WALKER — Every 46 seconds, another woman is raped in America, women were told at a Be Aware program presented by Southeastern Louisiana University students.
At the free self-defense seminar, women were told a quarter of rapes take place in a public area or in a parking garage.
Kayla Phillips, of Greensburg, who attended the seminar, said she didn’t know the statistics that were presented Thursday night and was alarmed at the prevalence of rape.
“You just have to know that you’re not invincible just because it’s you,” Phillips said. “It happens to people every day.”
For Tracie Davis, of Walker, such statistics were part of the reason she decided to make an effort to learn how to protect herself against violence.
“I have thought about it (a possible harmful situation) when I’m walking through the parking lots,” Davis said. “It’s always in the back of your mind but you just never think it will happen.”
Senior SLU nursing students aimed to provide practical tips for women on remaining safe in public during the one-hour presentation.
“There is so much that we can do as women to protect ourselves, including common awareness of our surroundings; an understanding of what predators look for; and knowing some basic physical techniques that can enable escape from a dangerous situation,” said Myia Erwin, a senior nursing student from Zachary who helped coordinate the project.
Erwin and her fellow students selected the topic for their capstone project, a community outreach research course required of all senior nursing students at SLU. Nursing professor Susan Pryor served as their faculty mentor on the project.
“The capstone course is intended to prepare students in planning a population-focused program to promote health and/or injury prevention,” Pryor said.
“The students have done an excellent job on a very important and timely topic.”
The seminar included an overview on the prevalence of violence and attacks against women, resources available to assist women who may be victims of violence and a presentation of defensive techniques by Denny Perkins, of the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office.
“One only has to look at the headlines to see how very common violence against women has become,” Erwin said.
“A woman is raped every 46 seconds, and approximately 25 percent of girls will be sexually assaulted by the time they are 18 years old.
“However, awareness and self-defense can become a habit and has been shown to reduce the risk of violence or assault.”
Davis said she plans to pass the information on to her nieces and “any women in my life. It’s something they definitely need to know to stay safe.”
“It’s about being more aware of your surroundings and not thinking it can’t happen to you,” Davis said.
Other SLU nursing students involved in the project include Brooke Bourgeois, Christian Walker, Raveen Coon, Elizabeth Venable, Chelsey Cedotal, Brittany Theriot and Jessie Sheese.
Those attending the seminar also were urged to take a self-defense class at their local police or sheriff’s office.
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