Should I yell FIRE!?!?

Lots of people have heard that if they are attacked they should yell “fire” to help attract attention. I don’t agree.

I suggest yelling things like:

  • “No!”
  • “Stop!”
  • “I’m being attacked — get help!”
  • “This man is bothering me!”
  • “Leave now!”

Why am I not onboard with the “yell fire” advice? First, remember that some 70% of attacks on women and teen girls are by people we know. We’re most likely to be attacked on familiar ground: our homes, the homes of our attackers, school, work, social situations, etc. So we’re generally inside. If you’re in a building and yell fire, most people will run outside, not run to the fire. So yelling fire can send help away.

Also, yelling serves many purposes. It can help attract attention, it reinforces your message, it can dissuade the attacker. For the second and third of these, it’s more helpful to be yelling something consistent with what you want.If you’re defending yourself, or trying to get away, yelling “GET OFF ME!” would be way more effective than yelling “fire!”

Before I studied self-defense, I was mugged in the daytime with lots of people around. I yelled FIRE! really loud, and nothing happened. So I also have personal experience that makes me not a fan of yelling “fire!”

Of course I’m not opposed to anything that works! (And almost anything might work sometimes.) The most important thing is to yell — and yell loudly.

Yours in resistance, Lauren