The majority of our SAFE International clients are women. One of the questions I often get is, "If an attacker tells me NOT to yell or they will kill me, should I yell?" As always, I can't give any definite answers, but I will ask people to consider the following:
- why do they not want you to yell? One of the things attackers do not want is to get caught and yelling attracts attention. You may be apprehended at a public location and yelling is often the first and most important strategy. If taken to a secondary location, the odds of anyone hearing you are drastically reduced. But again there is no guarantee any strategy will work everytime. My recommendation is that if you decide to yell, make sure you yell with conviction to really attract attention. Even putting in the mind of the attacker that attention may be drawn, may be enough for them to leave you alone.
Now, if there is no one around and you yell, it may cause them to strike you faster in hopes of shutting you up. The following video is a social study that was done of a woman who is being assaulted by a man. They wanted to see how many people would intervene to help her or how many might just ignore the situation. It may be surprising to you, but most people who can see and hear that there is obviously an assault taking place, just keep going on without offering any assistance. Some just do not want to get involved, while others may be considering the options. They either decide to intervene or just keep walking on. Many I am sure will come up with a justification in their mind why they would not help, but most likely fear being harmed themselves. So, while I am saying yelling in public may save you, again there is no guarantee. But if one decides to, and is able to yell, then YELL!
- also many ask, but if they threaten to kill me if I yell, should I not do what they say? Why would you believe them when they say they will kill you? How trustworthy have they shown themselves to be so far? The majority of the time they intend to take you to a secondary location to do their worst, so dealing with the threat at the first location is in your best interest.
- often they may promise to let you go if you do what they say, but a promise is no guarantee. People often tell me that if the attacker promises, they believe them thinking that no one could use the word promise and not mean it. Identify the word "promise" as a warning sign that much worse may be coming.
Every attack situation is different and unique. Only you can decide what you feel is the best approach to take, but the vast majority of the time, in my opinion, you should yell. I would encourage everyone to take a self defense course and put themselves in training situations in which they can practice yelling. Many think they would naturally yell when in danger, but many freeze due to the stress of the situation. Or some will just yell and do nothing else. You want to combine yelling with striking if you find yourself having to use physical strategies in order to escape.
I once taught a student self defense who was with a friend in a parking lot when they were suddenly held up at knife point. The young woman began yelling and almost instantaneously the attacker ran away. Later the police indicated that this was the reason he exited the confrontation quickly. Later that day he was caught as he was trying to force a woman and her infant into the back of their car.
SAFE International Self Defense