“Engage only when necessary, as a last resort” is the rule of thumb in self-defense.
Running away from an attack is the optimal option rather than engaging and defending yourself.
Getting away from an attacker is really about recognizing the moment that you can get away from the situation, and then creating distance and attracting attention.
Be aware of your surroundings at all times. It is important to remain alert to your surroundings at all times.
Recognize when a confrontational situation is imminent. Recognizing early signs can make it easier for you to know when to do something about it and to get away faster. A lot of times, people give off signs and warnings as to what they’re about to do. Awareness of these signs will greatly increase your ability to get away.
Look for such signs as:
Aggressive stances of the potential attacker and any other people standing around.
Aggressive, abusive, and unfriendly language being shouted out.
Threats being made to you and others.
The brandishing of weapons, whether obviously a weapon, or a makeshift weapon such as pieces of wood, cut glass, broken items that have been sharpened etc.
Menacing gestures and attitudes
Your inner gut feeling tells you that you’re getting into a bad situation; sense it and listen to your senses.
Exit the situation as soon as you can prior to physical contact. If you can quickly turn off down a street or double back swiftly before you even reach the aggressor, do so. You may not need to run or you may consider that running might attract undue attention at this stage; you’ll need to assess that according to the situation. Judge it swiftly and simply get out of there.
Avoid making eye contact or speaking with any aggressor. By leaving before a confrontation even ensues, you may “outrun” your attacker by deflating their opportunity and not have to run that far at all; just around the corner and out of sight.
If you’re put into the situation where you have been physically caught up with an aggressor or you’ve walked into an aggressive situation and you’re surrounded, you’ll need to find the moment when you can run away. Don’t wait to see how the situation will evolve. It is probably going to evolve in a direction that won’t be beneficial for you, so presume the worse and get running as soon as you can.
Run to escape your attacker. Run fast initially to place distance between you and the attacker. However, after an initial burst, you need to both assess the commitment of the pursuer (are they following or not?) and then to pace yourself and run without exerting yourself.
Find ways to throw off any pursuing attacker. Make noise. Try to attract attention by yelling out “Help me!” and other phrases designed to draw the attention of others to your plight. A great option is to yell, “FIRE!” People who don’t want to get involved in a personal situation may turn their backs on “HELP” but most will be curious and come to see where the fire is located. More people mean more help. Run into a crowds or a bright area.
Do not assume that your pursuers have stopped chasing you. If your pursuers are intent on catching you, they may wait for you. Call the police and make a report, even if you manage to make it home and think it’s all over with.