ROCHELLE Buckley was in a park after her second self defence class when a man stopped, offered her a lift and started getting out of his car.
“I turned around to face him, stood in the defence position we’d been taught and said ‘If you take one step closer towards me, I will hurt you and I will hurt you badly’,” Ms Buckley said.
“I was not expecting something like that [approach] to happen – not so soon, anyway.”
Hunter women are turning to self defence classes to learn how to protect themselves against – and regain their sense of strength after leaving – violence.
Read more: 11 Hunter females report assault every day
Secret Strength Self Defence instructor Nissa Lee Phillips – who has sold out two mother and daughter classes and is taking bookings for a third at Newcastle Aikido on July 22 – said she had not seen the current level of interest in self defence in more than 10 years.
“There’s a lot of fear in the community and self defence is very topical,” Ms Phillips said.
“Some parents said their teenagers said they had recently been approached by a man and wanted practical advice about what to do.”
Ms Phillips said the prevention-focused classes aimed to build confidence and self esteem as well as develop skills and “strategic safety tools” regarding how to get out of basic grabs and attacks, deliver simple manoeuvres and use their voices loudly.
The classes also cover situational awareness, boundary setting, psychological self defence, everyday safety tips, assertive communication and listening to their inner voice.
Ms Phillips said while she aimed to help participants feel more empowered, aware and alert, it was not the sole responsibility of women to keep themselves safe.
“Self defence is not the answer, it’s an acute response to the situation while we look at chronic issues,” Ms Phillips said.
“This is part of a bigger campaign to interrupt this cycle of violence and work out how to keep perpetrators accountable.
“We’ve reached a tipping point and it’s been refreshing to see the onus shifting from victim blaming.
“Eurydice Dixon was texting someone on the way home, she practised safe behaviours and it still happened, because that’s not actually the problem.
“The girl in Adamstown was walking to school during the day with other kids around.
“Let’s have a public conversation with men, our fathers, elders and community members about how we stop this.
“Let’s use this momentum to create social change.
“This isn’t about saying don’t get raped, it’s about saying don’t rape.”
Meanwhile charity Got Your Back Sista has invited women interested in its Stand Tall classes to attend its introduction session, at Westfield Kotara’s rooftop from 9.15am on July 14.
Charity founder Melissa Histon said the classes were offered in a six-week package at its Tighes Hill premises, Village HQ.
She said most of the current participants had experienced an abusive relationship during their life, although there have also been classes offered for mothers and daughters.
“We want to help women feel empowered and strong,” Ms Histon said.
“The course teaches women how to protect themselves and what to do if they are threatened, grabbed or assaulted, or their personal space is encroached.
“A couple of women have had to use what they’ve learned.
“It’s also about the energy you give off in the world, to be able to walk with your shoulders back, look people in the eye and say ‘I’m here, I’m confident’.”
Got Your Back Sista will host a half time “activation” at the Knights’ July 21 home game to raise awareness of domestic violence.