A pistol for self defense is a great option for many but in many places you will need a permit to carry one. Carrying concealed will likely mean more training and at the same time there are very strict rules of engagement when pulling a firearm. The burden of proof will be on you that your life was in danger and you had no other choice. For that reason, many people have turned to carrying non-lethal options for self defense. You should always check the legality of carrying each method of protection and if you will need a concealed carry permit to carry any of them in your state.
A tactical light is a compact, non-lethal option for self defense but also throws a big punch. The white light from these flashlights can blind an assailant giving you time to get away. Many tactical lights also have a sharp, jagged front edge, making them a weapon in the time of need. If possible, choose a light that can be operated by your thumb from the back of the light. This will be the most natural way to use the light.
A tactical pen is a pen but is much tougher than a normal writing instrument. This pen is a non-lethal option for self defense will leave a decent puncture wound on an assailant and while it would be better to not let an attacker get that close, if it is unavoidable, a tactical pen can be a good idea.
Pepper spray laws are different in every state. In some states, only individuals with a concealed carry license can carry pepper spray. In other states, there is a limit on the percentage of active ingredients that can be carried. Check the laws in your state before you take this route because it does have its advantages. Pepper spray is a non-lethal option for self defense meant to be used at a distance. Using it at a close distance could make you a victim as well so be careful. While it may not completely stop an assailant, it will give you the chance to get away. Move laterally and quickly, find cover, or an escape route.
Pocket knife or neck knife
The knife options available are countless. Be sure the one you choose is legal in your state or in a state where you may be traveling. A spring-assisted knife will allow you to open it with one hand, which may be your only option in a tight situation so make sure you find you can carry easily.
With all of these non-lethal options for self defense, there is one trick to know. Be able to operate and practice each one with both hands. You never know if your dominant hand will be helpful in any given situation. The same can be said for your cell phone. Practice dialing your phone with your left hand. Even if you are the point where you pull your weapon, if you can unlock and dial your phone with your left hand as easily as your right, you will be in a much better position to save yourself and others. Research several non-lethal weapons with which to protect yourself and decide what works best for you.