A cop attacked me last week, but he was doing me a favor.
It was the last exercise in a women’s self-defense class hosted by the Schererville Police Department. I lay on my back and Detective Patrick Rosado crouched over me and pinned my wrists to the ground. It was awkward. But my desire to free myself trumped that awkward feeling. I slipped my feet under his, lifted my hips and rolled, flipping him on his back and gaining myself the upper hand.
It was empowering. Even in such a vulnerable position, I could get away.
An attacker cannot hinder all of your limbs and movement at the same time, said Schererville Detective Cmdr. Peggi Calderaro, who taught the three-hour class to a group of about 50 women.
Use your feet to kick and stomp. Use your head to head-butt the attacker.
“All you’re looking for is that window of escape,” Calderaro said.
We learned to be assertive and act rudely to people you suspect are creeps. Use foul language or talk to yourself and appear crazy if your instincts tell you you’re in a bad situation. Be aware of your surroundings and find points of escape if you think you’re being followed. Bad guys are afraid of crowds and witnesses.
If the attacker wants your purse or grandma’s wedding ring, let him have it. It’s not worth risking your life for objects. If your life is in danger, fight back. Even if you’re injured, you’re alive. Women can tell attackers they’re pregnant or that they have an STD, which will sometimes scare away a bad guy, Calderaro said.
For the physical portion of the class, she enlisted the help of Rosado, Detective William Bednar and Cpl. Joe Uzubell.
Women young and old lined up to make a fist—thumb on the side, not under or over curled fingers—and swing at the officers, who were holding padded shields. Then we used our forearm to whack the padding even harder.
We kneed our attacker in the groin, putting our hands on his shoulders for balance and to pull him close for a deeper infliction of pain. We kicked with our feet, and then with our legs. We used our dominant limbs and then weaker ones. We learned how to break free when an attacker grabs your wrists. You pull away in the direction of the “weakest link,” which is where the bad guy’s thumb and index finger meet around your wrist.
The key is to have all of these moves in your arsenal. If your legs are restrained, use your upper body and limbs to get away. If your arms are immobilized, use your feet and legs.
It’s important to have a plan, Calderaro said. It could save your life.
Vanessa Renderman covers Tri-Town for The Times. The opinions expressed are solely hers.You can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.