Local Almost 40 turn out for CCSO Women’s Self-Defense Class | The Cullman Tribune


Almost 40 turn out for CCSO Women’s Self-Defense Class

Deputy Chad Whaley speaks at Thursday night's self-defense class. (Christy Perry for The Tribune)

CULLMAN - Almost 40 women on Thursday evening attended the first of a two-part self-defense class conducted by the Cullman County Sheriff's Office. Led by Deputy Chad Whaley, who has been teaching self-defense classes for more than 16 years, the course was based on the Equalizer Women’s Self-Defense Program, created by Cullman native Johnny Smith to prepare women for real world scenarios that may save their life in a dangerous situation.

The first class focused on avoiding becoming a victim. Participants were informed on the many ways they can avoid being an easy or soft target to would-be attackers. The second class, which will be held on Tuesday, July 31, will teach hands-on techniques if an attack does occur. The two themes that were prevalent throughout the first class were confidence and awareness.

Rape and sexual assault continue to be a tremendous concern and Whaley explained, “Rape isn’t about sex. It as an act of power over the victim.” He also insisted that blaming or shaming the victim needs to stop, adding, “A woman has a right to dress the way she wants and has the right to NOT be a victim.”

Rapists have many commonalities including: hostility towards women, dominating attitudes towards women, stereotyping women, and having unrealistic views of women that trigger anger when not met.

According to the training, four important tips to women on a date with someone new or while going out are: set the boundaries and expectations you have early, stay in a crowd and avoid being alone, avoid alcohol and drugs, and arrange your own transportation. These tips will reduce the risk of isolation, vulnerability and opportunity.

It is also important for women to know what to do if they are attacked.

  • The most important thing is to find a safe haven.
  • The next step can vary, but women need to find someone and talk. Preferably this would be 911 and law enforcement, but Whaley recognized that this can be very difficult after a traumatic event. Talk to a friend who can help or reach out to a rape crisis center for guidance but talk to someone.
  • As difficult as it may be, don’t clean up. Unfortunately, rape victims possess evidence on their bodies and to shower or clean up in any way can easily destroy that evidence.
  • Seek medical attention. Even if you don’t consider yourself injured, a medical examination is crucial. Write it down. A victim can remember important details immediately after an attack and although you might not feel comfortable talking, writing it down will provide law enforcement vital details.

There are simple recommendations to reduce the risk of your home becoming a target. It is recommended that deadbolts be installed, and doors locked at all times. Close the drapes and shades so criminals can’t see everything you own. Don’t leave ladders outside your home. Install peep holes or cameras to monitor who might be at your door. If someone you don’t know is at the door, DON’T open it.

Whaley stressed, “If it is 11 at night and you don’t know who is at your door, find a secure place in your home and call 911. Let a deputy come ask who they are or what they want. Don’t risk it.”

Trust your gut! Women’s intuition is real, and women should follow it.

Said Whaley, “If you come home and something doesn’t seem right, or something just seems off, don’t go in. Trust your gut. Call 911 and request a deputy to come check it out. Will we make fun of you later if everything is fine? Yes, probably, but who cares? It beats walking in to a strange man sitting on your couch. It's not worth the risk, and it’s what we are paid to do. I hear women say, ‘Well, I didn’t want to bother the police.’  You pay for our services. Call us. You aren’t bothering anyone.”

The program stresses the importance of situational awareness. As nice as most people want to think other people might be, the reality is bad people exist everywhere. Even in Cullman where crime is low, bad people are still here as Whaley pointed out, “The detention center next door is full of them.”

When out shopping, jogging in the park or doing everyday things, keep your head up and shoulders back. Whaley said a would-be bad guy is less likely to choose a victim who exhibits confidence and awareness.

Put the phone down!

A bad guy is far more likely to choose a victim who has her head down and is lost in her smartphone. If you must check your phone it is recommended that you stop, back up against a wall, and block anyone from approaching from behind.

In line with the dependency on cell phones is society’s obsession with social media.

Whaley said of Facebook, “It’s the best breeding ground for bad guys.”

He strongly recommends that users limit the information shared and stop giving bad guys a play-by-play of their whereabouts. By posting on Facebook that you are on the way to the beach for a week, bad guys can plan accordingly.

Whaley added, “Bad guys know when you left, when you got there, what you are wearing and what you ate. They know how long you will be gone because you told them on social media.” Whaley said to wait until you get home and post pictures and stories from your vacation. It's not worth the risk.

The class also discussed gun safety, travel safety tips, active shooters and other advice for many situations and scenarios. The class is free and recommended for all women. Many women brought their daughters. The second class is available to those who attended the first class. Whaley is happy to have two new officers recently certified in the Equalizer Women’s Self Defense Program who will assist in the hands-on exercises Tuesday night. The CCSO hopes to conduct two more sessions in August.

For those interested in future classes, email bwilliams@cullmansheriff.org. Those with questions can also email Whaley at cwhaley@ccbo.org. For further information, visit www.facebook.com/cullman.sheriff.

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