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Self Defense



There have been a few threads to do with muggings and women being attacked, fear of dogs, etc and the responses have been (including mine) that these are rare events .. true, but I have recently thought, well yes, but not rare to the person it is happening to.

There are times on Camino when we may have to walk in the dark through very unsavoury areas of towns and molesters and thieves can be just a dark doorway away.

If you have the time, go to a city self-defence class - they are very effective for learning and practising street awareness and safety.

If you don't already know - in strange places and in the dark always walk in a confident manner (surveys have shown that how one walks can trigger a human predator), in narrow/quiet streets walk well away from doorways and alleyway entrances, do not walk through parks or shrubbery - never take short-cuts that isolate you from other people.

If you encounter someone you are unsure of immediately take two steps backwards, this keeps you out of arms reach .. if the person then moves towards you you are definitely in danger.

The idea is for you never to be in a close encounter with anyone, people leaning in to ask the time, directions, a light, all meant to stop you and bring you close.

Use your whiste (you are carrying a whistle?) as predators don't like noise. If neccessary use your walking pole (or a rolled up newspaper) - the thing to do is the least expected, which is to attack.
The way to use one is not to wave it or try to hit/beat with it, nor to defend with it - the method is to use the point, so hold in two hands, one on the handle and one a little further up and jab forwards with it, ideally into the face or throat. With no warning jab forward as you step forward, repeat three times in quick succession, then step back two paces - you should be able to run by now, or kick them hard in the shins and then run though a final jab hard in the solar plexus would be a very good move.

However, if even the thought of having to do this is too much (and we are talking about very rare situations) all is not lost - in France and Spain it is legal to carry 'anti-dog' self defence pepper sprays (max 5% in Spain). These spray a stream for some feet, allowing one to defend oneself without being within arms (or jaws) reach. They are truly disabling.

This company will send them to anywhere in the EU and they take Paypal - so you could have a spray waiting for you at your first refugio.

If you don't like the idea of a pepper spray there are now dye sprays that are legal in the UK. They send a jet of thick gooey bright red stuff onto the face (muzzle) and will stop someone/thing temporarily, giving you time to escape - the dye stains for some days and they also contain a UV dye that stains for longer.
These you can buy on Ebay - paste in 310156255270 to see.

Just a note: I am not advocating violence and I am not violent - but I believe that self defence, and the defence of others, is both a right and a responsibility - so don't be shy about carrying and using such protection items.
Pilgrims didn't carry those great staffs just to hold themselves up you know :wink:
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Rebekah Scott

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Re: Self Defence

The only crimes I know of on the camino are petty thefts and the occasional flasher.

I have never, in my 3+ years here on the Camino, heard of a pilgrim needing to defend himself against a violent attack from doorway-lurking strangers. Matter of fact, the only violence I´ve ever seen pilgs involved in is bar brawls -- almost always drunken pilgrim-on-pilgrim punch-ups.

It´s smart to use common sense anywhere you travel. But carrying any kind of weapon, IMHO, is counter to the spirit of the camino. Statistics show that (ETA notwithstanding) northern Spain is a very peaceful and low-crime place.
If you expect violence, it might just find you.

Leave the pepper spray at home.

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