Women Educating in Self-Defense Training 

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Reduce the Risk (guide)

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What Can Women Do?



Table of Contents

·      Canadian Law

·      Verbal Self-defense

·      Use Surprise

·      Who Attacks?

·      What Causes Attacks

·      Worries about Paranoia

·      What You CAN Do

·      What about Physical Techniques

·      Who gets hurt?

·        Best Self-defense Strategy


Yes! You Can Defend Yourself!

Section 34 of the Canadian Criminal Code states that you can use any reasonable force to defend yourself against attack. That has been defined by precedents in the law courts to mean that whatever actions you use that you think are necessary at the time of the attack, and which are intended to allow you to get away are considered "reasonable force".


YES! Be Assertive. If you mean No, say No. Do not be surprised or confused if the creep doesn't seem to accept what you say. He may believe that when a woman says "no", she really means "yes", or he might believe that it means "maybe" or "wait awhile". Or he may not want to hear you. You may need to say NO louder or in other ways to get his attention.

However, if he doesn't leave you alone, then you may have to do more. You may need to remove yourself or use physical resistance to stop him.


You can be surprised, but that doesn't mean that you have lost. Most attacks go on for more than half an hour. If you are prepared to change with the situation, you may turn the tables and surprise him.

No matter how much he may know about attacking, he does not know what you can or will do. Your attacker cannot read your mind. He does not expect you to fight back effectively. He may expect you to cry, cringe, plead, or to scream and struggle. Attackers tend to pick on smaller and weaker people and believe that no woman is a match for them. In a fair fight, he may be right.

An assault is not fair. When you use self-defense effectively, by kicking him in the knee to dislocate the joint or some other physical technique, he will be the one who is surprised and incapacitated. Then, you escape.


The majority of attackers are larger and stronger than the attackee. Your attacker will probably be male, but there is a possibility that they may be female. In more than three quarters of all attacks on women, the attacker is known to her. The most common place for an attack to happen is in a home - yours, his, or someone else's. The next most common place is in a motor vehicle. Lights and people inhibit the attacker, but attacks still happen in well lit areas and/or with people around.


Your attacker's thoughts and emotions are the largest factor in an attack. He has a need to dominate and control you. The majority of assaults on women and children are planned well in advance.

Despite the mistaken idea that some women "ask" to be attacked, you cannot make someone attack you unless THEY decide to become aggressive or abusive.

What you wear, say, do, or where you are located has little to do with the attack, although it may offer an opportunity at the time or be used as an excuse later.

The attacker attacks because they want to and think that they will get away with it.


When you are uncomfortable in some situations or with some people, You Are Normal! In fact, the odds are that if you are nervous, there is an external reason for it even if you cannot identify it immediately.

We all read news items, see reports on TV and watch movies made about terrible incidents involving women and children. Your awareness of them may trigger nervousness in similar situations.

While some attacks are sudden and straightforward, many begin with gestures or behaviour that are calculated to test you, put you off guard, or to coerce you. He may be saying one thing and doing another. Pay attention to his behaviour as well as his words His previous good behaviour is not a guarantee that he won't attack you.

Your intuition or hunches are triggered by a heightened awareness of body language from the person with whom you are uncomfortable.

The safest thing that you can do is act on those hunches when they occur and extract yourself from that situation. It is easier to analyze a problem when you are not in the middle of it.


Wenlido offers practical techniques to deal with verbal, physical and sexual assaults - in public, at social gatherings, at work, and at home.

Wenlido includes mental and physical exercise, breathing and meditation, in addition to releases and counter-attacks to physical aggression. Discussions on Awareness, Avoidance, Assertiveness, Sexual Assault, Women & Law, Battering, Aggression, and Verbal Defense are vital parts of the course.

The length of the Basic course makes it readily available to most women and children. With practise, these are useful for protection against aggression.

An advantage of this self-defense course is the emphasis on the socialization, conditioning and needs of women and children. It is taught by women and is open to all ages.


Some people express the opinion that women shouldn't try to defend themselves. We believe that is a choice each woman needs to make for herself.

Defending yourself starts with the same determination that most mothers feel in protecting their children. If someone told you that you shouldn't defend your three year old child, what would you think?

If we are willing to try and protect our children we can try and protect ourselves. Determination to succeed is a key factor in the decision to resist an attack. Thousands of women have defended themselves successfully. Most without ever taking a self-defense class.

Only you can make the decision to fight back or not. Even the choice of remaining passive is personally yours. You will decide what it best for you at that time.

A little knowledge is only dangerous when you think that it is a lot.

Anything that you learn can expand your horizons and increase your survival potential.

Studying self-defense gives you more options in avoiding or escaping an attack. You can maximize the possible strategies that you could choose to use.


Not fighting back may be even more dangerous. 62% of sexual assault victims are injured in other ways during the assault.

Your chances of getting away dramatically increase the more active your strategies are. Verbal self defense is a good start. Even screaming and flailing your arms is more effective than cringing and pleading. Attempting to break his collarbone or punch him in the throat can increase your escape potential. The more strategies you use, the better.

