Self defense against sexual assaults

Every two minutes someone is sexually assaulted in the U.S., according to the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network. Even in small communities like Fort Collins.

“Sexual assaults are prevalent in any community anywhere in the United States,” said Sharolyn Eitenbichler, instructor at Oriental Moo-Do School of Colorado.infog


Prevention against sexual assaults begins with self defense training.

“I think everybody should learn self defense, regardless of a person’s sex (or) age,” said Michael Crist, instructor at Z-Ultimate Self Defense Studios.

Learning self defense equips a person with the necessary tools to physically protect themselves in the event of a confrontation, but physical confrontation should be considered as a last resort.

“It’s not the actual physical skills that is important in preventing sexual assault,” said Charles Orchard, instructor at Fort Collins Self Defense. “You need to have the whole gamut of skills, non-verbal skills, verbal skills to back somebody off, and then you need to have the physical skills to back up everything else.”

According to Crist, if a person can walk with confidence, use common sense, avoid threatening situations, be aware of their surroundings and trust their instincts than physical confrontation can be avoided.

When that isn’t enough, self defense plays a vital role.

“(Self defense) is kind of like an insurance policy, like car insurance or health insurance, you most likely will never need it,” Crist said. “It’s better to have it and not need it then if something arises at some point in time and you find yourself in a situation where you need the training to know how to handle that particular situation.”

Before a situation occurs, an assailant will determine whether someone could be a potential victim.

“The first step is to interview from a distance, so they watch and observe the person, and see if they’re going to appear to be an easy target,” Orchard said. “After that, maybe not always, there maybe a verbal interview… they talk to them just to see how they react.”

According to Orchard, these two steps happen regardless of the type of attack, whether it be a sexual assault or a robbery.


“If they fail those two, then the physical assault will more likely take place,” Orchard said.

At this point, it’s vital to know how to properly react. According to Eitenbichler, some people will have a passive response, where the person will act timid and just stand there. Some people have an aggressive response, where the person will act angry and confrontational.

Eitenbichler said neither of those are adequate responses.

“A response where the individual is able to tactfully guide the person away from them, keep their head up, look them in the eyes, and say no, and have the confidence to do that — that is being assertive, that is setting boundaries,” Eitenbichler said.

Setting boundaries is a large part of learning self defense — it’s not only about physical preparation, but also about teaching how to avoid threatening situations.

According to Crist, women have a higher attendance in self defense classes because statistically women are attacked more than men. There are classes geared specifically to females to learn how to ward off attacks.

“Women should take self defense, because ultimately their safety boils down to them. There the ones they have to depend on for their own safety, not the police, not a fireman, not a husband, not a brother, not a friend, not anybody else,” Crist said.

Regardless of gender, a sexual assault can happen to anyone.

“When it happens, they’re probably the only ones there and they have to be able to protect themselves,” Crist said.

Self defense experts agree that everyone should learn how to protect themselves.

“In college (self defense) should be mandatory,” said Seth Skyes, instructor at Sykes Family Martial Arts. “I think it needs to be a course.”

Collegian Senior Reporter Lawrence Lam can be reached at