There is a lot of advice out there about whether or not you should try to keep your purse or wallet from being taken by an attacker. Preventive measures are crucial, of course, for avoiding this scenario, but what happens if you are face to face with someone demanding your money? Should you just hand it over?
This can be a much more complex issue than it seems at first. While most would agree that their lives are worth more than the few dollars in their wallet, there are other factors in play. What if the attacker has a knife or gun? What if you think they're after more than your purse? What if you think they're not really serious at all?
If someone just walks up to you and says "give me your money," do you take the threat seriously? You might want to evaluate what is going on before making your move. For example, if the person demanding your wallet is young and weak, and you are armed with a stun gun or pepper spray canister, perhaps you need not give up your belongings. On the other hand, if the attacker looks big, strong, and serious, you'd probably be safer complying with his orders, whether or not he is armed or you are carrying a self defense device. Regardless, you need to consider the scenario before determining the best course of action.
In most cases, those who demand passerby to hand over their wallet, or try to pickpocket you, are criminals looking to get cash quickly and without a hassle. If this happens in a crowd, perhaps your best course of action is to start yelling or use a personal alarm in order to attract attention to the situation. In the majority of these cases, the attacker will simply run away from the area. On the other hand, if you see a weapon, just hand over your money. It is not worth risking your life to keep it, even if the attacker has no plans to use the weapon against you.
Another option that has been recommended is tossing your wallet or purse in one direction as you run in the other. This has also been recommended for your car keys in the case of a carjacking, so that you don't get caught in your vehicle with the carjacker. With this method, you are sure to get away, though you'll have to give the assailant what they want in order to guarantee your personal safety. Create distance between yourself, your purse, and your attacker as quickly as possible.
Often, people will consider keeping a second "dummy" wallet or a stash of cash in a separate pocket, so that if an attacker demands your money, you can hand this over rather than your real belongings. While this might seem like an unnecessary step, it can actually be a wise decision if you know you'll be walking around a relatively dangerous area. Of course, if this is the case there are even more effective defense steps you should be taking, such as carrying a keychain canister of pepper spray and a personal alarm.