The Lewis Center and College Panhellenic Association hosted a Personal Safety Seminar led by Lauren Roselle, founder and president of Esteem, a communication consulting firm, on March 8, International Women’s Day. The seminar, held in the La Fetra Auditorium, provided University of La Verne students, staff and faculty members with an opportunity to learn a variety of personal safety techniques.
Roselle was a volunteer for the Los Angeles Rape and Battering Hotline when she realized that she wanted to be proactive to help prevent women from being in dangerous situations.
“It just hit me very early on that I would rather be doing prevention so that women weren’t in a situation where they had to call a hotline than doing the intervention,” Roselle said.
After her volunteering experience, Roselle became a certified self-defense instructor, and in 1989, she began working at the Los Angeles Commission on Assaults Against Women, which is now known as Peace Over Violence, where she ran their self-defense program until she started Esteem in 1991.
“I ran their self-defense program for a while, but I spent more time at my desk coordinating training, and I really wanted to be teaching them, so I started my own business from that,” Roselle said.
Esteem works to provide personal safety and self-defense training to teen girls and women and violence avoidance training for teen boys and men. The company’s mission is to empower people to walk through the world with less fear and more confidence.
Allison Krich, operations manager for the Lewis Center, organized the event because she thinks everyone should have the ability to defend themselves in difficult situations.
“I think it’s very important, especially because it’s International Women’s Day,” Krich said. “It’s important for everyone to have these skills, but especially women, especially the skills to let people know that it is okay to speak up. Even if your personality doesn’t fit that mold, it is okay to tell people no, that you do not want to be put in that situation.”
During the seminar, Roselle explained that when an individual gets a “creepy feeling,” meaning something is not quite right, the safest things to do is to get to a safe place where there are people around to make a phone call or to change directions like crossing the street or making multiple rights to make sure that no one is following them.
Roselle demonstrated what to do in a situation where someone is being followed by asking for a volunteer. She showed that the best thing to do is to turn around, put both hands up and yell angrily, “back off, back off now!” Yelling is important because it startles a potential assailant and draws attention.
“I think we’re all going to feel fear,” Roselle said. “Fear is the number one thing I’m feeling when somebody’s targeting me. I’m going to feel that anxiety. That fear is telling me there’s something wrong, but I’m going to turn that fear into anger because how dare you make me feel afraid walking down the street.”
If someone finds themselves in a situation where an attacker has got ahold of them, Roselle explained that there are five vital areas that can do the most amount of damage. The five areas are the eyes, nose, throat, knee and groin.
“I’m not overstating how impactful this is…It doesn’t take much,” Roselle said. “We just have to believe it.”
Valerie Vera, a junior kinesiology major, said she believed the techniques Roselle demonstrated were simple and that anyone could do them.
“A lot of people think that you have to know some form of martial arts in order to protect yourself, and everything she explained was simple and doable,” Vera said. “It’s something that everyone can do whether you’re a black belt in karate or you really have never been in a fight before.”
Throughout the seminar, Roselle talked about real-life experiences where the people she has trained or herself have used the techniques that she demonstrated.
Kaylee Perales, freshman psychology major, said she decided to attend the event because she wanted to learn how to defend herself in difficult situations.
“I feel more confident in myself, and just in case if I happen to walk by at night in a dark alley, then I will feel more comfortable with the techniques she used,” Perales said.
Roselle explained that society had taught people that in order to show a person they like them, they need to touch them. Setting boundaries without making them seem like a question and being assertive is important because it teaches others how to treat someone.
“I want you to know that you’re not disrespecting a person when you’re telling them what’s okay and not okay,” Roselle said. “If they are someone who cares about you or wants to get to know you, they’re going to respect that, and then they’re gonna be like, ‘Oh, OK, that’s someone who knows what they want and I’m cool with that’.”
Roselle ended the seminar by demonstrating what an individual should do if they are being threatened by a gun, which is to try to get ahold of the weapon and dispose of it on their way to safety. She also encouraged people to speak up when they are involved in dangerous situations.
“It’s about empowering people to realize what you can do and that you don’t have to be in incredible coordination,” Roselle said.
To learn more about Esteem’s personal safety training, visit esteemcommunication.org.
Samira Felix can be reached at email@example.com.