This is something I've started to look into, but need to find what is right for me, as you'll need to find what is right for you. There are so many types or methods of martial arts and self defense that it becomes difficult to know what choice to make.
Reality based self defense programs are way better than choreographed based programs.
Self defense is a good thing to know in an emergency, or at any other time that you may need it.
Unfortunately in a major crisis and at other times of great stress, there are people that behave like animals. They'll plan, hunt and then make their attack on you and your family in order to acquire your food, water and other provisions that you have put aside.
They act as though they are entitled to your goods, and they will not care nor be sympathetic towards you if you tell them that they should have prepared.
Self defense needs to be more than being able to defend oneself against an attacker, but also has to do with prevention whenever possible, as well as home security. For one thing do not talk too much about, or in other words, advertise all of your preparations that you have made. You never know in who's ears this information will go to, and if a crisis happens, your the family that is known to have prepared and has all that food, water and other things that are useful.
In the States they have gun legislation that is much different than here in Canada. According to the U.S. Constitution, they have a right to bear arms, even though regulations may vary from one state to another.
Take the time to see what is available and sensible, and make a decision for your security needs. There is nothing good about violence, and many do not see themselves as being able to hurt anyone, even if it is in self defense, but you may have to. You have a right to defend yourself and your family when you do not have access to police protection.
Given the different interpretations that varying provinces or other may have when it comes to self defense, I'll mention a few words here below of what I have learned, and this is common sense behavior that we all need to adopt.
I am not an expert in law here, so I make no guarantees for the information provided. You'll need to find out wherever you live what the law is.
1. Avoid confrontation all costs, including to never start one.
2. Do all you can to calm the aggressor if he/she hasn't begun an attack, including to apologize for troubling them, even if you are not responsible.
3. Walk away if possible to avoid further confrontation.
If the person attacks you despite all your good efforts, you have a right to defend yourself using a reasonable amount of force. What is considered reasonable probably will vary from one place to another as well, so check your local laws if you want to know what your rights are. Another common sense thing to do is to not use overkill. If your enemy has ceased and you can escape or the enemy ran off, don't continue the fight.
Lets hope that we'll never be attacked to begin with. I wish people could get along, but unfortunately that isn't always the case.
Here are some links to help you to learn more about self defense. Do a research to see what else is available.
1. Self defense - Wikipedia