Center for Women and Families volunteer coordinator Dominique Nichols said that October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and so volunteers have worked hard to help educate women about both domestic violence, and how women can protect themselves.
The seminar, Nichols said, will begin at 5 p.m. in the SUU Sharwan Smith living room area. She said the event was created to help raise awareness about some of the myths women have learned about how to defend themselves when they are being attacked.
Owner and chief instructor of On Target Defensive Training Dan Kidder said that bad advice is given out often and mistaken for good advice from those who don’t know any better.
“Misinformation that is used incorrectly could get you hurt or killed,” he said.
For instance, he said there is currently a rumor circulating on the internet that is telling women to use wasp spray instead of pepper spray when they go out at night. Kidder said that this is very bad advice and a woman who follows these instructions could find herself in terrible danger.
“Pepper Spray is designed to cause blepharospasm (sustained, forced, involuntary closing of the eyelids),” Kidder said. “It incapacitates the attacker with more than just a pain response, because it also causes a restriction in the blood vessels.”
Kidder said that when using pepper spray it doesn’t matter if a person has a high pain tolerance, is drunk and numb to pain, or is even blind, because it causes a physiological reaction, not just a pain reaction.
There are many other myths to be dispelled said On Target student Jen Sorenson.
Sorenson said that she first met Kidder several years ago when she took her first self-defense class with him, and has since attended refresher seminars, and helped to plan events, because she got so much out of the class she took that she wanted to help make it available to others.
“It’s not your typical self-defense class,” she said. “It’s a lot more intense”
Sorenson said she was surprised to learn some of the myths, because she found herself guilty of believing them herself. She said the biggest surprise to her was that talking on your cell phone on your way to the car at night actually makes you more vulnerable than safe, because it takes your attention away from your surroundings long enough to an attacker to make a move.
Kidder said he wanted to be clear when he defined the type of attacks that would be discussed, because there are different levels of crime and different types of attacks. He said this seminar would focus on the opportunistic type of criminal that is typically a stranger, and is looking to commit a spontaneous crime.
“Women are much more likely to become victims,” Kidder said. “Criminals tend to prey on the weak – they take the easy path – and women are typically not as strong as men.”
Nichols said that for the past ten years, Utah has had the highest rate of rape in the nation, and it important to make sure that women know how to protect themselves in case of any type of attack.
Kidder said that when a woman fights back there is only a three percent success rate for the completion of a rape.
“If you don’t fight back it’s about 70 percent that is successful,” he said.
Kidder said statistics like that are the reason he became involved with teaching courses in women’s self-defense, and offering free seminars to the public about how to avoid the safety pitfalls that myths can create.
Kidder said he had two friends who were assaulted many years ago, one raped, and the other murdered. He said that he knew in his heart that if he had taught them just a few of the skills he had acquired throughout his military training as a soldier in the United States Marine Corps during Operation Desert Storm, they may have had a chance to turn the tables on their attackers.
“Had I ever even thought about it,” he said. “I could have given these girls the skills that may have changed the outcome, it may not have, but it could have…”
Nichols said that the seminar is just one of the events planned for this month at SUU to help fight domestic violence. She said that they have free information available on a table outside of their door that will provide statistics and resources for interest parties.
More information about this event is available on their event page, Defeating the Myths of Self Defense, on facebook.