The Michigan National Guard sexual assault coordinators and victim advocates hosted a 3-day workshop for self-defense 14-16 April, in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness month.
According to recent statistics, there is an average of 293,066 victims (age 12 and older) of rape and assault each year. This workshop included tips on safe dating, avoiding high risk behaviors, and personal security that could possibly prevent someone from becoming a statistic.
“Safety and self-defense classes are given all over the United States, we thought it would be a great accent to SAAM to offer this course for our Soldiers, employees, contractors etc., to help keep ourselves and others as safe as possible and help reduce the risk that we, one of our family members or co-workers could become a victim of a violent crime,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Linda Legg-Teeple, victim advocate coordinator the Michigan National Guard.
Sgt. 1st Class Shawn Menard was the instructor of the workshop and offered many reasons why the course has value.
“Because the world can be a pretty ugly place. People have to start assuming responsibility for their own safety. Sexual assault, in particular, is becoming a huge problem in the military,” said Menard. “The most important part of this class is the awareness and avoidance piece, because once you get to the point where you have to physically defend yourself, all of your options suck.”
The self-defense course is just one of the events that Legg-Teeple and her office are hosting this month. They also held a lunch ‘n’ learn with Debra Rousseau who spoke about her experience as the unit chief of the special victim’s unit for the Michigan assistant prosecuting attorney’s office. They are also holding refresher training for the Michigan National Guard’s victim advocates.
“All of us have a role in building safe, healthy relationships and communities, we need to start these conversations to raise awareness and promote healthy sexuality,” said Legg-Teeple. “These choices that we make could potentially impact our lives, the lives of our loved ones, our community, and even our society’s perception of sexual violence.”
Legg-Teeple hopes that the training will raise awareness and continue throughout the year, not just the month of April.
“The message we are trying to promote is that we all need to do our part to eliminate sexual assault. To protect ourselves, and others,” she said.