Most days are juggling acts for women - work, kids, errands - and being pulled in every different direction. That can set a woman up as a target for an attacker. That is why Women & Children's Hospital in Lake Charles is providing a free self defense course, as part of its Healthy Woman program.
You have seen the videos - an unsuspecting, preoccupied woman in a parking lot - suddenly becomes the victim of attackers in broad daylight. It is something Master Carla Prejean with ATA Black Belt Academy says can happen to any unprepared woman. "You can't wait for the police to get there to save you, you have got to have some kind of skill level," she said.
That skill level starts with awareness, knowing to be alert when you are alone, busy and in prime spots for potential attacks. "Parking lots are hunting grounds for predators," said Prejean, "just like any potential prey, we have to be aware that we are stepping into hunting grounds."
Prejean says women worry that their size or age could affect their ability to fight back. "They ask me questions like, 'am I too little to do this, am I too old to do this, what can I really do against a 250 pound man?'" said Prejean.
Her answer: a lot!
Here is a mini-lesson from the master herself, starting with recognizing when you are being followed and acknowledging it with a firm "Stop!" Prejean said, "Look them in the eye and say, 'I know that you're here, I'm looking at you,' then quick assessments of a description need to be running through your head."
If the perpetrator moves closer, Prejean says get ready to go for the face. "Go for the eyes. No matter what else is happening, go for the eyes," she said. Not only will scratching up the person's face make it easier to identify them when arrested, but it can also help if DNA sampling is ever necessary.
If your back is to the attacker, you are not defenseless. "That's when you do head butts, straight back, because that's where their head is," said Prejean.
There are also some low blows that could free you up or send the attacker running, but Prejean's hope is that women who learn to be on guard and assertive will be less likely to step into harms way. "My biggest hope is that they take away the ability to see and recognize and avoid situations," she said.
If you want to go through a free self defense for women course, mark your calendar for next Thursday, July 5th. The Healthy Woman event will be at the Lake Charles Country Club from 5:30-7:00 p.m.
Women ages 25 on up are invited and need to reserve their spot by July 3rd. You can call Nadia Nazeer at 337-475-4064 to save your place or click here to join the free Healthy Woman group and register.