Self-Defense and Personal Safety

You enter your dorm room after class and discover it has been ransacked during your absence. You are angry that someone has violated your private space.

You walk down the street after dark and are frozen with fear when you hear footsteps following you.

Or, you have just returned to your dorm following a pleasant evening with a date when you realize that you have different sexual expectations. Are you at risk for rape?

You say “These events can never happen at Goshen College!” Oh, can’t they? The truth is that they have happened in the past and they will probably happen in the future. However, the fear of their occurrence need not immobilize you. When you know about self-defense and can use it to your advantage your safety need not feel as threatened.

What, then, is self-defense? Self-defense is common sense. It is not the development of exceptional physical strength in order to overpower your aggressor. It is locking your room when you are absent for an extended period of time. It is not propping open dorm doors locked for your safety. It is making sure you walk in well lighted areas and that you walk with a friend. It is trusting yourself and getting out of a situation which feels unsafe to you.

Self-defense is understanding and using basic defense techniques which do not destroy the aggressor, but which allow you to escape from a threatening situation. It is not learning how to use a weapon safely. It is learning how to break a stronghold using a minimum of physical energy. It is knowing that it is okay to scream and to call for help. It is carrying your car keys to the parking lot in your hand to avoid searching for them when you reach your car.

Self-defense is becoming aware of your environment and avoiding risks which place you in dangerous situations. It is not safe hibernation from an unsafe world. It means becoming familiar with your physical surroundings. Know where the safe walking and parking areas are. Know where the best lighting is and walk there. Know who your friends are. Avoid being out alone at night, anywhere.

To assist you in feeling comfortable with self-defense techniques, Goshen College will provide basic self-defense training this fall and spring. You are strongly encouraged to attend. It will be for your benefit. Watch for campus announcements regarding date and location.

If you are physically assaulted or see any suspicious persons on campus, call the on-call RD @ 6273. It is important to report dangerous or hazardous threats to proper campus authorities or to the Goshen police at 911.