Wheelchair users are often wrongly perceived as easy targets by criminals and as such, attacks on wheelchair users are on the rise. You don’t need to live in fear just because you use a wheelchair and there are self defense techniques that you can use to protect yourself during dangerous situations.
An attacker will generally look for three things when selecting a target:
- They look for someone that they perceive as being weak and vulnerable
- They want someone that is unable to get away and escape
- They want someone that they don’t think will fight back.
A criminal will look for the three points above, irrelevant of whether they are in a wheelchair or not. The wheelchair is just an added point that reinforces the vulnerability in their minds.
A couple of examples of attacks are:
- I’m January last year John Graham of Drumchapel, Glasgow attacked his wheelchair-bound friend with a samurai sword. Graham denied attempted murder but was jailed for eight years and nine months.
- In July of last year a man in a wheelchair was attacked and robbed in Newport. What did they steal? A set of two small silver open ended spanners, Allen keys, cigarettes, and a pair of glasses.
Self Defense for Wheelchair Users
1. Using Your Wheelchair as a Weapon
If you are a wheelchair user then you are sitting on a formidable weapon. An attacker will see a wheelchair as nothing more than an obstacle and you can use that to your advantage. Some ways that you can use your wheelchair as a weapon are:
- You can thrust the wheelchair forward hitting the attackere in the shins with the footrests to bring them down. This has the added benefit of making them lean down which brings their head level with yours for further attack.
- Slam the footrest down on the instep as hard as you can. Done hard enough and you can break a bone.
- The handles of a wheelchair are usually about groin height to someone that is attacking from behind. Push your chair back as hard and fast as you can and there’s a good chance you’ll deliver a disabling blow.
2. Carry a Personal Alarm
A simple personal alarm can be attached to the arm rest of your wheelchair. They are inexpensive and with one touch will sound an alarm loud enough to draw attention to what is happening. The noise alone will usually be enough to have them running. If you live in the US, then a stun gun or pepper spray could also be carried.
3. Go for the Knees
When you sit in a wheelchair with someone stood directly in front of you, they leave their knees wide open for an attack which is a very sensitive part of the body. You want to strike their knees with your hand or any hard object you have with you. Focus on hitting “through” the knee which can cause the knee to break. They won’t be chasing you anywhere with a broken knee.
4. Go for the Groin
Using the situation above, another area that is left open for attack is the groin area. Give multiple forceful punches to the attacker in the groin.
5. Defending Against a Wrist Grab
If you use a wheelchair then you have limited use of your legs and an attacker understands this. They will try to hold your hands down to stop you resisting. If they grab your wrists keep them as close to the wheelchair armrests as possible. By doing this, you are forcing the attacker to expose his face, neck and chest area to you. If they only have hold of one wrist, you can strike the eyes, nose and throat with the other.Punch as hard as you can multiple times until the attacker is down or runs away.
6. If You Are Thrown to the Ground
The worst situation for any wheelchair user is to be separated from their wheelchair during an attack. Some attackers will deliberately tip you out of the chair which will usually happen unexpectedly from behind. As you hit the floor, roll your body over so that you are facing upwards towards the attacker. Even after pushing you onto the floor some will still continue to attack.
The good thing, and something that criminals often don’t realise is that wheelchair users are usually pretty strong in their upper body. Use your strength to strike and punch the attacker in various areas you have access to multiple times until the attacker stops fighting back.