I like to think I know a bit about self-defence. Not only how to do it but also the pros and cons of different strategies. I have taken a little over three years of martial arts as well as several self-defence classes and read much about the subject. Am I an expert? No, not at all, there are many people who know much more about the subject than I do. I merely know enough to discuss the issue, not pretending to be an authority.
One thing one can never go wrong on in regards to self-defence is preparation. Preventing the occurrence of an attack and not putting one self in danger. Not going down dark alleys and the like. Going places in pairs. If you walk or run a lot after dark like me take well lit routes with sidewalks and some traffic. Also being aware of your surroundings and not letting your guard down just because you are somewhere familiar like your drive way.
Then after that comes choices that are less clear. If all you do to prevent fails how will you defend yourself. If you are an American, you may say carrying a gun is a good choice and it can be but there are some risks and short comings to consider. Guns are not fool proof and can be taken away and used against you. I could do it, but that may not be a good decision. Unless you are really willing to shoot when you pull it out and have practiced it can be dangerous to you and innocent by standers. If your attacker is really close to you you could actually shoot yourself, trust me it can happen that is why you should always practice. If you shoot and fail to hit you can shoot someone else. If you are not well practiced and perfectly willing to pull the trigger it may not work either in case someone decides to call your bluff. Guns can be just as dangerous to you as to someone else if they are off your person. If you are the type of person to keep one in your house an attacker can find it and use it on you. I just heard a story of a woman who kept a gun under her pillow. She got up in the morning and got in the shower. She thought she heard a noise outside and looked out the window, saw nothing and thought nothing of it. When she got out she was greeted by a man holding her gun who then raped her.
So, the next most common choice is pepper spray which can also be a good choice, provided you know how to use it. The main draw back with pepper spray, other than that it can be taken away from you like a gun except you may have much less moral qualms about using, it is that it is impossible to use with out it contaminating the sprayer. If your attacker fights it and continues the attack are you going to be in good enough shape to fight back and maybe run? I know how it feels, I have sprayed pepper spray before under very controlled circumstances and it felt pretty lousy and I had to run out of the room. Let's not discuss why I did it, it was just curiosity.
Now, tazers are all the rage. They are used by law enforcement and are very effective at temporarily immobilizing and bringing a person down. A tazer over loads the nervous system and prevents your brain from telling your muscles what to do. It is hard to fight but a determined person can pull the hooks out and after the hooks are out you can not refire. Then you have to have a plan b. Let us not forget that a tazer just like the first two choices can be taken away and used against you.
Then there is a myriad of other weapon options which you need to practice with if you choose to use. Weather or no you choose to use a weapon you should still learn to defend yourself physicall. Your skill at weaponless self-defence cannot be taken away or used against you. I can not recommend enough going to a self-defence class. Everyone has the right to fight to defend themselves when attacked. Self-defence skills are not for beating someone in a bar brawl over a guy insulting your significant other or mother or your man/womanhood. Which is one of the reasons I will not discuss the specific techniques here because the most effective moves can kill and mame a person even when done by a child on an adult. The other reason is that they are completely useless if they are not practiced and in muscle memory. Just knowing a technique you have never practiced is no good. Go to a self defence class. Don't be scared of looking stupid. I used to but that did not stop me. I still look stupid in class most of the time but I am okay with it. If you don't know where and when and how much contact your local police through their information number, not 911. Or a martial arts school. Don't be afraid to be safe.