Learning self-defense is something critical that everyone should know. You can join a class to learn self-defense, but here are a few basics you should keep in mind to protect yourself.
1. Awareness is the best and most effective method of self defense. Whenever you go out, be aware of the surroundings, the location, and the people around you. Don't get paranoid but do keep a look-out for anything out of the ordinary.
2. Here is a great way to find out if somebody is actually tailing you or it's just your imagination. Take four right turns -- that makes a circle. If somebody is still behind you when you take the fourth turn, then they are probably following you.
3. If you do get in a tight spot, it's better to shout "FIRE" instead of "HELP" as it is supposed to get a better response.
4. Attitude and self-confidence will help you against your attackers. Remember that attackers are normally cowards who pick on targets they perceive to be weaker than they are. If you are strong and fight them, chances are they will probably withdraw.
5. Finally, when you join a class, make sure that you learn from a qualified instructor. Self-defense goes beyond simple martial arts training to include a larger area of attitude and awareness. These are critical preventive measures that a qualified instructor will take you through.