“I’d rather you look crazy than be dead”: Self-defense class teaches students and raises money

Sarah Clifton, Staff Reporter

The University of Alabama’s Not On My Campus partnered with Her Campus Alabama to host a self-defense class in Wade Hall on Wednesday, Oct. 26, to educate students on self-defense tactics and support a statewide domestic violence shelter. 

The event cost $5 per ticket. All proceeds went to Turning Point, which is an Alabama-based organization that helps domestic violence and sexual assault survivors. 

Turning Point has been operating as a shelter for victims of domestic abuse since 1979. In 1992, they expanded their services to aid sexual assault victims. All services the organization offers, which include an Emergency Shelter, a 24-hour crisis line, counseling, support groups, legal advocacy and more, are free for victims and affected family members. 

During the event, Tanner Ryan, who is the coordinator of student recruitment for the UA College of Education and is Sexual Harassment and Rape Prevention certified, taught students principles of stress factors, assailant profiling, how to avoid dangerous situations and how to escape different grips and assaults.  

Students learned multiple methods to escape each type of assault or grip presented. Ryan said to the attendees while these techniques are useful and effective, they come with caveats. 

“Don’t think that every method is 100% effective 100% of the time,” Ryan said. “Knowing many methods is part of staying safe.” 

Attendees grouped up in pairs to practice techniques after Ryan demonstrated them with Madelyn Bryan, a senior majoring in psychology and NOMC’s director of external affairs.  

Ryan stressed the importance of practicing these skills outside of the event. 

“This hour-long crash course is not enough,” Ryan said. “Practice, practice, practice to make sure these skills work, because you don’t want to be in a situation and unsure what to do, because then it’s too late.” 

The class also addressed the importance of students maintaining a level of awareness of their surroundings and routines. 

“If you unlock your car while you’re still 100 feet away, or take the same routes home every day, or follow a set schedule, people who watch you can figure out a lot of things about you,” Ryan said. “Change up your routine; take the scenic route home. Go randomly visit a friend for a while on your way back from class. Don’t do the same things every day, it opens you up to being a target.” 

Bryan said that these skills are crucial to learn for any woman on the University’s campus. 

“As college students, we are by ourselves a lot of the time and it’s many people’s first time being independent,” Bryan said. “Whether you’re walking on the strip at night or back from class, you never know what could happen, so it’s good to have these vital life skills that you wouldn’t be taught otherwise.” 

Kaelyn Thurmond, a freshman majoring in biology, said that though she hasn’t felt particularly unsafe on campus yet, she came to the event to gain information about how she can better protect herself on a campus that is too lenient on serious issues. 

“Tolerance towards things like sexual assault on this campus is kind of ridiculous,” Thurmond said. “I think we should take steps to make sure that women feel safer, and this will definitely help me or others.” 

To support victims of sexual assault and domestic abuse, you can donate to Turning Point directly here.