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Finding confidence in defending oneself

Self-defence course gives women a fighting chance

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Have you ever been afraid to walk alone at night? Sometimes on my way home from late-night labs I've found myself imagining rustlings in the bushes and been afraid, but I have a feeling that my days of being intimidated by noises in the brush are gone. This past Thanksgiving weekend, I attended Safe and Sound, the self-defence course offered here on campus through the fitness centre. After only four hours, I felt a little more paranoid but also empowered and confident.

According to Safe and Sound's statistics, 10 per cent of men will be assaulted while 50 per cent of women will be assaulted in their lifetime. That's a pretty high number, and it's a little frightening to think that someday I or one of my friends might be a victim of violence. However, I've now attended two seminars geared towards learning how to stay safe in positions of vulnerability as a woman and am no longer worried about what will happen to me should I at some point become another victim of violence towards females.

I come from a small town with a population of about 2,000 where there isn't much threat of non-domestic violence. I haven't experienced the dangers associated with city life until now, but having received my share of warnings from friends and family, I admit I was really looking forward to attending Safe and Sound to ease my own nerves.

An attack is a major fear among women of all ages. But something I learned this weekend is that being afraid makes you a much more likely victim. What do you think you would do if you were to be unexpectedly assaulted? Would you freeze? Or do you feel confident that you would scream and fight until you could escape?

One valuable aspect of self-defence I learned this weekend was the power of your attitude and confidence in your ability to survive. Women who have low self-confidence, poor self-image, and low self-esteem are more vulnerable to violence. There is a surprisingly significant connection between how you think of yourself and how well you will be able to protect yourself in a situation where your safety is threatened.

In Canada, a woman is assaulted at least every 10 minutes. However, 80 per cent of those who took some sort of self-defence course got away from their attackers. I can't help you build confidence but I want to encourage every woman out there to be confident and courageous. Walk with your heads held high in pride, if in nothing other than the fact that you are a woman with inner strength on your side. Believe that you are able to accomplish and overcome anything, and always have faith in yourself.

If you have the opportunity to sign up for a self-defence course, I strongly recommend it, especially for those who do feel afraid in certain situations. It's given me a totally new outlook on how to resist becoming victim, and might help others too.

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