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Self Defense Series Part 1 

Every year, millions of people are the victims of stalking. It’s a serious situation that can turn deadly. The statistics on stalking don’t paint the entire picture of how prevalent the problem is. What we do know is stalking is real and there are ways to keep yourself safe. A person who did not want to be identified tells us, “It first started, I found some photos that was taken of myself that I was unaware of. Whoever this person was figured out where I lived.”According to the Department of Justice, persons 18 to 24 experience the highest rates of stalking. This woman, who we’ll call Karen, was an unsuspecting victim until photos and other disturbing things ended up at her door. “Everything just feels like it’s been ripped out. I felt so violated,” says Karen.The stalking lasted weeks. Karen called police, but because there was no actual crime committed, there was little they could do. “I’m a very social person and while this was going on, I didn’t want to leave my apartment,” she says. “I didn’t want to go out with friends. Some of my girlfriends attempted to take me out one night and a person accidentally bumped into me and I basically went into a panic attack because I automatically thought that someone was grabbing and it was that person.” There are seven types of harassing or unwanted behaviors consistent with stalking, and individuals who experience two or more on two or more separate occasions are classified as stalking victims. Data from the Department of Justice shows women are at higher risk and approximately sixty percent do not report the crime. “That doesn’t mean that there aren’t men that have serious concerns about their own safety or quality of life,” Julia Colpitts, Director of the Coalition to End Domestic Violence.”There are current cases, yes where people are being stalked. One of the things we say to victims who have already been identified as victims of domestic violence is that if you feel in fact that someone knows too much about you, then you’re probably right,” Colpitts says.Colpitts says good self defense starts with a personal safety audit. “A safety audit is a simple way of taking a look at the world around you. Primarily in four zones,” she says. “The first of those zones being to look at your own home. The second, to take a good look at your workplace, at your school, at the places you engage in the outside world. The third is to look hard at your relationships. the other zone is newer for us to think about and that’s the whole zone of social networking and exposure to technology.” For some, knowing how to protect themselves means taking matters into their own hands. At this self defense class, students are learning about awareness, prevention and hands-on training. RAD stands for Rape Aggression Defense System – Nationally certified instructors Meg Hatch and Jen Weaver offer the program. “Primarily we’re hearing about the harassment, the email correspondence, facebook harrassment, the coming to their work place repeatedly, following them when they’re coming to and from work,” says Weaver. “I think it’s a lot bigger than most people are aware of and certainly for survivors of sexual assault I think that stalking is almost always part of that equation,” adds Hatch. “Trusting your gut is a big thing that we teach here, trust that thing in the pit of your stomach that says this feels dangerous because we have that survival mechanism for a reason and it’s usually right.”