By: Charlene Cristobal | WCTV Eyewitness News
August 30, 2018
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Last month, a waitress at a Georgia restaurant threw a man to the ground after he groped her. The whole thing was caught on video. After the incident, Emelia Holden was offered free martial arts and self-defense classes.
But experts say, you shouldn’t wait for something like that to happen to learn how to defend yourself.
Barbra Brabham is 70 years old. She recently started learning how to defend herself from possible attackers.
"One of the things I learned is that I had to make sure that I could get out of my house if someone was standing over my head," says Brabham.
She credits knowing how to do that and more to R.A.D, or Rape Aggression Defense.
Maria Mercurio has been teaching the class for 12 years. She says self-defense isn’t just physical, it’s also mental preparedness.
"Self-defense is the last resort,” says Mercurio. “We want people to rely on prevention, to recognize the dangers before they actually happen and to avoid these potential dangerous situations."
The situations that the class prepare you for aren’t just physical ones either. They make sure you know how to stay safe at home, in your car, or even going to and from work.
"Not only do we educate these people, our women, to become less like a victim,” says Mercurio, “We also teach them confidence. Some of our women come to the class and they don't have a lot of confidence because they don't think they can do anything. And by the end of they are the ones that are standing tall, yelling loud, looking like they can definitely take care of themselves and they believe that and they can do something."
"I can say, 'No!' and everybody around me can hear it,” says Brabham. “I patterned some of those exercises so that I can do that Maria or with you, or anyone else who's gonna be a perpetrator. “
Barbra knows she and other senior citizens are targets. “You put a tag in your car that says 'handicap parking' - people will watch."
A report by The National Council on Aging finds one in every 10 seniors will experience some kind of abuse. But Barbra refuses to fall victim.
"My neighborhood has a lot of senior citizens,” she says. “So, I wanted to be able to encourage them to attend and to be able to give them some hints." She continues, "If I want people to take care of themselves, then I needed to do that too-- and age was no issue."
Mercurio says knowing how to protect yourself is half the battle.
"Unfortunately, we're not going to stop crime and crime is always going to be there,” says Mercurio. “So, to me, education is a huge thing."
"I like to live a full life, and that's part of it," says Brabham.
If you want to participate in the same program, the next R.A.D. class is September 15. To sign up for the program, click here.