The Daily Gamecock

USC to offer self-defense classes this fall

Workshops to prepare, empower women

With a series of women’s self-defense workshops it’s offering this semester, USC hopes to help students, faculty and staff be prepared, feel empowered and find a voice.

The classes, co-sponsored by the Division of Law Enforcement and Safety and Student Health Services Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention and Prevention (SAVIP), were first offered last year and will be offered to women four times this fall. Spring dates have not yet been announced.

Lt. Teena Gooding, of Law Enforcement and Safety’s operations bureau, one of the instructors, said each four-hour class teaches women physical defense techniques and distraction methods. The classes also offer strategies for “finding your voice” in uncomfortable situations and being an accountable bystander, she said.

“A lot of females have this vision that people are going to help them if something happens, and, unfortunately, that’s not the case,” Gooding said. “Women need to know how to protect themselves and be OK with that and find their voice.”

Michelle Eichelberger, the coordinator of the interpersonal violence program, took the class herself last year and said she felt empowered by what she learned.

“You leave (the class) feeling like, if something happens to me, I have multiple choices of things that could possibly help me, or at least get me away (to) where I can find help,” Eichelberger said.

Third-year criminal justice student Julie Moran took the class last year and said she feels more aware of her surroundings and safer when she’s out by herself.

“The defense tactics were great, but what I really took away from this class was how to avoid getting in situations where I would have to use those techniques,” Moran said. “I found that the most helpful part was learning about other women’s past experiences. It helped in learning who was most likely to attack you or what you could do if you found yourself in the same position or even how to prevent a situation like this from happening.”

Statistics from SAVIP showed there were 68 reported instances of harassment, stalking, sexual assault and relationship violence on campus or in public areas near campus in 2010.

Eichelberger said freshmen and sophomores are at the highest risk for interpersonal violence, and the majority of crimes reported to SAVIP involve alcohol use.

It’s also more common for victims to be attacked by someone they know, Eichelberger said.

“Typically, growing up, your parents train you to be afraid of the stranger,” Gooding said. “They never really train you to be concerned about somebody you know.”

The workshop is hands-on, and participants will receive demonstrations and practice defense techniques with partners.

But Gooding warned that while they should expect the class to be helpful, participants shouldn’t expect the class to be too easy, either.

“It’s a tough class,” Gooding said. “Don’t come and think that you’re not going to be uncomfortable, because you may be uncomfortable.

“But this world is uncomfortable ... I’d rather you be uncomfortable in a safe environment and know how to get out of it than be uncomfortable out there and [have] no one around to help you.”

Classes are limited to 15 participants and will be held in the Strom Thurmond Wellness and Fitness Center Sept. 14, Oct. 5, Oct. 26 and Nov. 30.

To sign up for one of this semester’s four self-defense classes, fill out a registration form, found on SAVIP’s website.

That form can be accessed at: