YORK COUNTY, PA.-- A little bit of self-defense knowledge could help protect you as every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. 91% of those victims are women.
These staggering statistics from the national crime victimization survey make it clear why some companies are creating technology to protect women, while some women choose to take part in self-defense training.
"He just wouldn't let go, and I took-- the look him in the eye, look him in the eye and say I'm not interested, and he just didn't get it." Stacey Walls was at a Pennsylvania music festival last fall, when she got separated from her friends.
"A guy just came up to me and was drunk and very pushy. As soon as I turned around, he grabbed me and they say trust your instincts."
"They" being the instructors at York Shotokan Karate and Mixed Martial Arts, with whom Stacey happened to take a self-defense course.
"I just kicked... Instinct took over and I just kicked and ran, because they said, if you can get away-- get away!"
Stacey had a similar incident happen a year prior to that festival, where a group of guys outnumbered her and her friends, the guys were being forceful. Luckily for Stacey, her guy friends came to her rescue that time. She says that situation and lack of confidence is what prompted her to take the self-defense class.
"It was eye-opening, I was a little intimidated, but excited just to see what techniques there are, and what's really out there," Stacey said.
Taylor Forrester has been practicing martial arts and helping teach self-defense for 13 years. She says those techniques are ones anybody, big or small can use to their advantage.
"You might seem like an easy target, but just having the right technique, you don't have to be strong... just having the right technique, and the right knowledge, you can take down anyone."
While technique is a large part of being able to defend against an attacker, Tony Abel the Sensei at York Shotokan, says mindset is key.
"Frame of mind is everything-- frame of mind is, are you timid? Are you showing that you are positive? And if you are going to engage it has to be balls to the wall."
Tony says when women take self-defense classes they often don't even recognize themselves because they are able to do things they never imagined they could do.
Forrester says, "If you go into anything with a weak state of mind, you're not gonna do so well."
Women can fall victim to the stigma that the female sex is more gentle and kind-- hurting someone is often something women aren't 100% comfortable with. Taylor says no matter what, you have to be serious about your life.
"I'm not going to be giggling and joking around, but I need to be serious and I need to attack someone, my life is at stake, and that's what I've been trained to do."
If you aren't trained or comfortable using self-defense, there is technology that can help you feel safe.
WiseWear, for example came out with a bracelet that sends a distress message to an emergency contact in your phone. That person will then get a message with your exact location, telling them where you are in distress.
"In the event something happens, you can just quickly-- boom, flip your wrist and call for help."
Dr. Wilmink created WiseWear bracelets in part because of the staggering statistics on women being sexually assaulted, he says data they looked at suggests almost half of those instances could be reduced if there is the presence of a bystander.
"So, we thought it would be really interesting if you can discretely call you friends, send a text message to 5 or 6 of your friends that know exactly where you are at, essentially telling them, 'I need a bystander' basically that will come to this exact spot, and boom... you have a non-lethal kind of solution, that could solve a lot of these problems."
He says these bracelets are the first fully fused bracelets that offer a sense of protection for women.
"Finally, a wearable that has a purpose...let's make it aesthetically appealing where someone would wear it even if it wasn't smart and yet it's for a life-saving kind of power to it."
Walls says she's on board for anything extra on top of her self-defense training that can make her feel safe and empowered.
"It doesn't scream like self-defense, it doesn't scream awkward-- it can fit any outfit."
Whether you are wearing the bracelet, have self-defense training or are carrying something else to warn off an attacker, one bit of advice was consistent...
"Don't be sticking your head in your phone and texting and walking and listening to music-- be aware of what's around you," Forrester says.
Tony reiterated how important awareness is, "be aware of your surroundings!"
The York Shotokan Mixed Martial Arts is holding a free self-defense class open to the public on April 30th from Noon to 2 at 3195 E. Prospect Road in York.
Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to attend as space is limited.
For more information on the free session, here is a link to the Shotokan's Facebook page.
WiseWear does have a men's line and they are introducing a children's line as early as this year. The bracelet acts as a health tracker as well. For more information, click here: https://wisewear.com/