Would you know what to do if some suddenly grabbed and attacked you? How would you respond? Reacting the right way is the focus of the Escape Alive training classes being offered for free to Connecticut women and teenage girls.
The training recreates actual attacks and those in the classes learn what to do and what not to do.
Drew Serrano of East Coast Training Systems leads the class.
"Nobody thinks they are going to be a victim, but there's always a possibility," he said.
Donna Palomba said she never imagined the scenario that happened to her. She was asleep when she heard a noise in her house 20 years ago.
"I saw a masked intruder enter my bedroom. I had no time to react. I was quickly overcome. I screamed," she said.
Sheri Kline-Tinguirlis dozed off on her couch while watching TV.
"I didn't hear anything," she said. "I just literally awoke to a gun to my head. It was a masked intruder."
Her attack was ten years ago.
Both women were home with their young children and only Palomba's attacker was caught.
Just a month ago high school student Daelyn Kale said she noticed a man following her while she was shopping at a local mall.
"I was in the store and I noticed a guy was following me around the store. And then I tried to leave the store and he grabbed my arm. So I learned in the class that where the thumb connects to your arms you can move your arm away and you can get out," she said.
She did that and freed herself.
Kale took the Escape Alive class last year and returned this year to refresh her skills.
The first part of each class focuses on prevention, including learning to be aware of your surroundings. In this high-tech world, one could argue that people don't pay attention the way they used to.
"I see the teenagers walking around and their head is completely into their cell phone or their iPod and they have no idea what's going on around them," Serrano said. "And that's what predators are looking for."
The second part of the class gets physical, with staff teaching attendees moves that could potentially get them out of scary situations.
Students are taught to use their elbows, fists and the palms of their hands to fend off an attack. They learn kicks and other moves, including how to break free from someone's grip with the twist of an arm.
The Jane Doe No More Foundation, a victim advocacy group started by Palomba in the years after her attack and rape, has been able to secure funding to make these classes available free of charge to interested women and girls.
"As a victim who has become a survivor, it is just very empowering to be able to help others to understand just some simple techniques that can get them out of a tough situation," Palomba said. "Hopefully preventing people from becoming a victim."
At this time there are limited openings in the Escape Alive classes for interested women and teenage girls 15 years old and older.
The foundation is currently seeking corporate sponsors to be able to continue to provide these free classes.
To hear Donna Palomba's story, click here.
To hear Sheri Kline-Tinguirlis' story, click here.
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