Northwest NEWS

November 1, 1999

Home & Garden

It's time to defend yourself

Advice for protecting yourself and tips for picking a self-defense class

   Since we turned back the clocks on Sunday, it will start getting darker sooner. Whether local women jog after work or grocery shop at 6 p.m., now is a good time to remind them about how to defend themselves from potential sexual assaults and abductions.

   Trust your instincts: If a situation seems risky, it probably is. Don't be afraid to run away from a potentially bad situation. If someone is approaching you and you don't feel comfortable, raise your voice, calling attention to the individual, or run to a more populated area.

   Be aware of your surroundings: Know your typical routes and become familiar with the local area in the daytime. At night, avoid deserted areas, park under streetlights whenever possible, and get in the habit of looking for nearby phones in case of an emergency.

   Be prepared: Wear clothes you can run in and observe your surroundings. It may be convenient to do errands after work, but it's wiser to change out of a dress and heels first. If you're attacked, scream, throw down your purse, and run to a populated area.

   Check out suspicious activity: Whether you're a man or a woman, if you see something suspicious happening to another individual, call 9-1-1 or go get help nearby. Sexual assaults and abductions in our communities impact us all.

   If you escape an attack, seek emotional support: Women that escape an attack often think they don't need help, but regardless of a positive outcome, an attempted assault can be very tramautizing.

   Sign up for a self-defense class: A good self-defense class should include at least 24 hours of instruction and emphasize the need for ongoing practice of techniques. Staff should be able to provide accurate information about sexual assult and be knowledgeable about its long-term effects on former victims. Participants should be skeptical of classes that make guarantees about future safety or about classes that claim to teach self-defense in just a few hours.

   Self-defense instruction is available in many formats from several organizations in the Puget Sound area. For more information, call King County Sexual Assault Resource Center's Education Department at (425) 226-5062, or check out the agency's website at www.kcsarc.org.