Great Falls News

Feb 9, 2013 7:52 PM by Tara Grimes - MTN News

YWCA uses self defense class to empower women

GREAT FALLS - The YWCA held a self-defense training class on Saturday to give women techniques to use in case of an attack.

Maryah Schrock, one of the participants, said she was around 7 years old when a walk around town with a friend turned into a scary situation.

"There was these two guys following us," Schrock said. "We had this whole plan where there was a park nearby and another park somewhere else, and she was going to run one way and I was going to run the other."

Now in eighth grade, Schrock says she wants to be prepared if she finds herself in that position again, but she isn't the only one. YWCA executive director Janet Duffy said the idea for the class came about after becoming a victim of assault herself.

"We have ladies from different walks of life here today and different experiences," Duffy said. "Some of us carry old wounds, new wounds, and this is a way for us to not be victims and to say 'okay try it, see what happens.' Our goal is we are not martial artists, and I don't even want to present it that way, but the strategies learned in today's class empower these woman to escape."

With sobering statistics on domestic violence and sexual assault, instructors say this class is needed. According to the Great Falls Police Department, in 2011 there were 238 reported cases of domestic violence and 115 cases of sexual assaults in Great Falls. Both those numbers jumped in 2012, when there were 280 reported cases of domestic violence and 169 reported cases of sexual assaults. The YWCA says for every one reported case, nine others go unreported.

No matter how young or old, big or small, these techniques are useful for anyone needing to fight back and escape.

"I feel a lot more confident," Schrock said. "I easily feel like if someone were to try and come up and take me I could easily fight them off."

The YWCA said it hopes to hold more of these classes in the future.

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