See Jane Fight: Don't Be a Victim, Protect Yourself
Think of five women in your life. According to statistics, one of them will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime.
"Women are a target because they're women. We live in a society where there is gender-based violence, and unfortunately, the majority of women who get attacked are attacked by men they know," Dr. Martha McCaughey, from Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, said.
For more than 20 years McCaughey has researched this cultural problem and looked for ways to prevent it.
"We have countless examples on our blog and other places of people making recommendation for how to transform our rape culture, mainly on campuses but also everywhere else and they all too rarely mention self-defense, when self-defense is the one thing we have evidence for," McCaughey said.
"Even women that were really good at a lot of other things realized that our society had never taught them to defend their bodily boundaries - to have a sense of entitlement about their bodily boundaries and to be unapologetically willing to aggressively defend themselves if somebody was going to assault them," she said.
Bad Brass Women
Jessica Abbott started the Bad Brass Women gun club last year to teach women how to protect themselves.
"You're owning a firearm to be prepared. You're only having it so that in the event that the worst happens, you have a solution," Abbott said.
Abbott started her club because the "worst" happened to her.
"I was driving to get groceries. I was in the turn lane to go into a grocery store. Basically a vehicle boxed me in, the gentleman got out of the car and decided he was going to take my vehicle," Abbott recalled.
"He started banging on the windows and swearing at me and he was like, 'Get out of your car,'" she said. "I reached for my phone and of course it was dead because when something goes wrong everything goes wrong. I didn't have a weapon on me; I was just by myself."
Abbott escaped unharmed and she never wants any other woman to face a potential attack with that helpless feeling.
At the Badd Brass Women's monthly meetings, certified instructors work with the women to teach them to properly handle and fire a gun.
"We've really accomplished this idea that this could be an inexpensive hobby that could save your life one day," Abbott said.
Don't Panic, Self Defend
But a firearm isn't always available, so it's important for a woman to know how to defend herself in a one-on-one situation.
"It's about having more options and thinking of yourself as somebody who's worth protecting and who's worth taking seriously," McCaughey said.
Linxx Academy in Virginia Beach teaches Gracie Jiu Jitsu. The goal: use leverage, technique and timing to defeat a bigger, stronger opponent.
Linxx student, Elian Daher, wanted to learn how to defend herself after a stalking incident 6 years ago.
"I was coming out of the mall at night; it was dark outside and basically someone was following me. I didn't notice this person until he was really close. I was getting closer to the car, trying to open the door and all of the sudden I see this guy right behind me. Right then I panicked," Daher recalled.
A mall security guard drove by and spooked Daher's attacker, but that moment changed her.
"I know that God is our first protector and I trust in that completely, but also he gave us the ability to defend ourselves. I didn't know what to do; I didn't know how to move how to react. Martial arts gave me the ability to think faster and be able to react faster," Daher said. "I've trained hard and today I'm not a victim anymore."
"It takes three ingredients for sexual assault or any assault to happen," Frank Cucci, the founder of Linxx Academy of Martial Arts, said. "One, a bad guy, a sexual predator or whoever the bad guy is. Two, a potential victim. And three, the right venue."
With the right skills, women can take at least one of those ingredients away. Self-defense training can be learned by women of all ages, shapes, sizes and physical abilities and it's a skill that could save your life.