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Course teaches women to defend against attackers
FBI estimates 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted during her life
Jeannie Nash, director of The Watchdog, LLC, leads a class of women through self-defense moves at the Mulberry Creek Community Center. Nash leads the course, teaching the Rape Aggression Defense system.

Growing up as a child, Paul Kent constantly would see his mother upset after coming home from her job interacting with victims of sexual assaults.

His mother was a Rape Response counselor and helped victims of sexual abuse and rape.

That's why Kent, a Gainesville State College police officer, volunteered as an instructor for a four-session Rape Aggression Defense course for women. The classes began Jan. 24, and more than 20 women were in attendance Tuesday for the third class in the series.

"Watching my mom growing up, coming home very disgruntled and very emotional by seeing these girls — it just made me want to do it even more," Kent said.

The course teaches women how to deal with a situation that may put them in danger. But instructors spent much of the course teaching the women how to avoid being in such situations.

Having a male instructor allows the women to experience a point of view they otherwise might not hear. It also gives them the opportunity to test their newly learned skills on a 6-foot, 240-pound instructor.

"A lot of times when you go to a women's self-defense class, it's women that put it on," Kent said. "Instead of a woman grabbing them, they get a grown man grabbing them."

"It doesn't matter how little you are, how big you are, how slow you are, how old you are, you can defend yourself," he added.

Jeannie Nash, a self-defense instructor at the college who leads the course, said much of the course is mental and teaches women to recognize potential threats.

Whether attending because of a past incident or just to be prepared, the women believe they can now handle any potential danger more effectively than just two weeks ago.

Sharon Daubenmeyer of Gainesville had her own brush with danger just last month. While jogging in her neighborhood one afternoon, she came across several boys.

She recalled one boy saying, "Let's roll this old lady and get her money."

But before the group had a chance, Daubenmeyer ran toward them out of instinct. The group, in an apparent state of shock, left, however.

Looking back, though, Daubenmeyer questions her response to the situation.

"Maybe I need to re-evaluate here," she told herself. "I'm not young. I'm not as strong as I used to be. Yes, I can outrun them, but how long can I go?"

The experience was an eye opener for Daubenmeyer, so she registered for the defense class to better understand how to handle a similar situation.

Combine her aggressive nature and the skills she learned from the course, and Daubenmeyer may be capable of fending off an attacker, she said.

"It's renewed some of my skills," she said.

Other women, though, don't have a past experience, but wanted to be prepared if the situation ever arises.

Halle and Lindsey Castille are seniors at Flowery Branch High School but will soon be attending Brenau Women's College.

Because it is a women's college, the Castilles said it could be a target for a sexual predator.

"It's all girls, but you still want to be prepared," Halle Castille said.

Margaret Alexander of Gainesville was alarmed to learn of the high chance a woman will be a victim of a sexual assault during her lifetime.

The FBI estimates one in four women will be sexually assaulted during her life, and a quarter of college women have either been raped or suffered attempted rape.

"I didn't want to be a victim, so I won't be a victim," Alexander said. "They're giving me what I need mentally and physically where I can be able to handle myself."


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