Sexual Assault prevention – the next step: presenting a hardened target

A participant in the “target hardening” self-defense course throws Paul Buckingham, Goodfellow’s Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, to the mat as she practices a self-defense technique. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. John Barton)

A participant in the “target hardening” self-defense course throws Paul Buckingham, Goodfellow’s Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, to the mat as she practices a self-defense technique. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. John Barton)

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Sexual assault prevention takes on many forms. The most often used method is to provide information and statistics on sexual assault incidence - the proverbial do's and don'ts of sexual assault.

The issue then comes that we may have knowledge, but do we use it? More than 98 percent of all sexual assaults on Goodfellow in the last two years involved alcohol. Even with that knowledge being briefed routinely, we continue to have sexual assaults that most often involve alcohol. So what is the next step?

One of the terms we hear in the military is a "soft target versus a hardened target." A soft target is one that has minimal defenses. We harden targets by placing barriers, 100 percent ID checks, restricting entry and exit points and various other methods. My goal for Goodfellow is to harden the targets for sexual assault. So how are we to accomplish this "target hardening?"

The first step is to accept that we have a role in this process. Each person must take an active role in becoming a hardened target. Just as we all have specific military duties when the Force Protection Condition is raised, so do we have a job in the sexual assault venue. We must understand that we are the primary means of stopping a rapist.

The second step is to see situations from the attacker's perspective. My experience working with sex offenders in a Texas prison taught me that they see things very differently than do most people. They have a predator-versus-prey view of many things, especially potential victims. To become a "hardened target," you must understand how to use this perspective to your advantage.

The final task to become a "hardened target" is to have the self defense skills to fight off a potential attacker and know when to employ those skills. These skills must be learned and practiced to increase your ability and the chance of you utilizing the skills effectively.

On April 7, the Goodfellow Sexual Assault Response Coordinator office began offering a four-hour "target hardening" self-defense course the first Saturday of every month from 8 a.m. - noon. The course is designed to provide attendees with an understanding of their role in becoming a hardened target for sexual assault, insight into the attacker's perspective on potential victims and a majority of the time focusing on specific self defense tactics. The class is free to all females associated with Goodfellow (A male self defense course is under consideration should there be sufficient request for one).

For more information, or to sign up for the course, call 654-1572 or 654-1559.