Even if you're always alert when out and about, the stats suggest assault still happens far too frequently. Studies also show that only a minority of cases are actually reported, and that most assaults occur within the confines of the home. So what can you do to make sure you won't become a victim of assault?

Don't make yourself a target - be street smart - IMAGE - Women's Health & Fitness


Based on information from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, one in five women (19 per cent) have experienced sexual violence and one in three women (33 per cent) have experienced physical violence, at some stage in their lives since the age of 15. However, disturbingly, research shows most women don't report assaults - especially sexual assault - due to fear, shame or the feeling that they will be blamed or not believed.

Thankfully, research also suggests a substantial portion of women who have experienced some form of assault, have in fact sought help ­- be it through family, friends, colleagues, professional or religious support services. There are a wide range of support services available for women throughout Australia; VAW (Violence Against Women), Crises Services, Legal Services as well as a variety of health services.

While these services are critical and play a vital role in our communities, why risk waiting until you need to access them? Learning some basic self-defence will give you the best chance at never needing to use these services.

So what can I do?

Generally speaking, the victims of assault are physically smaller than the attacker. Therefore, we need strategies to overcome the physical empowerment. Women have a strong advantage over males - women can multi-task where men really struggle. That is, women seem to have a natural ability to process more tasks at the same time.

It helps to have some knowledge of the basic human pressure points, and they are simpler than you think. Prime areas for self-defence are eyes, ears, nose and throat. Fingers or finger nails in any of these areas could create enough of a struggle to allow release from an attacker's grip.

Groin attacks are pretty obvious, but what is not commonly understood is that a quick blow or flick to the male genitals is sometime more painful than a solid blow. A woman defending herself by attacking the groin is probably more effective in the defence of sexual assaults - as once the genital area has been injured, the chance of rape is reduced.

The final easy pressure point is the top of the foot. As we have a series of bones in our feet that are parallel to each other, the bones rely on each other to function correctly. The cartilages between the bones are quite soft. So kicking a soccer ball doesn't hurt. But kicking the end of a stick does hurt. The lesson here is to use a pointed object on the top of the feet, like the heel or edge of your shoe. Test it on your husband or boyfriend, but be careful; it does work.

Of course, correct instruction from an accredited martial arts instructor is the best method of learning multiple techniques, but remembering these techniques will certainly give you an advantage.

It's also important to be physically and mentally prepared before a potential attack. In some cases, being vigilant could even prevent it.

The average attacker thinks like a pack animal. He will generally plan out his attack before he pounces. Then he will methodically go through his preconceived plan to complete this attack. This is where the woman's ability to multi-task kicks in. If the attacker's assault is going to be successful, it has to go to plan. The victim needs to think about what they can do to upset the plan. The further the attacker's plan goes astray, the less confidence he has.

The second thing to consider is how an attacker chooses his victim, and then what circumstances minimise or maximise the chance of attack.