both domestic and 'in the street' (incl. workplace, car, etc.).
I'm doing some research for my dojo's new self-defense class, and we would like some ideas about common attacks so we can work some 'reality' into the course... keep in mind that I'd prefer to cite references/stats.


Janet Rosen
10-02-2012, 01:58 PM
Sorry, no citation, but grab and hold/drag/takedown seems to be common descriptors in news reports on women walking/jogging alone...having said that the stats are clear the most common attack is within the home and by a person at least known to the woman.

Michael Hackett
10-02-2012, 06:24 PM
Rebecca, you probably won't find any verifiable statistics out there. You could contact your local police agency and see, at least anecdotally, what women in your area have suffered. I suggest you inquire with the domestic violence unit and/or crimes against people units if your agency is that defined. Good luck with your research.

Cady Goldfield
10-02-2012, 06:36 PM
Here are some Canadian stats:


10-02-2012, 07:49 PM
My thought (which more or less agrees with what Michael says) is that the most meaningful statistics would be local ones ("local", in both the geographic and demographic sense, to the population you want to serve). A young woman I know went off to college last year. She had practiced aikido pretty much her whole life, but I still pulled her coat and talked to her very frankly about date rape, which (as I see it) is the biggest danger facing her. Kotegaeshi doesn't work on roofies.

10-02-2012, 07:50 PM
Here are some references for some research we did for self defence, a lot of the data is publicly (web) available. Its Australian stats, but may translate


The tendency of acts to happen among friends/relatives and in the home environment was a real surprise at the time and suits well an aiki approach in building awareness of warning signs, as well as adjusting our focus from the conventional self defence wisdom of 'random stranger on the street' (not that this isn't important too)


PS Out of intrest, is your self defence just focused on women?

Cady Goldfield
10-02-2012, 08:13 PM
The Canadian stats I posted are from a survey of more than 600,000 women. That is a substantial study worth paying attention to. The first set of statistics offered on that site pertain to specific kinds of violent attacks, which I think is relevant to what the original poster was asking.

10-02-2012, 08:14 PM
Womens centers and shelters might also be a good place to check out. You would likely be limited to only getting responses from staff as detailing that kind of trauma might be too much for the women taking shelter there. Not sure if any hotline exists for this but if so that might too be a valuable resource.

L. Camejo
10-03-2012, 12:50 PM
Hi all,

I'm wondering if anyone can refer me to statistics and info about most common attacks against women, both domestic and 'in the street' (incl. workplace, car, etc.).
I'm doing some research for my dojo's new self-defense class, and we would like some ideas about common attacks so we can work some 'reality' into the course... keep in mind that I'd prefer to cite references/stats.

Hi Rebecca,

I think the best place to get good stats are, as others have mentioned, local personal safety organizations (NPOs), domestic violence / rape crisis and response centres and the local police or even the RCMP.

One of the better resources on the issue of crimes against women in canada is the Canadian Women's Foundation - http://www.canadianwomen.org/facts-about-violence

Statistics Canada also has some good info here - http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-570-x/85-570-x2006001-eng.pdf

I also run a very successful Women's Personal Safety program in the GTA in Ontario. We have a a lot of free resources available online that you are welcome to. This information helped me when I was developing our program as well. If you're interested check out www.wepn.ca and click on the Documents section.

Besides thinking about common attacks you may want to do some research on the victim selection process typically used by predators. This gives a lot of insight into the typical attack scenarios since there is a progression from victim selection to engagement to type of attack.

If you want any more details on how we developed the program please PM me.


Michael Hackett
10-03-2012, 02:42 PM
The reason I mentioned earlier that the available statistics probably won't be available or verifiable is that those doing the research usually are looking at more global issues such as the relationship of the victim and attacker and not the specifics of the actual attack. If Rebecca is looking to develop curriculum to address what attacks are frequently encountered, I think most information will be anecdotal as I mentioned. The police agencies will generally know the mechanism of injury in each case, even if the victim refuses to cooperate in the investigation - and that happens all too often.

My experience in investigating these events over the years suggests the following attacks were most common:

In domestic violence the victim was usually punched in the face or torso with a closed fist, often unexpectedly. Hard, open-handed slaps to the face were common as well.

In street crimes such as purse snatchings, the attacker would try to strip the purse away from the victim. If she maintained her grasp, she would often be met with a punch to the face.

With sexual assaults, a violent blitz attack would often take place. In some cases the attacker would hold both of the victim's arms to either pull or push her to a better location for the attack. In others, an attack from behind with a choke hold was fairly common.

If the attacker was armed, it was usually enough to display the knife or gun to force cooperation.

Even this limited description of force used rarely turns up in crime statistics, but is contained in the narrative portion of police reports and based on victim's accounts and the physical evidence of injuries and bruising and the like.

I hope your program is a success!

10-03-2012, 06:47 PM
Wow, thanks so much everyone for your responses!
I had thought about local shelters and police as resources and will follow up with them soon...

Daniel, my sensei is meaning for this class to be focused on women this time, but as long as the women in the course are not uncomfortable with men due to past experiences, we can be flexible about men attending too. After all, the instructor is male... :)

I'll post here to let everyone know how my research is going. Thanks again to everyone for your help.
Kind regards,

Mary Eastland
10-04-2012, 07:10 AM
Hi Renecca:
Another thing you do is ask women...most women have a least one story....

