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Oasis Center to offer self-defense classes Thursday

By Matthew Muhm
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday Apr. 30, 2002

Women will be able to take advantage of free self-defense classes later this week, an option that is being made available in response to the recent string of sexual assaults on campus, UA officials said.

The goal of the classes, which will be held Thursday, is to teach students, faculty and staff basic self-defense moves they can use in the event of an attack, said Irene Anderson, director of the Oasis Center for Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence.

The classes will focus on teaching women the power of the body and mind in preventing attacks, Anderson said.

She said the recent attacks, which are considered „stranger assaultsš because the victim does not know the attacker, are the least-common sort of sexual assault.

„The vast majority (of assaults) are perpetrated by men (the victims) are acquainted with,š she said. „It‚s out of the norm. We‚re at far greater risk to be assaulted by someone we trust.š

Anderson said that for this reason, Oasis has not focused on educating students on „stranger danger.š

In the event of an attack, Anderson said there are numerous services offered both by the University of Arizona and the greater community.

Once someone is attacked, Anderson strongly recommends the victim seek immediate help.

She said the sooner a victim contacts authorities, the more options the victim will be afforded. She said a quick response can minimize the possibility of a traumatic reaction by the victim, help law enforcement officials with an investigation and lessen any medical complications that may arise.

Ken Marsh, director of Counseling and Psychological Services, said the recent events have made him realize the importance of a quick response.

„We realize we need to have instant access,š Marsh said.

He said that to meet this need, CAPS has offered a triage service since January 2001 where students can come in and see a counselor that same day.

„We‚ve always tried to be a rapid responder,š he said.

Marsh said there has not been a significant increase in the number of patients since the incidents.

Anderson said self-defense and confidence to fight back is the key to preventing sexual assault.

„It‚s very important for us to not reshape our lives based on fear,š she said. If students do, „we give a lot of power to the person committing the crime.š

She said the Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault offers 24-hour service, which is helpful for people to use at night and on weekends.

Anderson said Oasis receives 200 cases a year; however, most are not reported to UAPD. The cases are from people seeking counseling for something that may have happened years before.

She said between 10 percent and 15 percent of cases are reported by men.

Anderson said the recent number of assault cases that Oasis and UAPD have handled already equals the number of cases from all of last year.

The self-defense classes will be offered Thursday at the Student Recreation Center, 1400 E. Sixth St. They will be offered free of charge to all female students, faculty and staff from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The classes will be sponsored by Oasis, the Student Recreation Center and Odyssey Fitness/Martial Science.

For more information, contact the Oasis Center at 626-2051.


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