By Allison Bellucci, Contributing Writer
If someone gave you five minutes, you wouldn’t think of it as much. You could brush your teeth or make a sandwich. If there were only five minutes until the bus came, you would probably wait instead of walk.
Five minutes is all it takes for the police to reach you if you’re in danger on campus. Seventy to eighty percent of all emergency police calls in Durham are responded to in five minutes.
Close your eyes and count to 30. Now, close your eyes, count to 30 and imagine getting attacked. Now, imagine getting attacked and having to wait five minutes until help arrives. This is how Mike Rozumek, former New Hampshire state trooper, opened his self-defense class.
“You have to be able to take care of yourself,” he said, repeating it over and over again.
On Sunday, Sept. 21, Chi Omega hosted a free self-defense class in the Memorial Union Building. Open to all University of New Hamp-shire students, the event featured four instructors to help women learn how to fight back. With the help of her sorority sisters of Chi Omega, Carly Lord organized the four-hour free self-defense class.
“I wanted to help other girls be prepared and to stop being afraid; to feel empowered,” Lord said. “I had a self defense class come to my sorority, and it was such a success, I wanted to offer it to the entire campus. The moves we learned were so simple, yet things I wouldn’t ever think of. I felt so much safer and wanted to offer that to other women.”
Every student at UNH probably remembers the disturbing email received only a few days before students moved in for the fall 2014 semester. Early the Friday morning before classes started, near the intersection of Garrison and Strafford Avenue, a UNH student reported three men trying to abduct her. She explained to police that the men tried to put her in the trunk of their car.
After this out-of-character event happened on campus, many students, especially females, were a bit rattled. Although Durham is known to be a very safe town, incidents like this can happen anywhere. With a heightened awareness of the need to learn self-defense, there have been many classes offered to the students at UNH.
Lord was one student who immediately took action.
Only a few years ago, Lord’s life changed when her older sister was abducted and killed at age 25 by a random stranger. After this, Lord started to wonder what she would have done if it happened to her.
“It made me realize how unprepared I would be and how it can truly happen to anyone,” she said.
Lord explained how her sister was aware of her surroundings; she had even bought a new apartment in a location she thought was safe. Lord described her sister as someone who was careful and aware.
The self-defense event also raised money for a women’s shelter. The shelter is used to help the women get back on their feet after traumatic incidents like getting attacked.
“The man who killed my sister attacked other women who lived, and they have been through unimaginable struggles,” Lord said. She hopes that the profits can help these women take back what was taken away from them.
Many women attending the event had similar goals. Alona Brosh, a commuter student, discussed how she needed classes like this to feel safer being alone, an everyday occurrence she can’t avoid. Living off campus, Brosh has to walk home alone in the dark next to woods.“We live in this environment where something probably won’t happen, but it can,” Brosh said. “I want to be able to protect myself. It is also really empowering to be able to defend yourself. What if I did live somewhere else, what if I move to another city? It is good to be prepared.”
Mackensie Brown came to the class as well.
“I’m an RA this year in Williamson, and I have to walk a lot farther than I’m used to compared to when I lived in Fairchild the past two years,” she said. “It’s just a way to feel more confident.”
Durham Chief of Police Dave Kurz discussed how Durham works on improving safety. Students may see a lot of police cars out during the typical party hours of the weekend. Kurz explained it is not meant to get students in trouble but to keep them safe.
“We normally have six officers on duty anyway, but we add an additional four those Thursday, Friday, Saturday nights between 9 [p.m.]-3 a.m.,” Kurz said. “And it’s not to make arrests. What we are trying to do is for students to say, ‘Jeeze everywhere I look there’s a cruiser.’ On one hand, that says, ‘All right I don’t wanna misbehave,’ but on the other hand it says, ‘I’m safe out here if I’m not doing anything bad.’”
Kurz and Rozumek both stressed the importance of being aware. If you’re alone, stay in lighted areas, stay off your phone and walk confidently. An attacker is more apt to choose someone who looks like they will be surprised by the attack — not ready to fight back.
“If someone touches you, that is an unlawful act right there,” Rozumek explained. “Remember that no one has the right to touch you. You don’t have a moment to wonder what’s going on; it will become too late.”
Rozumek also stressed the importance of never giving up if you are being attacked. “Always resist. … You have to believe in yourself, you may think because you’re a woman that you can’t handle a guy, but you can, and you will. Fight to the finish. They don’t expect much of a fight from you, which is your greatest advantage. You have that element of surprise with you all the time, because no one expects to get hit as hard from you. … You have to believe in yourself.”
To learn about how to take action in becoming knowledgeable and prepared for any situation, visit: http://campusrec.unh.edu/program/womens-self-defense and sign up for a free self-defense class.