Women learn defense skills at Camp Foster
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Carrying oneself with confidence is just one way women can protect themselves from becoming a sexual assault victim.
Two Criminal Investigations Division agents gave this tip and others to about 40 participants of an assertive skills workshop Saturday at the Performing Arts Center on Camp Foster.
The workshop, scheduled as part of Sexual Assault Awareness month, was designed to empower women to protect themselves, said event organizers.
Assertiveness, awareness, intuition and body language are the bywords for protecting yourself, CID agent Sharon Braun said.
Predators look for “someone who portrays as an easy target,” Braun said.
Appearing self-conscious, having poor body posture, being isolated from others and always looking down give the appearance that a person is less confident, Braun told the workshop.
Attackers look for these signals because they think women who display them “will be less likely to report an attack,” she said.
CID agent Nichole Crickenberger said women who feel uncomfortable with an approaching person need to listen to their intuition and then “make it clear” in their tone of voice and by backing it up with confident body language.
To protect oneself during alcohol-related situations, Crickenberger said ladies should always have a plan that includes at least one trustworthy, sober person who will ensure the group stays together and everyone sticks to the evening plan.
A woman already separated from the group is an easier target for an attacker, Crickenberger said.
“No matter what age – 13, 14, 15 or 40 – have your battle buddy,” added Braun.
And in every situation, be aware of the surroundings and the people in those surroundings, she said.
The two agents also had tips if one is attacked despite taking caution.
“You’re going to be in fear of your safety” but you can still act, Braun said. “Scream. Make it known you’re being attacked.”
And remember, “there are no rules when you are trying to defend yourself,” Crickenberger said.
If a victim is going to fight their attacker, they should go for any vulnerable spot within reach, she said.
Fingers to the eye, poking the nose, a strike to the groin, even heels grinding an attacker’s foot may disable him long enough for a woman to break away, the agents said.
Once loose, start running, Crickenberger urged.
“If you can flee, it’s better than trying to confront your attacker,” she said.
The two agents stressed that even if someone escapes an attack they should report the perpetrator to the police immediately since they may try to assault someone else.
“The class does help,” said Kristi Ortega who said she was victimized by a relative as a child and teen. Through classes such as this, she said she has gained self-confidence and learned how to not be a victim.
All you need is “just one second to get yourself out to run and call the cops,” Ortega said.