The statistics are shocking -- every five minutes a woman is sexually assaulted in the US.
In October 2016, a Seattle woman was brutally attacked while on a jog. She was left bloodied and bruised but credits her survival to a self-defense class she had taken just weeks earlier.
Denise Rejent Lee, attorney turned self-defense instructor of Strong and Safe AZ, has been empowering Valley women to fight back for over 10 years.
"Self defense is not a skill set, it's a mind set. It's about an attitude. Finding that fire that we all have within us," said Lee.
The first line of defense is to avoid an attack in the first place. Make yourself a hard target.
“These aren't brave people. The men that attack aren't looking for a challenge, fair fight. They are looking for an easy target," explained Lee.
Be aware and make eye contact.
If something doesn’t feel right, it’s time to act. Set your boundaries and communicate them.
Lee said, “Our voice is one of the most powerful weapons we have.”
But if an attack is imminent like in the case of the Seattle jogger, your escape must be strong and fast
“You don't have the opportunity in an attack situation to build up," Lee said.
A powerful moment in the class happened during a mock attack demonstration. A class member will stand with eyes closed in the middle of the room and wait to be attacked by a male instructor in a padded suit. The objective is to escape the attacker using the self-defense techniques taught in the class.
"'Fight' was going through my mind," said class member Kristin. "'Don't stop until I'm free, just keep going.'"
Denise Rejent Lee said while it is important to learn how to fight, just thinking about the topic of self defense can help keep you safer.
"Just being here," she said. "Just by thinking about this topic, you are reducing your chances of it becoming a reality, just by thinking of it alone."
If you would like to attend a class or set up a private self-defense course, you can visit Strong and Safe's website or call 602-300-1401.