Servicemembers teach self defense as part of sex assault prevention training in Bahrain

By HENDRICK SIMOES | STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 12, 2014

Note: This article has been corrected.

MANAMA, Bahrain — U.S. Marines from the Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team based here have designed a curriculum that teaches defensive techniques as a last resort to prevent a sexual assault.

It’s the first time at Naval Support Activity Bahrain that a self-defense course has been included as part of the installation’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program.

Lt. Tony Wolfe, one of the base victim advocates, said he has never seen a class like this in his 19-year Navy career. “That’s why I thought this was so great and wanted to get involved in this, because it has so much potential,” he said. He wants to see the self-defense course integrated into other SAPR training.

Officials have been developing the course since October, fine-tuning the curriculum and gauging basewide interest through demonstrations and pilot classes. The first official class was taught earlier this month.

“What I like about this is that it’s interactive,” said Katie Scarbrough, who oversees the 59 victims’ advocates on base.

The instructors, trained through the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, teach more than basic self-defense maneuvers — like what to do when you’re put in a choke hold. They also teach techniques aimed specifically at preventing sexual assault. One involves fending off someone who is on top of you; another, how to break away from someone who has his or her legs wrapped around you.

“We want to empower people with another option if they are in a situation like that,” said James Mandley, the base coordinator for sexual-assault response.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Keyrstyn Wilson said she was going to tell everyone about the course. “Especially women, my size or smaller than me ... don’t really have an advantage over a guy.”

Twitter: @hendricksimoes

Correction: Correction: An earlier version of this report misspelled the name of Keyrstyn Wilson.

Sgt. William Rivera takes down Cpl. Cole Wyrick during a demonstration Oct. 1, 2014, of a self defense class Marines from the Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team put together for Naval Support Activity Bahrain's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program.

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