September 05, 2016
While in Sweden this summer, I was approached by a man on a street asking for directions.
I was alone. And immediately, red flags went off in my mind.
I assessed the situation and tried to help him.
Soon, it became clear to me that this man didn’t need directions. He started to ask questions like “where are you from?” and “are you here with friends?”
I asked the man to leave me alone, but he continued to follow me through the streets. I was able to text my mom and let her know the situation, and moved to a safer environment with more people by turning onto busier streets.
Eventually, the man left me alone.
If I didn’t have any self-defense training I would not have had the knowledge on how to make the situation safe, nor would I have been able to stay cool and contact my mom.
In these moments, I am grateful that I quit ballet in elementary school and joined taekwondo. I trained for years and ended up with my black belt. This was one of the best decisions I could have made as a kid.
There have been situations when a man asking me for directions has been just for that reason, and most of the time, that might be the case, no need for alarm.
The self-defense experience I have has kept me safe, and continues to do so in my college career.
Colorado Springs is no stranger to catcalling, and, as a young woman, it’s scary, especially when I’m alone. There is always the fear of “is he just going to call, or will it turn into more?”
But knowing that I have self-defense training gives me great comfort, even on campus. UCCS is not the street of a big city, but that’s not to say things don’t happen. UCCS had six sexual offense cases reported by the police from 2012-2014.
Staying safe on campus is certainly something I watch out for, whether I walk around campus late in the evening or just spend time with other students outside of the classroom, especially since many assault cases are with people that victims know.
Sexual assault cases aren’t frequent and don’t always happen the way we expect them to, according to interim chief of police Marc Pino.
“Most sexual assault cases are with somebody (the victim) knew, and not the stereotypical ‘somebody jumps out from behind a bush’ stories you are more likely to hear,” said Pino.
My martial arts and self-defense training not only gives me the confidence to be able to walk around alone, but it gives me the knowledge of how to recognize and asses a dangerous situation as well as how to get out of it in a timely and safe manner.
Whether it’s learned in a martial arts class or in a self-defense training seminar at UCCS, both men and women should learn how to protect themselves.