As a romantic suspense author, I spend a lot of time writing about ladies in peril. And by that token, I have to get them back out of it. So I'm going to use one day a week to talk about self defense and protecting yourself in various ways.
One way of thinking about assault is to divide it into two groups: people we know, and strangers. I think by this point everybody is pretty familiar with the fact that in the majority of cases, people are sexually assaulted by people they already know. Other crimes, like mugging, tend to be inflicted upon unfortunate strangers at the wrong place in the wrong time. Today we're talking about what to do when strangers attempt to assault you, for whatever reasons they might have.
The thing to keep in mind is to make it difficult. Your average scumbag who wants to attack you for whatever reason is not the best and brightest that society has to offer. It's someone who's likely lazy and almost certainly has very little forethought, and they're looking for an easy target. If they've telegraphed their intentions (unfortunately, in many cases the fight is over before the victim was even aware of a threat), that's a gift of time you can use.
In some cases, simply screaming and running away will be enough to make the criminal leave you alone. But look around for ways to make things even more difficult. If there's a hill, run up the hill. If there's a creek, run through the creek. If there's lights, run toward them (though I doubt I have to tell you that).
The harder you make a criminal work to catch you, the less interested they're going to be. There's a reason most muggings don't occur in broad daylight in the middle of police stations. The kind of people that are going to try to mug you or assault you don't want a fight, they want an easy victim. If you make it so they have to work to attack you, they may decide it's not worth the effort.