Fight for your own safety


By Emma Goodwin

A few weeks ago at my sorority chapter, we had a special guest speaker: University police officer Ryan Snow. He came to talk to us about self-defense during attacks and possible instances of sexual assault.

At one point, he asked us if we wore heels and skirts when we went out.

My stomach immediately hit the floor — I was not about to sit through a lecture of him telling us that sexual assault is a woman’s fault if she’s wearing a certain type of clothing, which seems to be a pattern.

But that’s not the direction he was headed, luckily.

Instead, he asked us to consider how that would affect us if we were under attack. For example, do we think we would be able to run away easily with heels on?

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When our answer was no, he nodded in agreement. But then he explained: That doesn’t mean don’t wear heels out, necessarily, but if you do, don’t use running as your defense mechanism.

A heel is pretty effective when you use it for defensive stomping, after all.

A talk I was initially nervous about ended up teaching me the importance of self-defense and taking my safety into my own hands. It’s impossible to rely on others to save you before an attack happens. Instead, we have to start relying on ourselves to combat potential attackers.

Acts of aggression seem to be approached with “Oh, it won’t happen to me” attitudes. But, in reality, University Crime Alerts seem to be sent out quite frequently to students, and, furthermore, it is said that one in four college females will be sexually assaulted.

I realized how utterly unprepared I was if I were ever attacked — both in cases of sexual assault and battery or robbery.

Officer Snow’s talk made me think about the importance of standing up for myself if I ever found myself in a dangerous situation.

For both men and women, this unpreparedness is nerve-wracking. Being unprepared for an attack leaves one vulnerable to becoming a victim.

The statistics tell us how omnipresent acts of assault are. While people will graduate from college without ever being assaulted, I doubt that anyone will graduate without ever feeling nervous about a potential attack.

Heck, if someone is walking behind me on the street, I take my phone out and make a fake call.

It’s important to know what we’re going to do in case that initial nervousness turns into actual threatening danger. We have the opportunity to save ourselves from life-threatening situations and situations that will eternally haunt us.

Instead of being made victims, we can be our own heroes.

In an ideal world, sexual assault, or attack education in general, would consist of the phrase “don’t assault and attack people.” Everyone would hear it, learn it and live it.

But since that doesn’t seem to be happening, and it isn’t a foolproof defense, I think it’s time that we start taking our safety into our own hands.

Just recently, a crime alert was emailed to the University student body about an on-campus attack. After stealing the victim’s purse, “the victim chased the offender and he dropped the purse after he slipped and fell near the Vivarium Building (606 E. Healey Street, Champaign). The victim then kicked the offender in the face.”

This is a perfect example of someone relying on their own power to fend off an offender — a person rescuing themselves.

With so many different self-defense strategies, it’s not that hard to find ways to defend yourself that you’re personally comfortable with. This can be as easy as arming yourself with pepper spray or as planned as moves you learned in a self-defense class.

Or, like Officer Snow taught us, using the heels on our shoes. Maybe a combination of all of these.

Campus police even offer self-defense classes for both men and women to teach self-defense preparedness.

I don’t want to be a victim. I want to be able to save myself from situations. Relying on other people not to attack me doesn’t make me progressive or forward-thinking. It makes me ill-prepared and ignorant.

If we take our safety into our own hands, we have the opportunity to try to save ourselves if and when an attack happens. I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather try to put up a fight than automatically be made a victim.

Emma is a sophomore in LAS. She can be reached at [email protected].