Where serenity and martial discipline meet

By Dean Wright - deanwright@aimmediamidwest.com

GALLIPOLIS — In an effort to place the power of self-defense in the hands of local women and to raise awareness of domestic violence, the Serenity House is partnering with Southern Ohio Krava Maga to offer a free class on self-defense on Oct. 24 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Elizabeth Chapel Gym in Gallipolis.

“I’ve never taken anything like this before and I’m excited,” said Serenity House Victim Advocate Ashley Durst. “October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It’s important for women to protect themselves. (Learning self-defense) will give them a boost of confidence as well because they know that they can protect themselves if the need arises. We’ll also be giving out some information for people to use if they ever need to find help.”

According to Serenity House statistics, a woman is battered every nine to 15 seconds in the US, one out of every four have been assaulted by an intimate partner, approximately 50 percent of homeless women and children are fleeing domestic violence and 80 percent of women who are stalked by a former partner are physically assaulted by the same individual. Around 30 percent are also sexually assaulted by the same aggressor.

Krav Maga is a self-defense system designed by Israeli military and security forces mixing a variety of martial techniques in an attempt to be both practical and quick to learn for the average individual. The martial art focuses on hitting hard, hitting fast and incapacitating an opponent before he is aware he was hit the first time. Weapon disarms, elbow strikes, knee strikes and learning how to escape headlocks are just a few of the lessons to be taken from the discipline.

“I’ve done this class before,” said Serenity House Director Marissa Mets. “I think it’s great and it’s really taken off in the area…We’re looking to empower women. If women don’t feel they can physically fight back, we hope they can speak up. Most women won’t leave (a bad situation) because of fear of the unknown. Abusers tend to slowly take everything away. (A woman then) may not have a job or a bank account or friends and family. So they can feel very alone.”

According to Southern Ohio Krav Maga founder and instructor Scott King, the discipline is about creating confidence in individuals no matter size, age or gender in their ability to protect themselves with just their body. Survival is the order of the day. His organization travels across south Ohio holding seminars and classes utilizing self-defense techniques.

“In the reality of today’s society, we can very quickly find ourselves in a developing violent situation,” said King. “If that’s not bad enough, in these situations we are very often our own first responder. Therefore, knowing that we must assume responsibility for our own safety, empowering ourselves with the skills of situational awareness and, if necessary, empty-handed defense techniques are critical to being more prepared.”

As part of its unending mission to serve southeast Ohio women, Serenity House says it offers a 24-hour crisis line where there is an individual always available to answer the phone. Many women have been housed with the organization as they get their lives pointed in a new direction. The organization seeks to assist women in leaving abusive situations and coaches them in how to become independent and confident. The residential location of the organization has remained secret in an attempt to respect the privacy of the clients utilizing the organization’s services.

For more information and to become part of the class, the organization can be reached at 740-446-6752 or 800-942-9577. Mets can be reached at serenityhous@yahoo.com and Durst can be reached at serenityhouseadvocate@gmail.com. Information can also be found at serenityhouseinc.weebly.com. Southern Ohio Krav Maga can be reached at its Facebook page.

Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.

By Dean Wright