April 2012

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live on the move Serious Business By Sarah DeRoo On a rainy Th ursday night, I'm sitting inside Gordon Commons on the UW- Madison campus, plotting my escape. My ponytail is locked in the tight grip of an attacker, and I've got to fi nd my way out. I grab my ponytail over my attacker's Finding a new strength in Chimera hands, spin, and launch a few front-snap kicks while shouting, "No!" in as deep a voice as I can muster. Th is is Chimera, a self-defense program created to be your escape plan. Offered through Dane County's Rape Crisis Center, the point of this level one Chimera course isn't to be a martial arts-style class. Instead, the great- er goal is to teach non-physical techniques to prevent an attack, while offering physical moves to defend yourself if needed. We had started two days ear- Where to go: Rape Crisis Center offers Chimera classes throughout the year, including specialty classes for teens, mother- and-daughter groups, and women lier, as a small group gathered with our instructor Jamie De- Ruyter. We began easy enough, chatting about assault statistics and dispelling myths (for instance, most assaults in Wisconsin are not by strangers, but by acquaintances). For each scary story, DeRuyter also had tales of success and how women used simple methods to prevent assaults. Th en we were ready for our fi rst lesson: Shouting. Standing in a circle, DeRuyter prompted us. Don't shout like you're scared, lower your voice, give a command and put some force behind it. It felt silly— and that was the point. If you can't shout confi dently here, will you be able to when you're scared? The Dish on Chimera What to expect: While Chimera does teach you physical self-defense techniques, much of the beginner class is centered around verbal assertiveness, quick-thinking and confi dence. What to wear: Reach for loose-fi tting, comfortable clothes (think yoga pants) that allow you to move. You'll be taking your shoes and jewelry off when practicing defensive moves. How you'll feel: Your fi rst lessons in shouting may be awkward. But you won't walk out with the same attitude you had walking in—and that's a good thing. How you can fi nd support: If you or anyone you know needs support, counseling, legal or medical advice relating to an assault, visit or call the crisis line at (608) 251-7273. over 60. This month, Madison College is offering a self-defense class taught by law enforcement instructors. Many area martial arts studios also offer classes throughout the year. physical moves, including kicks, palm strikes and ways to escape someone's grip. Th ey were simple exercises that partici- pants of any fi tness level would be able to follow. Despite the physical aspect, Chimera From there we tackled (literally) the proved to be as much a mental exercise and DeRuyter made sure to send us out the door more aware of how even telling someone they're standing too close can be empow- ering enough to protect against threats. most strangers I cross paths with, it was a wake-up call for how small changes in mannerisms can make a big difference. And from here on out, I know I'll be talk- ing assertively, walking assertively and feeling more confi dent to stand my ground wherever I go. For someone like me, who smiles at April marks Sexual Assault Awareness Month. To show your support at a number of area events visit 16 BRAVA Magazine April 2012 Photo by Shanna Wolf

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