Real estate agent Mary Stachowicz fears becoming a victim of violence.

Why? Because she shows houses to groups of men by herself.

Stachowicz voiced those fears after the Jan. 27 “Beyond Self Defense Seminar” she attended at AKT Combatives Academy in Olean. And she said she believed that in order to overcome this fear, it would be valuable to learn self-defense.

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“My son worries about my field of work, and he is what inspired me to come today,” Stachowicz said.

Nearly 13 out of the 16 seminar participants who attended the seminar were women, and I was one of them.

January is National Personal Self-Defense Awareness Month, and I wonder if the observance is just one of the many factors that might have affected the number of women who showed up to the seminar.

At the end of the class, Stachowicz said she felt safer about showing houses to groups of men, and expressed her interest in learning even more about self-protection.

“I think it’s extremely important and valuable for women to learn self-defense,” Stachowicz said.

The seminar, taught by Barry Broughton, is aimed toward those 16 and up. Broughton is the owner of AKT, and he said he believes that self-defense is valuable for people of all genders and ages.

He designed the seminar nearly 12 years ago.

“When participants gain confidence from my class, it carries over to all aspects of their lives, and that’s essentially why I felt it was important to create this,” Broughton said.

Broughton admitted that he does not think there’s a specific reason that more women than men showed up to his course at the end of January.

However, I beg to differ.

Like Stachowicz, many other women live their daily lives in fear.

Violence is a real-life issue, especially for women.

Here are some basic statistics from the World Health Organization to back my sentiments up:

  1. It is estimated that 35 percent of women worldwide have experiences with either physical or sexual abuse.
  2. Less than 40 percent of women who experience violence seek help of any sort.
  3. Nearly 70 percent of women have experienced abuse or violence from their intimate partners in their lifetimes.
  4. As high a rate as 38 percent of murders of women across the world are committed by a male intimate partner.

As women, we need to be aware of the dangers that can occur in our society and to us as individuals. Once women learn how to protect themselves, they no longer feel helpless.

It’s empowering not to have to rely on others in your life to protect you. Knowing how to take care of yourself, for yourself, is crucial.

Once women learn self-defense, they become role models to others and are able to protect the important people in their lives.

And so I write to all the females out there — learn how to protect yourself.

Empower your life. Don’t live in fear.

You may be surprised by all you are capable of.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

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