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Journal reporter gets a lesson in personal safety
self defense pic
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It can be a scary world out there for women. That is why I decided to take matters into my own hands and enroll in the Rape Aggression Defense class offered by the Turlock Police Department and the California State University, Stanislaus Police.

“We need to realize our power and know all our options instead of just running away,” said Cheri Silveira, police officer at Stanislaus State and instructor of the Rape Aggression Defense class.

I am ready to learn how to avoid certain situations and learn how to kick butt when those situations can’t be avoided.

Bringing my mother along, I attended the first of four classes in the free 12-hour course held at the university on Wednesday.  

There were over a dozen women in the course looking for ways to take back their power. Some were there because of previous situations and some were there to learn preventative measures.

I was there because of an experience I had when I was studying in Italy. An American friend of mine was attacked by two Italian men. I wasn’t there when it happened, but I felt there was something I could have done to prevent that from happening to her. That could have been me but because I eliminated that opportunity, it was her instead.  

The first thing my parents handed me when I landed in California was pepper spray. Yes, it will help me if I am ever attacked but that is not the sole thing that could protect me from those men out there that prey on women.

On Wednesday, I learned that 90 percent of bad situations can be avoided if women are aware of their surroundings. The other 10 percent are situations that can’t be avoided and during those times, women need to learn what they can do to get help, run away or fight to survive.   

Our instructors told us to pay attention to what is around, who is around and where people can hide. Find an escape route just in case. Don’t be paranoid, but be well aware of the situations that can happen and be prepared for it.

Predator men like to prey on helpless women who look like they won’t be too much trouble to pick up and do what they wish with them, Silveira said. So yell at them, puff up your chest and show them they can’t mess with you. They won’t even bother with a woman who is already making trouble.

After only one class, I already feel more prepared to deal with bad situations, and how to prevent them in the first place.

 “You might have a victim and assailant but if there is no opportunity then it won’t happen,” Silveira said.

By eliminating that opportunity when I was in Italy, I wasn’t attacked by those two men. I didn’t give them the opportunity to prey on me. I took back my safety.

These predatory men are out there and aren’t going away anytime soon. It is our responsibility as women to take power over our personal safety.

I strongly recommend every woman out there to take a class and learn ways to protect your safety.

“When you get into a situation where you could be abducted you fight, fight, fight to the point where they can’t take you,” said Joey Mercado, Turlock police officer.

We might not have as much strength as men do, but there are ways that we can protect ourselves and, hopefully, come out alive.

If you are ever in a bad situation, call 9-1-1 or contact the Turlock Police Department dispatch at 668-1200. If you are interested in taking the R.A.D. class in the future contact Officer Taryn Weatherford at 656-3153.

To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.