Advocate: self-defense not only option for women against assault

DESOTO COUNTY, MS (WMC) - A viral social media trend has pushed a local sheriff's office to start a self-defense class for women.

The DeSoto County Sheriff's Office announced its first ever "Women's Only Self Defense Class," continuing a nationwide discussion of women fighting back against sexual assault and harassment with the hashtag #MeToo.

It's part of national efforts to fight back against harassment and sexual assault.

At KMD self-defense, whether it's an unwanted advance or a man armed with a gun, they teach women every day to protect themselves.

"We've had some students that have used this to save their life and I'm glad that they had the knowledge that they did," said Sara Hooker with KMD Defense.

However, one local advocate has a warning for those who believe self-defense is the only way to go.

Deborah Clubb, Executive Director of the Memphis Area Women's Council, wants to warn women against thinking a self-defense class can protect you from everything.

"I understand if women want to feel stronger and prepared somehow for protecting themselves," Clubb said. "I just don't want them to think that is going to be it. That is the end of it."

Clubb says close to half of all sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows. She isn't opposed to self-defense, but in order to move toward a true solution, she says there has to be a fundamental change.

"What has to happen is those attacks have to stop, men have to change the way they think and the community has to help them be forced to change the way they think," Clubb said.

Instructors at KMD self-defense say the tactics that they teach women is a lot more than just protecting women from a creepy guy. It's also about fitness and building self-confidence.

"You're building friendships," Hooker said. "There's camaraderie that comes with the training that we do here and not just that but you're building confidence, you're getting into shape, there's so many benefits that come along with that."

While self-defense classes can't protect a woman from every kind of attack, Hooker argues it's better to have the skill and not need it, than not have it and desperately need it.

Copyright 2017 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.