Every semester Officer Amanda Worley instructs a Self-Defense for Women course that teaches women verbal confrontation skills, safety tactics and physical techniques to defend and protect themselves.
“This class teaches confidence and empowerment,” Worley said. “I think a lot of times young women think they have, but don’t have it. They put on a front. I think deep down it gives people confidence and empowerment.”
Worley wants to put an end to sexual assault on college campuses. Worley has worked at the Department of Public Safety at ETSU for almost 10 years. She is also an instructor for the Rape Aggression Defense program.
Many ETSU students, including senior Jordan Armstrong, find these courses helpful.
“I am a criminal justice major, and I’m not technically going into law enforcement, but it is a possible career path for me,” Armstrong said. “With that being said, I would like a way of protecting myself besides from just having a weapon. And I really think it’s important especially for women in college to protect ourselves efficiently.”
The United States Department of Justice defines sexual assault as any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. This includes forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling and attempted rape.
Many young women choose to carry around pepper spray for protection. Pepper spray is an irritating substance which is supposed to burn the eyes, causing temporary blindness. If inhaled, it causes choking and shortness of breath.
“I think it [pepper spray] should be used as a backup,” Worley said. “That it shouldn’t be your only source of defense. As any weapon, and that’s what that is, don’t just buy it to have it. Know how to use it. Read the directions. Practice with it. Know what it does. Study it. Don’t just go get it to have it.”
ETSU’s Counseling Center reports that an estimate of 20 percent to 25 percent of college women are sexually assaulted during their college career. An estimate of 75 percent of these sexual assaults include alcohol.
“It’s always crazy to hear the sexual assault rates and percentages of rapes,” Armstrong said. “It’s like a back-to-reality type of moment, but I really didn’t think that they would teach us to break wrists and noses and stuff like that. I thought it was going to be minimal, evasive stuff. Like some kind of technique just to get you away, not to actually cause damage.”
In sexual assault cases reported by college women, 85 percent to 90 percent of assaults are perpetrated by someone they know. According to the National Institute of Justice, these cases usually occur at the survivor or the perpetrator’s home or at a party.
“Those situations are always a lot harder, because we’ve already let them in our bubble and what happens is our mind starts playing tricks on us,” said Worley about sexual assault survivors knowing their perpetrator. “Our mind tries to tell us to second-guess ourselves so you have to trust your gut. And that’s really hard.”
Self-Defense for Women will be taught by Worley in the spring semester on Tuesdays from 4 to 5:50 pm. Worley also plans to teach a class to the Panhellenic Women at ETSU on March 2 to teach sorority women to protect themselves during spring break.
Worley will also teach a class at the Center for Physical Activity March 30, April 6 and April 13 from 5 to 9 p.m. in the multi-purpose room. Students can register for the class by going on to the ETSU Public Safety page and clicking on the RAD link.
“I would absolutely suggest this class to others,” Armstrong said. “Amanda Worley, I mean she’s phenomenal and the R.A.D. program is awesome. Like I said earlier, being college women we need to know how to protect ourselves, because it (sexual assault) happens often whether we hear about it or not. It can be in broad daylight or it could be at night and without effectively being able to protect yourself, you’re just another victim. And why be a victim when you can stop it?”