May 1, 2013 1:48 AM by Connie Tran, KSBY News

In light of alleged sexual assault at Cal Poly, SARP reminds of self-defense classes

In light of an alleged sexual assault on early Sunday morning on the Cal Poly Campus, university police are sharing some statistics with KSBY. It said on Tuesday, two sexual assaults were reported in 2012, and one in 2011- all were on campus.

University police said on that early Sunday morning, a first-year female student was allegedly sexually assaulted in her dorm room in the Muir hall. Workers at the school's sexual assault program, SAFER, said the student told them about being assaulted, but she does not want to file a report with police. By law, the SAFER program had to report the incident to police, because they are federally funded, however, there will not be a police investigation because the victim does not want it.

The Sexual Assault Recovery and Prevention (SARP) Center of SLO County said it aims at helping women by teaching sexual assault awareness classes. One way, it said, is to teach self-defense classes. Krista Stafford, development director for SARP, said they don't just teach physical techniques in their self-defense classes. They also teach awareness and assertiveness. The goal, she said, is to teach women to value themselves, and know that they are worth being protected.

"I think it does help. It's something that they can learn and have something in the back of their mind to help them plan for an attack, obviously no one ever expects it to happen, but it is good to have those steps in your head," said Stafford.

Stafford said in the self-defense classes, women also learn how to walk with confidence. She said women, when walking alone, should have their heads up with shoulders back, and stay alert. She said they should also avoid being on the phone, because that could poise as a distraction. Stafford also said they teach women how to be vocal at the time of an attack. She said women have to be loud and scream, and that could actually scare away a perpetrator.

But, Christina Kaviani, coordinator of SAFER, the program that the alleged victim reached out to, said if an attacker is determined, unfortunately an assault will like happen. Kaviani said the emphasis should be to focus on the perpetrator, and blame solely the attacker.

She said, "I think making sure that we know that the only person who could have prevented this is the actual perpetrator. There's nothing that the survivor can ever do to prevent being assaulted."

For Stafford, she said it's all about instilling empowerment, that no one ever deserves to be a victim.

"During courses we've heard that 'Oh I could've used this in a situation', or 'This is a great idea. I never would've thought of approaching something like this'," said Stafford.

The San Luis Obispo Police Department said there has been a string of sexual assaults this year. It said there were ten rape cases in the city, and three near the Cal Poly campus.

SARP's next women's empowerment and self-defense workshop is on May 25 at the Paso Robles Veteran's Hall from 1pm to 4pm.



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