How to protect yourself from sexual assault

Our Delaine Mathieu participated in a simulated attack to show firsthand how to handle the situation - and avoid it.Thumbnail

The search is still on tonight for the man police say sexually assaulted a woman this week at Phil Hardberger Park. It happened in broad daylight while the woman was jogging. Police said she managed to fight off the attacker, which may have saved her life.

Our Delaine Mathieu met up with self-defense expert, Pete Hardy with STW Krav Maga, to participate in a simulated attack -- to show you first-hand how quickly it can happen and how to prevent it from happening to you.

Mathieu was not told exactly when she was going to be attacked only that, when it happens, she needed to do everything she could to try to get away.

[The story began with Mathieu jogging on a trail. A man, dressed in combat protective gear, grabbed her from behind and slammed her to the ground. Mathieu fought back but was unable to get the man off her body. The instructor yelled, "Time!"]

It was one of the most brutal moments I've ever experienced and it was only a drill and, to be honest, I thought I would do a lot better than I did.

"That was hard and I failed, miserably," Mathieu said.

What did Mathieu do wrong? For starters, she never heard him coming.

"So, you didn't hear him at all, right?" Hardy asked Mathieu.

"I didn't hear him at all," Mathieu said.

"Bad, very bad," Hardy said. "Don't run with these!"

Second, during the attack, Mathieu wasn't even looking at him.

"Let me tell you what you were doing and you didn't even realize it," Hardy told Mathieu while closing his eyes.

"I closed my eyes," Mathieu said

"Always," Hardy said.

Hardy said to look at your attacker in the eyes so you know where to hurt him.

"Those eyes are right there -- when he's trying to mount you -- those eyes are right there," Hardy said. "You just start taking your fingers and gouging his eyes out and get inside that trachea."

But he said it doesn't have to get that far -- if you are prepared before you hit the trail. Hardy said you need two things when running alone: a special ear piece and a stick.

"This is an enhanced hearing piece that hunters use," Hardy said. "It enhances ambient noises to help you hear someone behind you. So now, when my attacker approaches, I can actually hear him coming. And, if he attacks, I can beat the you know what outta of him with that stick."

[The instructor came at Mathieu again, only this time, she hit the man repeatedly with a stick, then ran away]

"That first blow would've taken him out of his game -- that intent to do bodily harm to you," Hardy said, applauding Mathieu's efforts. "That first blow would've been, [expletive], 'I'm in a fight!'"

Mathieu said it took a few tries to get the timing and intensity to an effective level and it wasn't easy -- physically or emotionally.

"It's a lot harder than you think it is to hurt somebody," Mathieu said. "It goes against everything we've been trained to do and I feel like if I give him a warning that that is easier -- but not when he wants to rape me."

Hardy recommends carrying a wooden dowel with you while you run. You can have it cut down at any home improvement store.

Meantime, SWT Krav Maga is holding a sexual assault prevention in October. For more information, go to their official website.

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