Campus police annual course arms students with self defense skills


Participants of an annual on-campus self defense seminar practiced physical combat while tackling social constructs last week.

Hosted by St. Edward’s University Police Department (UPD), the seminar included physical demonstrations and an informational seminar on Monday.

UPD officer Bobby Garcia informed the class of the most current statistics on assault, however, Garcia says the numbers change from year to year.

In this year’s seminar organized by officer Danielle Donohue, participants learned about the risk of assault for men and women. Garcia presented that 80 to 90 percent of victims know their assaulter, 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted during their lifetime and 9 out of 10 of those raped are female.

Upon hearing these statistics and learning how sexual assault has risen, the class seemed alarmed. When asked about the statistics concerning sexual assault, freshman Jennifer Harb expressed her intentions for taking the self defense class.

“I already knew the statistics from before,” Harb said. “They were kind of a way to wake me and think that maybe I should take this self defense class.”

Harb also spoke to the uncertainty of the nature of sexual assault.

“It’s scary because you think this is never going to happen to you, but maybe it could,” Harb said. “You don’t want to just take that chance and be helpless.”

After sharing the statistics, Officer Danielle Donohue disclosed on her experience in her youth with sexual assault. She stressed how valuable it was learning how to defend herself and how it has shifted her perception of safety.

“I was with a group of girls, girls I was really close to, and I got lost for a minute,” Donohue said. “That’s all it took.”

Donohue demonstrated how to walk to one’s car, noting that her sharpest key resides between her thumb and index finger, vigilant to any attack. She mentioned that it was only slight paranoia, physical awareness and preparation.

The interactive portion of the course allowed the women in the class to practice defensive motions, as well as combat moves, against male police officers Garcia and Harold Subia.

Officers Gilroy and Donohue demonstrated defensive stances and a variation of punches and kicks. Samantha Hull, a freshman engaged in the lesson and was glad with her results.

“I went into the course feeling scared,” Hull said. “I thought it would be very intimidating, but coming out of it, I felt empowered because I got to practice all the moves one on one with a police officer.”

The class was also presented with a triangle of crime graph that displayed reasons for assault. Much of assault occurs because of 80% opportunity, 10% desire and 10% ability. One of the missions of the class was eliminating the opportunity an aggressor has by instilling defensive characteristics in women. Because of social constructs, many women remain passive and refrain from fighting back.

Personal tools for women in seconds of combat mentioned during the class were the brain, voice, the back of the head, forehead, hand, elbow, knee and foot.

“Your voice,” Gilroy said. “Your voice is your best friend.”

Hull urges the importance of maintaining keenness to ourselves as young women, but also to the community. According to the nation’s leading anti-sexual violence organization, some steps to prevent assault can be found in the word CARE. By creating a distraction, asking directly, referring an authority or simply enlisting others, a sexual assault can be prevented.

“Don’t be that type of guy that by-stands and don’t be the type of guy to initiate it,” Harb said. “The world is hard enough as it is and it can be even harder for girls.”

Harb believes the community can support prevention of sexual assault by assessing friends and their choices when it comes to initiating sexual intentions with others.

“I think the most common mistake women make is underestimating their abilities and not knowing exactly how strong they are,” Harb said. “[Girls] need to do everything that it takes to get away from whatever situation is harming them and not being afraid to stick up for themselves and fight back.”