Reminds me of an experience my friend and I had when we were about 15 and walking home from school. We started to turn down a street that we walked down every single day. For no reason that we could explain, we both got "creepy feeling" about going down the street. Definitely a gut reaction. We turned around and walked a different way. Later we heard that another girl had been raped in that area that same afternoon.
This is a perfect example of what to do when your intuition gives you a nudge. You just go a different way. Anyone can do that -- no training required. All you have to do is act when that little voice says, "Something's wrong."
Notice that the commenter was about 15 when this happened. Clearly you don't have to be grown to understand avoiding places that give you "the creeps." You only have to do two things:
Probably these two young women saw something out of the ordinary, and their intuition kicked in before they even knew they saw it. But it doesn't really matter what they saw; the point is that they acted on their intuition. In this case, later facts proved them right -- something was wrong and they protected themselves.
- Listen to your instinctive reaction, instead of dismissing it.
- Go a different way.
One more observation about changing your plans or directions: Try to know as much as you can about the neighborhood you travel through, so that you can easily take another way if necessary. This not only helps you when you get that "creepy feeling," but it's also a valuable resource when the subway breaks down, a bad wreck blocks the highway, or a special event closes your usual route.
Being flexible -- like the other skills of self defense -- is useful for more than just keeping yourself safe.