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According to www.rapecrisisonline. org: one out of every six American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime and about nine out of ten rape victims are female. One out of every 33 American men has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in his lifetime. Ages 12-34 are the highest risk years. Girls ages 16-19 are four times more likely than the general population to be victims of sexual assault.

Adding to the outrage of such a horrific event, almost 2/3 of sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim and only about 6 percent of rapists ever serve a day in jail.

On Saturday, March 19, the Rape Crisis Volunteers of Cumberland County and Musha Dojo are offering a free women’s self-defense class. According to Ze Suratt-II, the victim’s advocate and volunteer coordinator, “The main purpose is to help empower women so that they can feel more safe when they are out and about. They won’t be learning how to fight per se, but they will be learning some key strike moves.”

She added that the instructor “is very passionate about helping women to prevent, as much as possible, an attack — by teaching about the somewhat small things they can do that would possibly give them those few valuable seconds or minutes to scream out loudly or run.”

The class is free, and runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Space is limited though. Participants should be at least 15 since the material will be sensitive. Physically impaired women are especially encouraged to attend. Call 485-7273 to make a reservation. Space is limited, however, there will be more self-defense classes offered on April 23 and July 19 as well.

While preventive measures are always a good thing, the Rape Crisis Volunteers of Cumberland County are there to help when the damage has already been done. They take calls from victims of sexual assault, rape or domestic violence and provide them with local resources and help guide them through the different stages of reporting(if a victim chooses to report the crime) and healing. 

“There are a lot of resources available that women are not aware of,” said Suratt-II “We try to give them all the information that we can about these resources so that they can make decisions about the things they may want to do next. We also advocate for victims.”

That includes going to the hospital with them after an attack, should the victim choose to go, and helping them through the hospital exam and dealing with the police by letting the victim know what is going to be happening and how it is going to happen as well as what courses of action are available. T

he support does not stop there. The Rape Crisis Volunteers will go with a victim to court proceed03-16-11-self-defense-classes.gifings too. Surrat-II pointed out that reliving their experiences in the court room is also a very traumatic time.

While the goal is to help in healing and recovering from such traumatic events, the Rape Crisis Volunteers are very firm in their belief that each person must feel safe and confident in how they choose to handle their situation.

“It is our job to let them know what is available and let them make that decision (whether or not to report the crime) themselves. We are not going to tell a victim what they should or shouldn’t do. We want them to be able to make their own decision. It is important that we keep it that way,” said Surrat-II.

“When we do speak with victims we do try to suggest and recommend that they go for counseling because we do believe in counseling being a very healing tool for recovery.”

The organization is always looking for kind hearted and compassionate volunteers and they hold training sessions quarterly. They next rape sensitivity training sessions will be held May 14 and 21. Call 485-7273 to find out how you can be a part of the healing. 

PHOTO: On Saturday, March 19, the Rape Crisis Volunteers of Cumberland County and Musha Dojo are offering a free women’s self-defense class.

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