Monday, November 12, 2012

to my ladieeees! a little girl talk

FYI - Written this past Saturday, November 10, around noon:

I just returned from a Women's Self-Defense Class sponsored and conducted by my local police department. It was a small affair, but it was really good, and I'm not just talking about the free bananas and bagels. For all the ladies out there, I would highly recommend trying to check out any such programs in your nearby area.

We were first given a little background information, and I'm not sure how many women know this statistic, but according to the Justic Department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated annual count of 1.9 million women are physically assaulted. 15-25% women nationwide report sexual assault. That's up to a one in four chance of a female you know having a history of rape, and that's only by what's been reported! A lot of rapes go unreported, at least 80% according to the Kilpatrick quote in this L.A. Times article on rape statistics.

Ironically, it's not a pretty picture for women, the numbers game. Wikipedia has a smattering of statistics regarding rape in the U.S., and RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) highlights a few of the big ones, including the one about "97% of rapists will never spend a day in jail."

A slightly personal note:

Now, I know this is heavy stuff, but it's just so relevant and important for women to know. Not to freak out about, but to be aware, to be strong and to be prepared both in mind and body.

There are definitely moments in my life where I've felt threatened or uncomfortable by males. To be honest, I'm a total girl's girl, I love female companionship and adore how much more sensible we all seem - hahaha - and maybe that's just a part of the culture and people I've grown up with. But fact is that in my life, I don't really befriend men all that much, and I don't naturally feel safe around them (which is a little horrible, but let's be honest - general male behavior is not reassuring ;).

Maybe it's this inclination that has led me to feeling so easily endangered around men, which then makes me feel like a total wuss. It's taken a few years to come to terms with and voice this admission, but with it has been the growing desire and eagerness to learn self defense. Luckily, I've only lightly encountered the sketchies thus far, and nothing has ever really happened to me, but I was more than ready to attend this free defense class after missing out on the ones they offered in college.

The two female officers who taught the three-hour class I attended used material from the Rape Agresssion Defense (R.A.D.) System, a program they get certified in annually. After the brief presentation, we got into learning and practicing the various defensive and offensive moves. Some of it was awkward, and we all were a little giggly at the "serious" shouting parts, but it was all fun and . I won't give much away, as these moves are for your own safety and not to be disseminated willy-nilly, but I'll share a few tips:

  • Stay aware - that seemed to be the bottom line. We're looking into prevention, not unnecessary confrontation, so be aware of your surroundings as much as possible. Walk confidently, look around you, have your keys ready, all those little things.
  • Be acquainted with the areas you frequent - it's a good idea to get to know locals around the places you go - your jogging paths, hiking areas, the way to work, etc. Get familiar with shop owners and neighbors, and know where your local police stations are. (Also, it's good to keep the numbers of local police cities in your phone.) If something happens, you'll know a lost faster where to go and where you can find someone to help you. 
  • Don't be afraid to attract attention - should something happen or you feel uncomfortable, don't feel embarassed or weird about doing what you need to do. That can range from taking a different elevator to parking in a different spot to speaking loudly and assertively.

Find a class near you:

Image taken from the
City of Tallahassee Police
web site.
R.A.D. has a Program Locator where you can search for a nearby class by state, most of them provided by local colleges or police departments.

If R.A.D. doesn't list one nearby you, try calling the numbers they've listed at the top. I would even encourage you just to make a quick call to your local police department and inquiring if they provide anything similar, and if not, if they could recommend any nearby self-defense classes for women. My local police provides this class every month for free. It's really good if you can find one with a nearby police department, because you'll also be able to meet a local officer who can be your advocate should anything happen in the future.

You can also try a nearby city college or YMCA. Cost should be minimal, so do it even if you're on a budget. And remember, females only! Protect the secrets of the sisterhood ;)

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