According to the 2007 study titled “US women’s choices of strategies to protect themselves from violence” done by the U.S. National Institute of Health, “47% [of women] avoided doing things they needed to do and 71% avoided doing things they wanted to do because of their fear of victimization. Violence against women (VAW) is widespread and linked to negative public health and social outcomes.”
Meghan Moody, a freshman member of Peer Leaders created the idea for the Women’s Self-Defense course now offered on-campus.
“[My goal was] for women to feel more aware of their surroundings and to feel protected by themselves, even if there’s no one around for them on campus,” Moody said.
According to Moody, Peer Leaders is a student-led group on-campus that focuses on helping the campus community with their mental health. The group is sponsored by Academic Counselor Mary Hamilla and University Counselor Nathan Altman.
“For the longest time, I’ve actually wanted to do a self-defense class or join one,” Moody explained. “I had the idea back in September or October. My group Peer Leaders and I were discussing ideas, and that just came to my mind. I’ve been very passionate about it.”
The first class was held in the Wiley Armory Wrestling Room March 16 from 6-7 p.m., with the subsequent classes to be held March 23, April 6 and April 13 at the same time and place.
Moody said the course had to be approved by Associate Dean of Students Pat Bristor, to ensure that there was adequate insurance in the event of any accidents or injury.
Moody said although only two participants joined her for the first session, she anticipates an increase in involvement as advertisement materials gain more visibility and word spreads.
Moody contacted Assistant Director of Security Operations and Emergency Management Lucas Kiger to gauge interest in helping to instruct the class.
“Then he contacted his friend David Jones and that’s kind of where I went from there,” Moody said.
Jones is a certified Defensive Tactics Instructor whom Kiger has known for 20 years. He is also helping to instruct the courses.
Moody said a women’s self-defense course is taught very similarly to that of a co-ed course, with added tips on how women can use traditionally female apparel, such as heels, for self-protection.
“I’m just hopeful, well, of course that there’s a greater turnout, but that people will enjoy this sort of thing and would like to contribute, join and feel more comfortable with themselves on campus,” she said. “No matter what gender you are, just have a better idea of how to protect yourself.”