Girls On Guard Train Girls With Defense Mechanisms Against Sexual Assault


Sophia Khan

Senior Pamela Cobaugh (right) practices her grip and kicks against the defense trainer.

Alana McCaffrey, Staff

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According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in every four women will be a victim of sexual assault before the age of 18. College freshmen are the most vulnerable, as their age is one of the most dangerous times in a woman’s life. To help combat these crimes, Haverford’s Girl Up arranged a sexual-assault self-defense course at Haverford on Valentine’s Day to teach 22 students essential skills that they may have to apply in their lives. Girls On Guard, a class that trains girls on approaching sexual assault scenarios, is taught by staff members at Main Line United Brazillian Jiu Jitsu in Ardmore, PA. 

From how to stop sexual assaults before they begin, to how to get out of the “worst position possible”, students were trained in how to respond to the physical dangers that many face. The girls partnered up to practice their newly-learned moves on one another before practicing on a trainer in a padded suit. The course was not only informative and useful, but it was also fun and exciting. The girls who participated each described the course in one word that rang true with them, the most prominent being “empowered,” “confident,” “excited,” and “prepared.” 

Grayce Kurtz, who took the course not knowing what to expect, says, “I think the course was very helpful. I definitely walked away with new information that would help keep me safe in the future. I liked how the class worked in an order and progressively got more difficult but essentially went back to similar techniques.”

Another student details how “the course was very practical in that many techniques built off of each other and could be used in multiple scenarios. The emphasis was definitely on reality.” Though they reminded the trainees to envision the techniques under real and daunting circumstances, the instructors were able to keep the training session light and fun. They were able to play to their audience of a bunch of high school girls, while making them feel safe and prepared for the possibility of requiring the techniques in the future. 

The course comes with a free “brush-up” lesson where the crew re-teaches anyone who desires to go over the moves at their location in the Main Line. All of the girls who took the course said that they intended to utilize this brush-up lesson, and even recommended the studio to their friends.  Girls on Guard aims to continue empowering young women with physical strengthening skills so that they can stand up for their safety in threatening situations.

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