Responding sooner improves your chances of escape. However whatever you choose to do, pick techniques that you are willing to follow through with. Deciding not to physically resist is an option. Only you can determine what is right for you at the time.


We believe that the best strategy is to get away as soon as possible. It is very difficult to hurt you if you are not there. Studying self-defense gives you more options in avoiding or escaping an attack.

In twelve hours of training you will not become an "expert". You WILL discover your strengths and how to use them, as well as how to make informed decisions when you are threatened.

The mental aspects of self-defense are as important as the physical ones. In addition to physical techniques, each woman builds a feeling of self-determination and a belief in her own abilities to defend herself.

Many women have stated that the Wenlido program taught by W.E.S.T. has enabled them to be more active and self-confident. Instead of just being afraid of attacks, they are becoming aware of danger and ways of responding to it through their own discovered self-power.

You Are equipped to help yourself.

You CAN be effective.

You can SURVIVE.

Take a GOOD self-defense course and practise it well!






* 51% of Canadian women have experienced at least one incident of violence since the age of 16.?(Statistics Canada, 1993)

* 1 in 10 woman have experienced violence in the past twelve months. 27% of these women are under the age of 25.?(Statistics Canada, 1993)

* 78% of assaults on women are by a male who is known to her.?(Statistics Canada, 1993)

* 25% of all women have experienced violence at the hands of a current or past marital partner.?(Statistics Canada, 1993)

* Children who see abuse in the home have a level of adjustment problems comparable to that of children who are physically abused themselves.?(D. Wolfe et al, Journal of Clinical & Consulting Psychology, 1985)

* 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 10 boys are sexually assaulted before the age of 18.?(United Way Study, Vancouver, 1984)

* Victims of sexual assault are physically hurt in at least 60% of cases.?(Ministry of the Solicitor General of Canada, 1985)

* 90% of women report receiving unwanted sexual attention on the job.?(Canadian Union of Public Employees, 1980)


No matter what the statistics are, if YOU are being harassed or assaulted,

it will be 100%!

These crimes occur daily. There is no particular age that is safe. Small babies all the way through to women over 90 years of age have been assaulted. These attacks are all abuses of power, where the attacker (most probably male) uses the act of violence to dominate and demonstrate power over the attackee. Violence is used to show women that we do not have the right to say "NO" or to control our own bodies, sexuality, or actions.


You are fully supported by Canadian law and have every right to defend yourself. No one has the legal or moral right to attack you.



Phone: (604) 876-6390




Table of Contents


·      WHAT CAN WE DO?











There are so many misleading myths about women, violence and self-defense, where shall I start? How about with the incredibly mistaken idea that one will be able to pick out an attacker by where they are, their appearance, their gender, and what they do for a living. Following from this, of course, is the myth that if these alleged "clues" didn't tip you off, then you will have (obviously) done something wrong and therefore the attack must be your own fault!


It's not true that going out after dark is one of the most dangerous things women can do. Three quarters of assaults occur homes - yours, the attacker's, or someone else's. The very place where we are supposed to feel safe. The next most common place is in a car - often after an offer for a ride "so that you don't have to wait for the bus in the dark". Then we come to public buildings - where you work, shop, or go for recreation. Everywhere else, including the "dark" is the location less than one tenth of the time!


The incipient attacker will look horrifying, right? Three days growth of beard, scruffy, has a weird look about him, isn't that what we've all been led to believe? Assaults come from a wide range of people. The attacker is just as likely to be clean, well dressed, and looking like a normal member of our society. They do not look like a "stranger". If fact, in up to eighty five percent of the cases, they will be someone you know well enough to identify clearly - someone you work with, a neighbour, a date, your best friend's friend, or a member of your family.


We have been taught that "superior" roles such as, doctor, police, religious workers, etc. won't be attackers while persons who are labourers, motorcyclists, plumbers, etc. are likely to be. In other words, the higher the social status, the safer they supposedly are. Actually, assault crosses all socio-economic lines. We see people from these high status roles being charged with horrendous counts of child abuse and assault. Teachers, social workers, truck drivers, and in fact any occupation you can think of has a person in it that is guilty of assault. In Canada there are 26,000 job classifications and not one of them is a guarantee that the person who holds it will not be violent.



Isn't the attacker always going to be an adult male or is that sexist? While males are the majority of attackers, no matter who is the recipient of the attack, there is another possibility. Would you be surprised if a woman assaulted you? In a small number of cases, the attacker is a woman, so be aware of the possibility. Also, groups of pre adults (males and females) are showing a higher profile in assaulting situations, up to around 10%, and usually against other young people.


When we believe any or all of those or other myths, we then have something to cling to and even feel superior about - at least until we were assaulted. That is the problem with statistics. You can only talk about what has happened in the past and what might happen in the future. When something happens to You, it is Now and 100%. What do we do?


How the other person behaves is really the only reliable indicator of them as being an attacker. Assaultive Behaviour doesn't usually start with physical violent. Instead, Abuse often begins with verbal attacks and builds along the Assault continuum until it becomes physical. This Assaultive Behaviour starts with control and may include any of but is not limited to the following:


Coercion - "You gotta do this to help me."

