At a seminar Friday, women will have the opportunity to learn how to reduce their risk of sexual assault and how to defend themselves using krav maga techniques. Steamboat Springs police detective Nick Bosick works with Holly Wilde, who teaches krav maga at his studio, and Diane Moore, of Advocates Building Peaceful Communities, to offer the program at Colorado Mountain College.

Photo by John F. Russell

At a seminar Friday, women will have the opportunity to learn how to reduce their risk of sexual assault and how to defend themselves using krav maga techniques. Steamboat Springs police detective Nick Bosick works with Holly Wilde, who teaches krav maga at his studio, and Diane Moore, of Advocates Building Peaceful Communities, to offer the program at Colorado Mountain College.

Sexual assault survivor encourages women to learn self-defense

CMC to hold free prevention seminar at 5:30 p.m. Friday in the gymnasium

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What: Sexual assault prevention seminar

When: 5:30 p.m. Friday

Where: Colorado Mountain College gymnasium

Cost: Free

— If Tara Shaffer has learned anything from krav maga, it's that she could have fought back.

The Steamboat Springs resident was two weeks into her freshman year of college when she was sexually assaulted by an acquaintance. Shaffer started to feel tired at a party. She asked her friends to walk her home, but they weren't ready to leave. A man from her dormitory offered to walk her. When they returned to the dorm, he pushed her into her room and raped her, she said.

"I tried to fight, but my arms just didn't work," Shaffer said. "I can't tell you if that was mortal fear or I was drugged."

The man later told her to keep quiet.

"He said, 'If you ever tell everyone what happened, I'll tell them you're a slut, and I'll tell your boyfriend you're a slut,'" Shaffer said.

She now takes krav maga classes, where she learns self-defense and hand-to-hand combat. At a seminar Friday, women will have the opportunity to learn how to reduce their risk of sexual assault and how to defend themselves using krav maga.

Shaffer's experience is one that Nick Bosick, Holly Wilde and Diane Moore don't want anyone else to have. Bosick is a Steamboat Springs police detective and teaches krav maga with Wilde at his studio, High Altitude Krav Maga. Moore is the executive director of Advocates Building Peaceful Communities.

The three put together Friday's program partly

because April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Moore said. In 70 or 80 percent of sexual assaults, like Shaffer's, the victim knows the attacker, she said.

"I think that's something that's really important for our community to become more and more aware of, and females in general," she said. "It's not the stranger we often grow up believing."

She added that women should avoid walking alone at night and should carry pepper spray.

"Today versus 10 or 20 years ago, there are more risks," Moore said. "Our community has grown."

Friday's program is free and open to any woman. Moore will provide advice and information about resources, and Wilde will teach krav maga, Bosick said. Moore plans to have staff members on hand to help women who need counseling or support.

Women will have the opportunity to test self-defense techniques on people wearing padded suits, Bosick said. The seminar is expected to last three hours.

"Everybody that attends and participates is going to walk away with something they'll be able to use in their life, and that's what we're trying to do here," he said.

Shaffer said it has taken her years to work through her experience. She started drinking heavily and then transferred to a different college. She cut out alcohol when she learned that sex was considered rape if a person could not give consent because she was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

She plans to attend Friday's session.

"I'm going to come and just help hold pads and things like that, and I am totally open to questions," she said. "I'm not shy at all about being asked. If it can help someone else, just one person from going through something like that, it's well worth it."

Shaffer encouraged women to stay with friends while out at night and to carry pepper spray. She also reiterated the importance of learning how to fight back.

"They can defend themselves, and that means two things: They're allowed to, and they're capable of it," Shaffer said. "Even if they're a little tiny woman and it's a big man, it doesn't matter. You're still capable, and that's what krav maga has shown me."

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