BROOKINGS, SD - It's been more than a week since police arrested Chris Jones, the man suspected of three sexual assaults in the Brookings area. Now, community members are trying to help local women in case they ever find themselves in a similar situation.
Martial Arts instructor Jennifer Briggs says when she first heard about the sexual assaults in her community, she knew her teachings could help other women.
"Right now is really just the best time," Briggs said. "The awareness is high, obviously, due to everything that happened. It's kind of unfortunate, that that's why awareness is high, but it's the best time to teach it where people are more receptive to learn it."
That's why Briggs put together a free women's self-defense seminar. Dozens showed up to learn basic techniques and strategy to help escape potentially sticky situations.
"With all the ladies, we don't necessarily teach them like we would a martial arts class," Briggs said. "We don't treat them like they're experts or trying to become experts. So, for example, I don't teach the ladies how to punch because it would promote more violence if you don't do it right."
Although Briggs says it's best to stay safe by walking with a group, she says if women are walking alone, they should avoid all distractions and walk with purpose.
"Don't be talking on your cell phone because you're immediately going to be vulnerable in that situation," Briggs said. "When somebody's going to attack you, they're looking for someone most vulnerable. If there's three people walking at different locations, and one person is walking tall and proud and looking around, they're not a target."
But if anyone tries to target these women, they'll be prepared.
"I thought this was a really good opportunity to take some preventative measures," Brookings resident Jessica Peterson said. "With this class, I can think through things and have a game plan on how to get out of an uncomfortable situation."
Providing both confidence and a foundation for safety.
Briggs says seminars like Saturdays don't happen regularly. But, if you'd like to set up a lesson or class, click here
© 2010 KELOLAND TV. All Rights Reserved.