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Fight like a girl: Self-defense course at Cumming Library empowers women
Self-defense
Above, women learn how to strike an attacker at a class held by the sheriff’s office at the Cumming Library on Wednesday. - photo by Isabel Hughes

“Call 911!” one woman yelled, kicking her attacker’s shins. Another lunged at her aggressor, shoving her elbow into his ribs.

As each woman stepped forward, the usually quiet library meeting room filled with shouts — some angry, others excited, still some timid.

Though they were not truly under attack and 911 personnel was in the room with them, the women and teens who attended the Forysth County Sheriff’s Office’s self-defense class Wednesday at the Cumming Library had an empowered spark about them, each more confident than she was when she first stepped into the room earlier in the evening.

4 self-defense moves every women should know

  1. Palm heel strike (open hand strike): Instead of making a fist, strike with the base of the hand, fingers held back. This can deliver a strong blow without hurting the wrist or breaking any knuckles
  2. Elbow strike: A strike with the point of the elbow, most effective when used against an attacker’s ribs
  3. Knee strike: This essentially turns the knee into a battering ram and can be most painful in the groin area for males
  4. Kick: Shins and upper outer thighs are very susceptible to kicks, especially when the defender uses the side of the foot to stomp on the attacker’s shin.

“We’re not doing this to scare you,” said Cpl. Page Cash, an instructor. “We live in the safest county in Georgia. We’re doing this because you’ve just got to know how to protect yourselves.”

The class was the first of its summer self-defense series, which are free to females ages 13 and up.

The courses, which last between one and two hours, are intended to provide women with information, tools and resources, as well as commonsense techniques, to better prepare themselves should they come under attack.

“These men — these animals — already know what they’re going to do to [harm] you, and they know how they’re going to do it,” Cash said. “They’re just looking for the opportunity.”

That opportunity could be anywhere, she added, from an empty parking lot at night to the Big Creek Greenway in midday.

“Pay attention,” said Deputy Jenny Belafi, another instructor. “[When you’re driving], look in your rear-view mirror occasionally. When you see a car and you change lanes and it changes lanes, and you change lanes and it changes lanes again, and you turn off and it turns off and it just keeps following you no matter where you go, don’t go home.

“What we want you to do is call 911 and say, ‘Hey, I’ve got this guy following me for miles.’ What’s going to happen is we’re going to send a whole fleet of police cars and we’re going to find him and pull him over, which gives you time to go home.”

Self-defense
Cpl. Page Cash demonstrates techniques in facing an attacker. - photo by Isabel Hughes
Though it may seem like a movie scene, Belafi said that scenario happened recently to a co-worker.

“She said she was pulling out and a gentleman, she thought, waved her out, so she waved to him, ‘Thanks for letting me out in 5 o’clock traffic,’” Belafi said. “She lives in Buford, almost to Hall County, and this gentleman followed her all the way to her house.

“Unfortunately, she didn’t think about it because she didn’t play the ‘what if?’ game in her head, and she went straight to her house. She pulled into the driveway and he stopped at the end of her driveway and looked at her, drove past her house, turned around and came back, looked at her, turned around and came back again and looked at her. Four times he went past her house.”

Though the man ultimately did not harm the woman, Belafi said situations like that prove anyone can be targeted.

“They’re not there to sell Bibles, folks,” she said. “They’re there for a reason. Pay attention.”