SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Sexual assault is a crime that can have long-lasting consequences—both physical and mental. This past weekend, several women took part in a free self-defense seminar hosted by the Rape Crisis Center and Fit to Fight Georgia to learn skills to fend off an attacker.
These women are learning skills that could save them if ever faced with a threatening situation.
"I'm picking you up and putting you over my shoulder and carrying you away somewhere. Move be a hard target."
Todd Marshburn is demonstrating what to do if faced with a situation where someone tries to get their hands on you—possibly with the intention of a sexual assault.
"I hope to be able to offer them some skill so they would be able to fight back against a would-be attacker. I also hope to be able to offer them a few self-defense techniques so that if they ever find themselves in a situation where they are vulnerable at least and can't immediately fight back, at least they can get back to a position where they can," Mashburn said.
"I want to confront the problem head-on which means all ten toes are facing my problem. Ok", Mashburn tells the group. He's an instructor with Fit to Fight Georgia— he's trained in a brand of self-defense rooted in the Israeli martial art of Krav Maga.
"I never want to have my body in between this portion of her body. Does that make sense? Doesn't matter if it is left side or right side, but I want to stay outside her elbows," he demonstrates.
This defense seminar is one of several that the Rape Crisis center has planned to keep women safe. It's free thanks to funding from the United Way.
"Rape is never the fault of the victim, however, there are high-risk behaviors that we often engage in and becoming cognizant of those high-risk behaviors," said Rape Crisis Center Director Kesha Gibson-Carter.
Becoming proficient in self-defense is one skill that can help you avoid sexual assault.
But there are other things to keep in mind as well. Avoid hazardous situations, such as being under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
You should also be assertive and communicate limits clearly. If someone starts to cross the line, tell them firmly and early.
Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Chart a course where you are going. Be aware of people around you.
Use the buddy system and pick good friends.
Defense experts say except in certain situations where the assailant has a weapon, it's almost always best to put up a fight and never let yourself be taken to a secondary location.
"So, I think it's one of those things that everyone needs to know to defend themselves to some degree, so at least if they are ever encountered with that at least they can go home safe to their loved ones," Mashburn said.