Steps moms should take to defend themselves against attackers

Stacey Sager with the story. (WABC)
April 25, 2014 3:08:25 PM PDT
Most mothers have their children's safety first and foremost on their minds, but what would they do if they encountered an agitated man terrifyingly marching toward and yelling at them?

Surveying some Upper West Side mothers this question revealed that many would not be prepared to defend themselves.

"I really don't know," said Lisa O'Connor in response to the question.

"Definitely scream as hard as my lungs will allow," admitted Lata Upadhyay.

Eventually, motherly instincts kick in. But where to kick can make a big difference in a mother's ability to strike back.

"The knee comes up first, and then the foot whips out," explains Jarrett Arthur, a self-defense expert and founder of Mothers Against Malicious Acts. "On somebody who's bigger and stronger, we want to aim for the eyes, the nose, the throat and the groin."

Although it can be a lot to remember, if you think the danger does not exist, think again.

Last September, Mary Jane Jarman was forced to fight back after she and her baby were attacked at Fort Tryon Park in Washington Heights.

"I was prepared to kill this man," Jarman said of her defense.

Then earlier this April in Chelsea, nanny Melody Cada was approached by a woman who became increasingly aggressive and attempted to abduct the baby.

"She grabbed the stroller and I started fighting and fighting and fighting," said Cada.

This raises the question ? if forced into this precarious situation, what exactly should one do?

Arthur advises that first, it's important to form a firm stance to prepare for the physicality. To protect the child, swoop the stroller away from the perpetrator. And certainly, don't underestimate the power of the voice.

When engaging in physical contact, quick and persistent palm strikes can prove effective. If all else fails, the kick to the groin is always a viable option.

In a class or on a DVD, Arthur offers a variety of methods to learn this self-defense. She also teaches courses for mothers holding their babies and those with older children when attacked.

When holding a baby, the proper stance is even more imperative.

"So that as you strike, you're turning your child away from the attacker," she said.

The class for mothers with older children prepares them for a potentially unanticipated hindrance to fighting back.

"Because if they become what I call a Velcro child, right when they get scared and cling onto you. It's going to be very difficult for you to fight back," said Arthur.

All important information to compartmentalize to keep distracted mothers as caregivers and not targets.