10-04-2012, 02:18 PM
Hi Rebecca, I instruct a women only aikido class and starting a womens only self defence class tomorrow, I spoke to a friend who is a police woman, surprisingly she told me the most common attack on women was a punch to the face and then dragged to the floor (i was expecting her to say attacked from behind), she didn't give me any statistics but hope this is maybe of some help
Sam x

10-05-2012, 09:30 AM
thank you Mary~ I have been and will continue to ask women about their experiences in our community...

Sam, that's good to know. I wouldn't have guessed a straight punch either. We'll have to start with stepping off the line of attack, and practicing NOT freezing.

Thanks again,

pastor michael wolfe
10-06-2012, 11:00 AM
In response to some of your questions, I would highly recommend the book "No, No, No: Defend Yourself" by Matt Thomas and Denise Loveday. This book is the text book for a course on self defense for women. I would also recommend the book "The Gift of Fear" written by a counselor who has worked for years with people who have been assaulted. Both books provide great information on assaults. Hope this is helpful. Pastor Michael Wolfe, Greenville South Carolina, San-Dan

Dan Rubin
10-06-2012, 03:24 PM

I assume that your dojo's self-defense class is still in the planning stage (or are you looking to add reality to an ongoing class?). As suggested by the responses you've already received here, you might consider the importance of defining the course more specifically.

Do you want to offer a class in self-defense, which should include things such as staying out of bad neighborhoods, walking with good posture and awareness, being assertive when you're accosted on the street, and how to avoid getting involved with abusive men? Or do you want a class in how aikido techniques can be used against physical attacks that are typically used in present-day assaults on women? The latter is only a part of self-defense, but a part that an aikido instructor may be qualified to teach.


Linda Eskin
10-18-2012, 01:56 PM
I found this article very interesting: http://www.nij.gov/topics/crime/rape-sexual-violence/campus/decrease-risk.htm

Certain Self-Defense Actions Can Decrease Risk
"In a 2005 report commissioned by NIJ, researchers examined a variety of sexual assaults and other physical assaults against women. The study did not focus specifically on college students. The researchers found that potential rape victims who resisted their attackers physically and verbally significantly reduced the probability that a rape would be completed and did not significantly increase the risk of serious injury.

Most self-protective actions significantly reduce the risk that a rape will be completed. In particular, certain actions reduce the risk of rape more than 80 percent compared to nonresistance. The most effective actions, according to victims, are attacking or struggling against their attacker, running away, and verbally warning the attacker.

In assaults against women, most self-protective tactics reduced the risk of injury compared to nonresistance. According to the researchers, the only self-protective tactics that appear to increase the risk of injury significantly were those that are ambiguous and not forceful. These included stalling, cooperating and screaming from pain or fear...."

Krystal Locke
10-20-2012, 10:46 AM
Ya know what makes me mad? Women who scoff at self-defense training because they think that fighting back will only make their attacker mad.

I mean, sheesh, the person is ATTACKING you! They are already mad, in either sense of the word. They are looking to harm, rape or kill you. Is making them a little more angry going to be a bad thing, a good thing, or just a thing? Will resisting rape pull your potential rapist more off-center and out of balance? Will a little more anger on the attacker's part make you any deader?

I think the whole "dont make him mad" thing is a recognition that most folks are attacked by people they have some sort of relationship with, and they have some measure of concern for the attacker. It is also an expression of our own gender training. Feh.

Wouldn't it be better to have a range of potential trained and generally effective responses, along with the intellectual and emotional awareness that allows us to maintain center and select appropriate responses? Why pay for the weekend and put the person in the rubber suit through all that if we aren't going to let ourselves respond appropriately to an attack for fear of hurting a murderer's feelings?

Marc Abrams
10-20-2012, 02:26 PM
I taught a three day SELF-PROTECTION course to women in Durango, Colorado this past summer. Everything to date leads me to say that learning to protect yourself is the better bang for your buck. A course should focus on a continuum from preparation, awareness, protection actions (based upon defined parameters) to self-defense when all else fails.

Marc Abrams

10-21-2012, 11:34 PM
We just finished another 'aiki defense for women' class in a mid-sized college town. Age rage was 14 to 55. Based on discussions with local law enforcement, personal experience investigating these incidents and stories from the class we did the following:
First, assume your attacker will not respond to pain. Use techniques which involve large muscle groups and large movements to ESCAPE. Don't waste time. We applied a fairly small number of techniques to a large number of attack types and repeated them over a 4 hour workshop. Wrist grabs, 'bear hug,' front choke, rear choke, wall-pin choke, pony tail grab, rear knife to the throat and finally 'ground pin.' We emphasized that confidence,awareness, bearing and demeanor prevent most attacks. Techniques were performed with multiple body types and increased in intensity to the point where the student experiences initial 'failure' and had to fight through that to escape. We also taught 'low level' defense for incidents which commonly occur on bar dance floor and similar settings. These 'low level' attacks included the front chest grope and the wrap around the waste grope. Techniques were simplified as needed. We were very clear that when someone puts hands on you or confronts you there is nothing you are going to do to make it worse. The violent criminal is going to be as violent as he wants to be. We discussed that you should NEVER let the attacker remove you from the area "just come with me and you won't get hurt' is a lie intended to make greater violence easier to do. We discussed the fear responses of the body and how to work through them. Umm...and more. Feel free to drop me a note if you want the lesson plan. Don't have video ... yet :(