The world is filled with threats today, particularly for women. It seems like almost every time you turn on the news, there’s another story about assault, sexual assault or robbery in which women were the targets. While it is definitely true that women bear the brunt of brutality in many instances, a few self-defense tips can help make a very real difference in your safety.

1. Enroll in a Self-Defense Class

Studies show that not only will passive resistance not help you, but it might actually increase your chances of injury. Enrolling in a self-defense class builds your confidence as well as your skills so you can handle any attacker that might come your way. It’s not just about knowing the “right moves” – it’s also about the mindset needed to prevent yourself becoming yet another statistic.

2. Be Prepared

It’s crucial that you’re prepared for threats, and that usually means not only being observant and trusting your instincts, but having the tools needed to defend yourself. You don’t necessarily need to carry a gun, either. Something as simple as a roll of quarters in your purse can make all the difference if you’re attacked. There are plenty of other non-lethal options, too, from pepper spray to Tasers, or even a personal alarm system.

3. Call for Help but Don’t Wait

Yes, you can call for help. If you’re in a crowded area, help might even come. However, don’t wait for it to arrive. Don’t pause and don’t hesitate. If you’re being attacked, defend yourself. Generally, the best option is to cause your attacker an injury. Even something seemingly minor may be enough to convince them that there’s easier pickings somewhere else.

4. Know Your Attacker’s Weak Points and Use Them

While it might be natural to worry that you’ll freeze up in an attack, knowledge of what to do can make a huge difference. It is important to remember where an attacker’s weak points are and to exploit them. Moreover, don’t worry about fighting “dirty”. There’s no such thing in this instance. Go for the genitals, hard. Go for the eyes, the nose or the ears. Target weak, soft areas that will yield maximum pain and fear in your attacker.

5. Shout

Sure, you can shout for help, but just shouting into the face of your attacker can be enough to derail their plan. Many attacks are crimes of opportunity, when a predator senses weakness. Shouting angrily or screaming into his face might just convince your attacker that you won’t be going down without a fight, and that’s probably more than he bargained for.

6. Be Aware of the Facts

While muggings might happen off the cuff, most attacks against women don’t begin with brute force. They start with a man attempting to get you into a more secluded area where there’s no access to help and you’re out of sight. Be aware of these facts and be observant. Understand that 99.9% of the people out there have no interest in hurting you, but the .01% that do will usually first attempt to remove your control over the situation.

7. Trust Your Gut

Too often, we dismiss our instincts to our detriment. Trust your gut. If you feel that a situation or individual is sketchy, get out of there. Don’t spend time second guessing yourself. If your instincts are screaming at you that something is wrong, listen to them. It’s always better to be safe than to be another unwitting victim.

With these tips and the right training, you can stay safe whether you’re out shopping or having a girls’ night out.