Anger or Jealously - "You can't talk to other men."

Put Downs - "You're stupid. You're incompetent."

Insults - "You're a bitch, a cunt, a whore."

Demeaning Demands - "I took you out, so you owe me sex."

Misuse of Authority - "I know what is best for you."

Isolation - controlling what you do, who you see and where you go. "You can't."

Emotional Threats - "I'll take your children. I'll say that you are bad."

Threats of Violence - "You'll do what I say or else I'll kill you."

and other verbal intimidation tactics.



Looking disapproving at any action or opinions of yours.

Looming over and moving in close to you. Blocking your way.

Raising fists or making violent gestures towards you.

Hitting or smashing objects, particularly yours, to "prove a point".

Fondling or pointing knives, firearms, or other weapons at you or your children.


Touching you without your permission.

Grabbing, slapping, pushing.

Sexual assault, forced sexual actions.

Blows intended to hurt but not to leave bruises.

Hitting, choking, kicking, biting, severe battering.

Violence with the intent to maim or kill.



What if they haven't Done anything yet, but you don't feel right? You are hearing your intuition (gut feelings, hunches) and I WANT YOU TO LISTEN AND RESPOND to this feeling. Unless you are nervous all of the time, about everything in your life, you will find these feelings a valuable early warning device. For the majority of people and situations they are a reliable indicator that something is about to happen.



When you get that "feeling", it's time to change the script in some active way - be more clearly assertive, leave, yell, do something! Assess what effect your actions have and then adjust accordingly. If you cannot get away, you may need to be physical to avoid being damaged. Two thirds of attacks on women include physical trauma other than or in addition to sexual assault.

Other thoughts by other women:


"Try and fight him ... it's more natural to be angry, if you let yourself feel the anger, maybe that'll give you strength ... I used to think you could give him some kind of Jesus rap ... I used to think you could reason 'em out of it, and talk to them like a human being, say "OK you don't want to do this, what are you doing?" ... He seemed to listen to anger, yelling."


(Stopping Rape: Effective Avoidance Strategies; Bart, O'Brien, 1984)


The following are only a few of the negative attitudes and prejudices that we face on a daily basis.

"She must be mistaken, he's such a nice person." Appearing nice some of the time doesn't mean that people are nice all of the time. We have seen this over and over again as people with greater physical strength or in positions of authority abuse that position and the people that they consider beneath them. There are many examples where people in positions of power and trust have misused those they are supposed to protect and help.

"Look at how she's dressed." If a female looks like any part of the fashion image that our society bombards us with as being "feminine", then she is considered provocative. If she doesn't act or look this way then she's not "proper". This attitude sets us up to be wrong no matter what we do.

"Never go out after dark." The realities of living in our society with the need to work and interact means that it may be impossible to meet this and other negative, inappropriate, and ineffective criteria that is supposed to keep us safe - and doesn't. For everything that a woman might do there is a corresponding "don't". If you want to know what you are doing wrong ... ask anyone, they'll be happy to tell you. You need to decide for yourself what you want to do. It's Your Choice!

"She shouldn't have been there." Since this is likely to be our own homes, travelling to and from work, or at work and school, this facile comment ignores the fact that women are active, productive society members who have the moral and legal right to be where they are without fear of violence.

"She was asking for it." A perfect

excuse for the assaulter! This idea persists, despite the facts that attacks are planned well in advance and caused by what the attacker thinks. You cannot make anyone attack you unless they want to. Males really are capable of restraining themselves.

"Why doesn't she leave?" There are many reasons - emotional and financial dependency in a relationship or a job, the attacker promises that it will never happen again, pressure from her family to make it work, disruption for her children, no place to go, and more.

"No one can do anything to you that you don't want them to do." Try passing that line on the civilian survivors of Hiroshima or Dresden or any other victims of war. Attacks are not an agreement to interact, they are assault, where one person forces their will on another. And they are illegal.


"Blame The Victim" is a common tactic that attempts to control and censure women. It is ludicrous to imagine that woman are so powerful that we control the actions of others and that they have no volition of their own. It also reinforces the mistaken belief that men and others assaulters are not responsible for their behaviour and actions and shouldn't be held accountable for what they do. This is demeaning to everyone and deserves to be challenged whenever it surfaces.

As long as we don't fight back against Blame The Victim, we have a long way to go to ensure our own safety. Canadian law clearly states that no one has the right to harm any other person. However, this is ignored by attitudes that imply that anything that happens to you must be caused by you. If we are supposedly so good at controlling the world around us, why are women generally attacked by those they know and the majority of women who die from violence are killed by their life-partner? The reality is that each person is responsible for their own actions and you cannot make another person do something that thy don't want to do without physical force.

Strengthen yourself with knowledge and training. Be active in defining who you are and what you do. Stand firm or others may try to overwhelm you with guilt for the "crime" of having a life.

by Alice Macpherson,?Senior Instructor, Gold Rank, Wenlido


Phone: (604) 876-6390

Email: [email protected]



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