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Hillview police help teach self-defense

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By Stephen Thomas

HILLVIEW - You're walking alone and a suspicious looking person begins to approach. What do you do?

Members of the Hillview Police Department want citizens to think about it and be able to respond accordingly.

A free seminar sponsored by the Hillview Police Officers Association offered advice and strategies to prepare would-be attack victims.

Sergeant Connie Rausch and Officer Justin Nally volunteered their time and experience to the seminar.

"This is not the end-all be-all of defense," Nally told participants. "This is a quick, basic response to the need for everyone to have the very basic skills to defend themselves."

Rausch distributed informational packets with advice pertaining to potential domestic violence situations both physical and verbal. She advised having a safety plan including people to contact in an emergency situation and advising to call police for assistance.

Much of the seminar was geared toward women defending themselves against larger male attackers.

"Due to this reality you must depend on technique and leverage," Nally said. "You have to be able to accept your limitations. By using distractions and the attacker's force against them you will survive."

Both officers agreed that individuals should prepare for the shock of being grabbed and practice their response.

"If you have the will to get out of a situation you will," said Nally. "If you don't practice it you're gonna lose it."

Advising participants on tips of how not to become a victim, the officers suggested walking with confidence, using common sense and following gut instincts.

"Let people know you're aware of what's going on as you walk," Rausch said.

Preparation and awareness of surroundings is crucial, along with preparation of what to do if an incident occurs.

"Think as you arrive somewhere, or you're on your way," said Rausch. "Be a little aware of what's going on around you."

Nally suggested that if you carry protection, such as pepper spray or a walking stick, always have it available and ready for use. Improvise a weapon in an emergency if necessary.

"Your best weapon in the world is your car key," he said, demonstrating how to hold a key to be used in an emergency.

Rausch advised making as much noise as necessary during a potential attack.

"The more noise you can make the less likely they're gonna hang around," she said.

The seminar included safety habits the officers suggested such as evaluating your environment for potential dangers.

Other suggested habits included not walking alone in secluded areas, walking in well lit areas, parking under lights, informing others where you are going and for how long, not opening a home door unless you know who the person is, having keys in your hand before heading outside, locking car doors first when you enter a car and not flashing money or jewelry.

Most important of all, the officers advised, was never do what a potential attacker asks you to do.

"Learn not to be submissive," Rausch said.

Defense and escape tactics were offered to seminar participants, with advice to get help immediately after an escape.

Seminar participants practiced defense techniques and tactics. The officers discussed attacker's weak points and how to strike in self-defense.

"Part of this training is learning how to defend yourself," said Nally. "If you've never hit someone before you don't know what it feels like."

Tactics included a push/pull move that Nally said could be used against an attacker's own inertia.

"When their arm is thrust at you, you grab it and pull the attacker away from you with his own force," Nally said. "Then you head off in the other direction."

The officers said many instances involve purse-snatching attempts. They advised not keeping money or special items of value such as family heirlooms in a purse. Participants learned how to carry purses in a safe, smart way.

Nally also discussed "dump and run" and "throw and run" techniques, ways to keep a victim safe by getting as far away from a purse or its contents as necessary for safety reasons.

The seminar participants were excited to learn the many ways they could defend themselves and remain safe. Barbara Ashbaugh admitted she brought her teen daughter and friend to learn how to remain safe as younger citizens.

"Girls at this age need this kind of teaching," she said.

Ashbaugh admitted she learned quite a bit as well, adding that the training would also be helpful to her son who has dealt with a bully in school.

"I think this training would help anybody," she said.

"We want to keep the class simple, but we stress the practice," Nally said. He added that the seminar could be held on a monthly basis if citizens show enough interest.

The next self-defense seminar is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 5, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Hillview Community Center. Nally said anyone age 13 and over is invited.

Rausch and Nally's seminar is also available to local organizations and groups. Anyone interested should contact the Hillview Police Department, 955-6808.

Nally thanked the Hillview Recreation Department and coordinator Terry Bohannon for support along with the Hillview city clerks. Corbin's Karate Academy supplied safety equipment at no charge.