Introduction to Self Defense

At the end of this module, you should be able to:

Define self-defense
List the goals of self-defense

What is Self-Defense

According to Oxford Dictionary, self-defense is the defense of one's person or interests, especially through the use of physical force. Self-defense can also be defined as the right of a person to stop or prevent harm, injury, violence or force through the use of necessary level of force or violence.
From the above definitions, the following are present before the need for self defense: attempted violence, on going violence/ harm and or threat.

Self Defense - What it is not

Use of force when the threat has ended; any use of force by a survivor after a perpetrator has ended the assault and there is no longer any threat of violence will be seen as retaliation.
Returning to attack a perpetrator after rescuing an incapacitated person from assault.
Use of force out of sincere fear of possible physical harm that is objectively unreasonable.
For example, a woman breaks a bottle on a man because she thought he was bringing a knife out of his pocket, not knowing it was a handkerchief will be guilty of assault although the penalty may be lessened.

Goal of Self Defense

When faced with imminent danger, it is likely emotions such as fear and anger will be heightened in the survivor. Focusing on the goal of self-defense will help in achieving safety without committing a crime.
Regardless of the situation, the goals of self-defense are to
- Stay alive
- Halt the violent act
- Escape without injury or with minimal injury
A survivor does not need to use physical force to win in a fight or to injure another person. Actually, the best form of self-defense is to avoid unsafe places and dangerous people altogether.


Your Number one self defense goal is to avoid danger all together.
No matter how fearful or angry you are, remember the goals of self defense and stay focused on them. This will ensure your safety, minimize injury and protect you from criminal charges.

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