Course aids women in escaping attacks

The course was given by university officers.

Psychology major Elise Lullo gives University Police Officer Darren Sanders a swift knee to the groin as Magda Coromoto Gelvez reacts during a self defense training course Sunday at the University Police Department.

DAVID MASSEY/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Monday, January 24, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 23, 2005 at 11:13 p.m.
At 4-foot-10, Karen Cochran always thought she would make an easy target for an attacker - until Saturday.
"I'm little; I'm a woman," said the student who's studying to become an emergency medical technician. "I've always had that fear that someone could just overtake me."
Cochran was one of 19 women who learned a variety of techniques to fight off assailants at a Rape Aggression Defense Systems course held by the University of Florida Police Department over the weekend.
The 12-hour course is free for UF students, faculty and staff and offered twice a month, said Nicholas Vellis, a captain with the Community Services Division. Defense training of this type is offered throughout the nation, and women who take the course can update their skills anytime at various locations.
"Look how much people are getting out of this," Vellis said as several women threw kicks at officers with protective red cushions. "We want our community to get to know us, so if you really need us, you'll trust us."
The women learned methods like the hammer fist - a motion that involves slamming one's fist into the nose of an attacker - that would allow them to maximize their strength against predators.
"I want you to hit him as hard as you can," UPD Officer Cilitia Brown told a woman confronting one of her police colleagues.
Officer Darren Sanders, who organizes the programs for UPD, explained the snap kick, which involves simultaneously lifting the right knee and extending the foot.
A woman at the University of Kentucky used this kick to ward off an assailant, Sanders said. She hit him in the groin, and the police found him in the same position half an hour later.
Fighting back increases a victim's chance of escape, said Sgt. Walt Hamby. After several hundred women took a self-defense course at Stanford University, 40 of them endured sexual-assault attempts. Thirty-eight of the 40 women escaped before the assaults were completed, Hamby said. As for the women who escaped, 30 stunned or disabled the attackers with skills they learned in the class, and eight yelled for help. The two women who were raped did nothing to fight back.
This defense course is well worth the two-or-three day commitment it involves, Hamby said.
"In the 12 hours that we're together with the students, over 1,000 women are attacked, beaten, raped or murdered" nationally, Hamby said.
Although UPD has not set a date for the next self-defense course, women interested in the program can call 392-1409 to receive updated information, Vellis said.
"There were a couple people who were pretty timid-looking when they came in," he said. But pretty soon, "I don't see any left."

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