In response to recent concerns about the threat of sexual assault near Georgetown, Eric Mackie (COL ’11) and Ahmad Kerr (COL ’10) hosted a self-defense demonstration in Alumni Square on Oct. 20 to show how women can stay safe at Georgetown.

“In response to the sexual assault that happened earlier this year, and some recent campus violence that has been going on, I contacted the Women’s Center and [the] GU Health Education Center to come and give people tips on things they can do to protect themselves,” Mackie said.

A female student was sexually assaulted in her Village A apartment on Sept. 1.

Kerr said he shared Mackie’s goal.

“If you’ve been getting the same e-mails that I have, you know there is a lot of nonsense going on and I feel like females should be able to protect themselves from anybody on the streets or on campus,” said Kerr, a black belt in taekwondo.

ackie and Kerr planned the self-defense class to teach women some basic techniques to fend off attackers. Kerr demonstrated four moves a woman can perform when she is attacked in the hand, shoulder, mouth or neck.

“I feel that a lot of people do the opposite of what you actually should be doing. So [our goal is] just to promote awareness on how to really protect yourself,” Kerr said.

ackie, Kerr and the Women’s Center gave advice on how to stay safe on campus. The most important safety measure is to always remain aware of one’s surroundings, Kerr said.

Kerr also said that one should always walk in groups or contact SafeRides when walking alone. When walking alone is unavoidable, remain alert – a person who seems to be distracted is more likely to be a victim of assault, Kerr said.

“Number one: Don’t panic,” Kerr said when asked what women with little or no self-defense training could do during an attack. “Number two: Don’t think like a victim, because if you think like a victim, you will end up being a victim. You want to be sure of yourself and be confident in what you can do. Face your attacker head-on, because he will be caught off-guard. Don’t be afraid to scream and yell because again it will catch your opponent off-guard – and also let everyone around you know that you’re in trouble.”

Daniella Furman (COL ’11) said she was grateful that Kerr and Mackie took the initiative to educate her on self-defense strategies.

“I’m really excited about the fact that I have some things in my knowledge and moves I could try if I am attacked. . Before, I probably would’ve acted like a victim,” Furman said. “Now that I’ve had a little sample, I’m really excited about what I can do to learn more about being proactive. It was a really great experience, and I am glad I came out.”

Both Kerr and Mackie stressed that the techniques are to be used for self-defense only.

“The point of [self-defense] isn’t to see if you can fight your attacker or beat them up because they tried to attack you,” Kerr said. “You are just ensuring your own protection so you’re doing what you need to do to save yourself, and if you can, in most cases you need to flee. Don’t stay there and fight.”

Jared Watkins (COL ’11), a founder of GU Men Creating Change, said men also play a large role in the healing process of the victims on campus.

“If we recognize that sexual assault is an issue on our campus that is much more pervasive than the . rapes [by a stranger] we get e-mails about, we can hopefully create an environment more supportive of survivors who report their sexual assault,” Watkins said. “I felt it was important to attend the self-defense training because I wanted to emphasize that there are student groups on campus working on the issue of sexual assault from many different angles.”

Jen Schweer, a sexual assault and health issues coordinator at Health Education Services, said it is important to alert someone after an assault has occurred.

“After an assault, it’s important for a survivor to be able to find a safe place to get information on resources, options and next steps. It’s important to make sure [he or she] is safe and receives medical care if needed, in addition to information on legal options, counseling, academic relief, et cetera,” Schweer said in an e-mail. “Telling a trusted friend, family member, counselor [or] member of the clergy . can be critically important in making sure there is a support system in place and focused on working with the survivor on [his or her] healing.”

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