Self defense seminar for women held in honor crime victim’s awareness week
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
The AuSable Martial Arts Academy, River House Shelter, Inc. and Grayling Department of Public Safety collaborated on Saturday to empower women with more than punches and kicks.
A free women’s self defense seminar was held at the academy, located at 214 Huron Street, Grayling, on Saturday, April 13.
Over 40 women attended the event, which was held to mark crime victim’s awareness week.
Kim Scott, the executive director for the River House Shelter, Inc., said the agency receives most of its funding to help provide shelter for domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking victims.
“Anytime there is domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking, it’s always about power and control,” Scott said.
Scott said the threat or presence of a gun in a domestic violence case greatly increases the risk that a homicide may occur.
“Even though they are threats and you know it’s never going to happen these are not the types of things you want to test the theory on,” she said.
The shelter provides non-residential services such as support groups to promote healthy relationships and teaching people how to relate to one another. Groups are also available to help women who choose to be more aggressive in their relationships. There are also art expression groups to help people with their relationships and counseling.
Amanda Clough, the deputy chief for the Grayling Department of Public Safety, said law enforcement officers are there to help crime victims get the help they need and to get into counseling.
Victims are often young and vulnerable, who are victimized or assaulted by people they know.
“They slowly break you down, and when they do that, they take away your self esteem and they take away your confidence, and with that you are less likely to fight back,” Clough said.
The mental wounds can be more impactful on victims than physical wounds they sustain. Counseling and therapy groups help victims in their recovery.
“Those are the little things that can get you back to where you need to be,” Clough said.
Self defense tactics can be used as a tool to prevent crime. Clough, who has been a law enforcement officer for 14 years, said police are regularly trained in tactics to protect themselves and victims of crime. She urged the participants to practice the techniques they learned at the seminar.
“Without that continued training, you just don’t stay current,” Clough said.
Finally, Clough urged women to be aware of situations they are in and the people who are around when they are out in the community.
“Follow your gut instincts. If you have a bad feeling about something, chances are it’s not a good situation,” she said. “Call for help. Call 911. Seek out that store employee. Stay in numbers with your friends, so you’re not alone.”
Matt and Angie Morgan founded the AuSable Martial Arts Academy in May 2018.
A former police officer and armed services veteran who served in Iraq, Matt said students learn more than just the physical skills at the academy.
“Our mission in this school is to not just teach people how to punch and to kick. I’m not teaching street fighting,” Matt said. “We started this program here to help people grow, help people develop, help to build personal development skills, develop self confidence, and to help people communicate better.”
In November, the academy started its Chix With Kicks program to teach women self defense tactics, to build their confidence, and to allow them to network with each other.
Hailey Golzer, of Frederic, who participated in the seminar on Saturday, said she has had a keen interest in learning self defense techniques.
“I’ve always been interested in martial arts and kickboxing, so I just wanted to try it,” Golzer said. “Self defense is just a really important thing for everybody to learn. I just want to be prepared for every situation that I’m in.”
Emma Mertes, of Grayling, said she wanted to learn some of skills of the superheroes she admires and follows.
“I just want to be able to do some of the stuff they can do,” she said.
Mertes said the seminar gave her both a mental and physical fitness boost.
“It shows how strong I can be and that’s cool,” she said.