In honor of National Self-Defense Awareness month, officers and instructors are speaking out.
The American Women’s Self-Defense Association provides startling statistics. One out of every four women are sexually assaulted in their lifetime. Association statistics show that a woman is raped every four seconds.
Local officer Souix Greninger says Mayes County is not exempt from the violence.
“Last year, there were 347 protective orders filed in Mayes County,” said Greninger. “The total number of domestic calls made to the police department was 420.”
Greninger is a domestic violence officer, and handles these cases personally.
“I presented 67 cases to the district attorney for charges. In addition to these, I had six cases of sexual assault and three stalking charges. We have domestic court once a week with the honorable Judge Rebecca Gore.”
Greninger said Mayes County Sheriff Mike Reed teaches a women’s self-defense class.
“He had three classes last year and there was between 40 and 70 people in each class,” said Greninger. “It’s both educational and fun. He teaches some great techniques. Everyone from the smallest to the heaviest, from the youngest to the oldest can do these things. I strongly recommend this course.”
Michelle Brasher teaches a self-defense course through the Pryor Creek Recreation Center.
“I teach Kuk Son Won which is a non-aggressive self-defense martial art,” said Brasher. “It teaches you to get away. It is about defense, not aggression.”
Brasher has been teaching a total of 15 years and says she is one of few female instructors of martial arts.
In addition to teaching at the rec center, she does programs in the elementary school’s physical education classes.
“It teaches kids etiquette and self-discipline,” said Brasher.
Brasher offers some practical knowledge that is crucial for everyone, especially women, to know.
“I’ve had teachers ask me what to do if someone comes at them with a gun, for example,” said Brasher. “Don’t face them straight on, turn sideways. This gives them less of a target, even back away sideways.”
“Most importantly, be confident in yourself and your surroundings,” Brasher said.
Both women agree that being aware of surroundings is key.
“Don’t let yourself become a victim. Don’t be so preoccupied that you don’t think about your surroundings,” said Greninger.
“Walk with your head up and eyes open so you see what’s going on around you. Look people in the eyes,” said Brasher. “When they realize you’ve seen them, an attacker will think twice before attacking you.”
She said small things, such as having the keys in hand before walking to your car and carrying purses close to the body can make a huge difference.
“Being confident can make an attacker hesitate, and that hesitation could save your life,” said Brasher.
The AWSDA reported that 60 percent of domestic violence victims are women, and 40 percent are men.
Brasher’s martial arts course is structured to accommodate everyone.
Safenet Services of Pryor is available for any women who have been a victim of domestic violence or assault.
“They offer counseling and they help fill out protective orders. They also provide any needed resources like shelter, clothes and food. They even help with relocation when necessary,” said Greninger.
For information about Brasher’s class, call (918) 344-9483. To get in touch with Safenet Services call (918) 825-0190.