SPECIAL REPORT: Women’s Self Defense

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As women, we like to think of ourselves as kind, caring, generous and approachable. But at what point does our kindness become our downfall? And how do we assert ourselves while coming off with confidence and not uncertainty? I set out to find the answers after a lot of the stories we air here on 7News made me question how I would react.

In surveillance tapes from September at the Moundsville Walmart, a man is seen walking to a self checkout line with a woman. She pays for his item, then gives him cash back. According to police the man, who was eventually arrested in Belmont County, approaches mostly females, is insistent, invades space, and intimidates.

Now imagine yourself in that woman’s shoes. What would you have done if he asked you to pay for his item and for cash back? Many of us don’t prepare ourselves for a moment like that. 

Former police officer Michelle Molnar has seen plenty of crimes committed against women in her days patrolling the streets in Ohio. 

I set out to find out how women can protect themselves, and learned some valuable information along the way. 

First, I took a mini self-defense course with Lieutenant Kevin Kettler with the Wheeling Police Department. He’s been teaching rape prevention and defense for about four years.

He showed me a basic move, using your toe area or the inside of the foot to strike an attacker in the nerve cluster that runs down the front of the foot. He demonstrated the move, where an attacker may grab a woman by the shoulders. If she grabs on to him, she can take her toe or the inside of her foot to strike the nerve, then deliver a knee strike to the gut.

It’s true that an attack can happen anywhere, but Kettler says a majority of the time, women know the suspect. Bars are one of the most common places that a predator can get to know their victim. Kettler calls it a “target rich environment” – a place where people are intoxicated and can easily let their defenses down. 

Statistics show that six out of ten rapes take place in someone’s home or residence, and only about one in 12 attacks would happen in ‘darker’ place like a parking garage.

Another thing that makes women vulnerable is a lack of attention to her surroundings. “Perpetrators are now getting lazier. They don’t want to fight. They just want to do their damage and go,” Molnar said. 

“Perpetrators are now getting lazier. They don’t want to fight. They just want to do their damage and go,” Kettler added.

Confidence also plays a big role in how a predator may view a woman. Michelle said walking around with your head up and looking someone in the eye can send them walking away, when you could have been a victim.

Michelle’s salon, Five Star Spray Tan in Elm Grove, hosts something called “Safe and Sassy Saturday” on the first weekend each month. Women are invited to come in between noon and 4 p.m. to check out the Damsel in Defense products she sells and test them out to feel their power. 

“You can’t wait for your husband to come home and take care of you, you can’t wait for the guy walking down the street to take care of you, because most people, they don’t want to be bothered. They don’t want to get involved,” she said. 

Lieutenant Kettler offers a number of tips to women, most importantly: pay attention to your surroundings. If you’re walking to your car, have your keys and pepper spray (if you use it) handy. Carry yourself with your head high, and always listen to your intuition. 

“If you start getting clues or something starts telling you ‘I shouldn’t do this’ you should probably listen to it. That inner voice that tells you that you’re being put in a dangerous situation,” Kettler said. 

Kettler is willing to teach free classes to any groups of women who want to learn self-defense. He has a 45 minute power point presentation, then does a hands-on demonstration. If you are interested, call the Wheeling Police Department at 304-234-3664. 

Michelle’s salon is located at 40 Junior Avenue in Wheeling, and her next Safe and Sassy Saturday will be held on November 5.

You can find more details on her Facebook page. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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