Defend Yourself

by Erin Moy

I honestly thought my mother was overly paranoid when, last winter break, I was forced to take private self defense classes with my sister. At this point I had already been supplied with Mace on my keychain, the knowledge that alleys and nights don’t mix, and the idea that if shady characters are walking down a street, I should cross immediately. Though those multiple two hour sessions seemed completely unreasonable to me at the time, I must admit (however hesitantly) that my mother may have been right.

The recent murder of a 17-year-old Oakwood student named Lily Burke was one of those news stories that struck incredibly close to home for me. Maybe it was the similarity in the age or the close proximity, but no one could ignore the obvious tragedy in the story. Here was a 17-year-old girl who was, just like anyone of us here at 3700 Coldwater Canyon, intelligent with an incredibly bright future ahead of her. Her murder was a random act of violence, an unfortunate accident—whatever idiomatic expression that is commonly used in these types of circumstances; her murder was also something that could happen to any one of us.

Now I’m not saying that we should turn into complete shut-ins with paranoia issues, but I do wish that we had more tools with which to protect ourselves. At Marlborough, students are required to take a class called Emergency Preparedness and Water Safety as a graduation requirement and for a P.E. Credit, giving their young women tools to protect themselves. Though the class isn’t specifically geared towards self-defense, the idea of being prepared for anything is always a smart idea.

Taking a self-defense class was not, by any means, one of the highlights of my life. I may not remember all the moves I learned or the statistics about (but not limited to) date rape, murder and attacks, but I do remember some of it. I remember that studies have shown that getting in the car with your attacker significantly lowers your chance of survival, that using your fingernails is surprisingly effective, that screaming is actually productive and that most women are attacked by people they know, not strangers. What I learned in my self-defense classes was much more than poorly executed self-defense moves; I learned the importance of a general self defense education which included facts that I would otherwise never learn.

Preparing ourselves against attackers is only one preventative measure. Ultimately, there is no 100-percent guarantee that we will be able to successfully fend one off, but we should all take advantage of the opportunity to become stronger, more able individuals.