Women, defend yourselves

Advocates offering free self-defense class Saturday

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Steamboat Springs' small size sometimes creates a false sense of security when it comes to women's safety against attacks and sexual assault.

Breaking this perception were several reports of possible sexual assaults in public areas this summer. Those reports, as well as requests from women wanting to know how to protect themselves, have spurred Advocates Against Battering and Abuse to host a free women's self-defense class Saturday.

"The truth of the matter is it can happen to anybody, and it can happen anywhere. ... It is really important to be cautious and aware," said Marchele McEntee, an Advocates case manager who will be leading the class.

During the three-hour program, McEntee, who was trained through the Rape Assistance and Awareness program in Denver, will teach women physical techniques such as kicks, strikes and releases.

She also will focus on self-defense skills and assertive behavior, which can be key in preventing attacks, she said.

"I think sometimes that can be the best self-defense mechanism," she said.

The class also will include information about sexual assault prevention and date-rape drugs.

Part of being cautious and aware is understanding perpetrators. Although women often assume attackers are strangers who jump out of bushes, 75 percent of the time the victims know their attackers, McEntee said.

In addition to teaching women defense techniques, the class will gauge the community's interest in a longer, in-depth class that would provide more information on mental preparation, dealing with multiple attackers and physical techniques for ground fighting and other attack situations, she said.

The full training course, which could be up to two days long, also would address weapons and laws relating to self-defense.

McEntee will be looking for opportunities to teach the short and long versions of the classes to small women's clubs and groups, she said.

"It's a great opportunity to come out and learn ways to protect yourself. ... It's a good way to be supported by and meet other women," McEntee said.

The self-defense class will be from 9 a.m. to noon in the Bristol Hall gym at Colorado Mountain College. Call 879-2034 to register.

-- To reach Tamera Manzanares call 871-4204 or e-mail tmanzanares@steamboatpilot.com

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