Rachel Laughlin

Associate Arts and Culture Editor

Following the successes of Pride Week and Pride fest earlier this semester, the Gender and Sexuality Alliance confronted a negative aspect of the spectrum: the increased risk of being a victim of sexual violence. While Millersville University is one of the highest-ranking campus in terms of safety, the Alliance wanted to do more to prevent harmful experiences by building self-confidence in its members, so they contacted the Martial Arts Club. Together, the Martial Arts Club and the Gender and Sexuality Alliance held the first self-defense seminar of the fall semester on Oct. 21st.

 There, members of the Alliance were taught elements of self-defense including: falls, punches and jabs, the ‘friendly handshake’, kicks, and blocks. Instructor Lillian, ‘Lillie’ Shaw also gave advice for how to avoid dangerous situations and non-violent options for preventing them. One favorite is called “Keep on Swimming” where potential victims are encouraged to keep walking or keep trying to get out of unsafe environments or situations and not freeze in panic. Another is getting loud, where students are encouraged to use their voice if attackers persist. Phrases like “back off” and “leave me alone” are useful since it can draw the attention of passersby and police presence. Finally, Shaw demonstrated tools and accessories that students can arm themselves with like pepper spray, rings of keys, and self-defense jewelry. Additionally, students were informed about apps like LiveSafe, which presents electronic options of contacting help in the case of an escalating situation. Shaw commented “I think emphasizing the general importance of learning self-defense helped to motivate others to really remember what was taught in class.”

And the education is important! The CDC states that “More than 1 in 3 women and nearly 1 in 4 men experience sexual violence involving physical contact during their lifetime”, and if those numbers aren’t intimidating enough, they escalate when considering individuals from the LGBTQ+ community, where “Approximately 1 in 8 lesbian women (13%), nearly half of bisexual women (46%), and 1 in 6 heterosexual women (17%) have been raped in their lifetime.” Preventing such incidents is what both the Martial Arts Club and the Gender and Sexuality Alliance strive to do by giving students the tools and self-confidence to handle potentially dangerous or violent circumstances. Instructor Shaw wishes she could do more. When asked what else she would include in her classes, she replied with “defending against punches for sure.”

 Interested in hosting a self-defense seminar for your organization? Contact the Martial Arts Club on their Get Involved Page, or email Secretary Lillian Shaw, leshaw1@millersville.edu or Vice President Kyle Smith, kbsmith2@millersville.edu for more information.