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Protect Your Personal Safety

You are worth defending!

Humans are the only species in the world that sometimes socialize their young to NOT defend themselves.

Many people believe that they do not have the right to upset someone or to fight physically, even if it’s to protect their own bodies from harm.

Our beliefs that we are valuable, competent, and powerful are the most important self-protection tools that we have.

You don’t need to be an athlete to have great self-protection skills!

People of all ages, sizes, and abilities have used their power to move, think, and make noise to escape attacks and get to safety.

The goal is to find and practice the skills and strategies that work for YOUR body!

Put safety FIRST.

Kidpower’s Founding Principle is that: “Our safety and wellbeing are more important than anyone’s embarrassment, inconvenience, or offense.”

The importance of putting safety first is easy to agree with, and hard to uphold in daily life.

How many times have you failed to speak up in a way that made things more dangerous for you?

Perhaps you were at a party and you didn’t leave when you noticed that things were getting out of hand? Or maybe you saw red flags in a relationship and stayed with the person anyway? Or you noticed someone following you but felt too embarrassed to go into a store or even cross the street?

Being attacked is NOT your fault.

Nothing about who you are – your age, gender, size, religion, ethnicity, race, abilities, hair color, clothing choices, nationality – NOTHING about you makes it OK for someone to make you a target of their bullying, harassment, or abuse.

The person who is at fault for causing harm is the person causing the harm. But, knowing that fact is not enough to keep you safe.

It might not seem fair that people should have to learn self-protection skills to be safe. And, learning them can be fun and empowering – in addition to helping you be safe.

Be prepared to take action, sooner rather than later.

Here are 3 core personal safety strategies that you can practice:

  • Stay aware, calm, respectful, and confident – so people will listen to you better and bother you less. This will help you to notice unsafe situations, reduce the possibility of confrontations, and avoid being a target.
  • Take charge to prevent trouble from growing. Leaving is a powerful strategy if it’s available. Pay attention to your intuition – if something seems wrong, move away from trouble toward safety. Know how to set boundaries, manage your emotional triggers, yell for help, and use physical self-defense as a last resort to escape from an attack.
  • Get help – any time you have a safety problem. For example, you can interrupt a busy cashier and ask them to call a security guard. Or, you can tell someone in a position of authority that you are being harassed. Or, you can discuss what happened with someone you trust and figure out what to do.

Learn and practice physical self-defense skills that work for YOU!

We have tips for choosing a good self-defense program. We also offer introductory self-defense online programs with a generous scholarship policy.

Stay safe from intimate partner violence and domestic violence.

Protecting sexual safety with skills to ensure consent and protect boundaries is important to support wellbeing in all intimate relationships. Most domestic violence, intimate partner violence, and other relationship assaults can be prevented or stopped through knowing and using relationship safety strategies and skills. For more information, read our article, Protecting Sexual Safety: Skills to Ensure Consent and Set Boundaries.

Personal safety skills will not solve the social causes of domestic and intimate partner violence, and they will not work all the time – but these skills can help people avoid getting into a destructive relationship, make the best of a bad situation, preserve their sense of self-worth, and keep looking for a way to get help. For more, see our article, Intimate Partner Violence and Domestic Violence.

Stay safe online and everywhere you go.

Our Kidpower Shorts Video Series for teens and adults give vivid examples and skills for both in-person and digital safety.

Here are additional resource pages with articles, videos, and workshops for protecting your emotional and physical wellbeing:

For more, visit our Mental Health resources page.

Focus on what you CAN do

Constantly thinking and worrying about big problems outside your control can make you stressed, anxious, and distracted – without making anything better.

Focus instead on small, positive steps that you have the power to take.

Even one small, positive action can help replace isolation and despair with connection and hope.


Make self-care a high priority

Most of us know that getting the rest, exercise, connection, nourishment, and care we need will make us calmer, happier, and more prepared to do our work and help others.

The problem is that making enough time for self-care can feel impossible with work, school, and family responsibilities.

It’s easy to trick ourselves into thinking that we can get by with far less self-care than we actually need.

Without investing in ourselves, we are harming ourselves.

This is why it’s essential to make nurturing ourselves a top priority in our daily lives.


Develop & choose positive beliefs

Beliefs are thoughts we have over and over until we become convinced they are true.

Some are empowering. Some are limiting. All are changeable. Just deciding to change a negative belief probably won’t work at first because it won’t feel true.

For example, going from “I hate my body” to “I love my body” doesn’t happen just because we decide we want a new belief about our body.

Instead of trying to make a big leap that doesn’t feel true, you can use a strategy to change a negative belief in smaller steps, gradually, over time.


Protect your feelings

Have you ever felt miserable because of something cruel that someone said or did to you? Has this experience made you miserable over and over again every time you remember it?

You have the power to protect your feelings so that you can stay safe emotionally.

Here’s how.


Create safe and strong relationships

Developing safe and strong relationships helps us to reduce isolation, protect our mental health, and add joy and purpose to our lives.

Even one strong connection with a caring person can help to replace despair with hope.

Times of transition often lead to the loss of ongoing close relationships. Even if you don’t have someone you can talk with on a personal level right now, brief, positive exchanges with strangers and acquaintances can brighten our whole day. A smile, a wave, or a short chat about the weather can help us to feel more connected and less alone.

Here are some ways to meet new people and improve your relationships.


Set & respect boundaries

Do you ever feel misunderstood, taken for granted, or disrespected?

By speaking up clearly, respectfully, and powerfully, for what you DO and DO NOT want, you can reduce stress, improve communication, and prevent and solve problems.

Setting boundaries can help you to protect your time, your feelings, your body, your safety, and your mental and physical wellbeing.


Support others

Have you ever seen a friend or family member struggling emotionally? Maybe they were depressed or anxious or very sad because of a loss?

Many of us really want to help, and we aren’t always sure how. We might feel that whatever we do just isn’t enough, or we’re worried about doing the wrong thing and making someone feel worse.

The simple things can make a big difference.

Helping someone in need can improve your mood, your sense of wellbeing, and your sense of connection.

Here are some ideas of how to help others while still taking care of yourself.


Recognize and ask for what you want

One of the most important keys to good mental health is being able to do things that give you joy, satisfaction, and success in your life.

In order to do this, you first have to determine your own values, goals, and priorities.

Next, you have to look at what your options are and figure out some specific next steps for taking action.

And then, you need to be prepared to advocate for yourself persistently, respectfully and powerfully.

Here are some ways to recognize and ask for what you want.


Get help

Do you hate asking for help? Do you want to solve problems yourself instead of leaning on other people? Have you had bad experiences where the help you got made things worse?

Unfortunately, many cultures view asking for help as a weakness or as being selfish.

Some families see getting professional help such as counseling or therapy as being a personal failure, and associate mental healthcare with being ‘crazy.’

Getting help when you need it takes courage and strength.

Here are some ideas for how to overcome obstacles to getting the right kind of help for YOU.