Seminar will focus on prevention of assaults

Seminar will focus on prevention of assaults by M. Jill Sundstrom Because sexual harassment or assault can happen anywhere, a Sexual Harassment, Assault and Rape Prevention (SHARP) seminar will be offered Oct. 14 in the lunch room of the Coyote Student Center on The University of South Dakota campus beginning at 8:30 p.m.

Vermillion Police Officer Maria Olson will conduct the presentation, which will focus on several aspects of prevention.

�The presentation includes looking at the psychology of a victim � what makes a target and what doesn�t,� Olson said. �There are ways to develop a mind-set and physical presence that says ?don�t mess with me� in a person�s attitude and aura which can help prevent an attack.�

The personality profile of a potential attacker is another subject that Olson will cover, along with prevention tips.

�People must be alert to their surroundings, stay among crowds and be aware of points of escape in case an attack occurs,� she said. �Developing a strategy of defense is also important.�

The SHARP presentation will also include possible responses to an attack.

�Even though some people are shy about it, aggressive swearing has been known to fend off attackers,� Olson said. �It may not be socially acceptable, but it has been noted that the worse things a victim says to an attacker can often drive them away.

�When a person invades your personal zone, saying ?please don�t hurt me� can�t be the case,� she continued. �You�ve got to fight back.�

Olson emphasizes, however, that there is no �textbook� right or wrong way to avoid an attack.

�It�s important to remember that the victim has to do what feels right to them,� she said. �This class simply gives a variety of ideas to think about before something occurs.�

Olson will give demonstrations on several ways to fight back, including foot stomps, lower abdomen strikes, the hip check and blows to the neck with the forearm.

�We will also talk about ways to get an attacker off if he does get you down,� Olson said.

In addition, participants will learn and practice Pressure Point Control Techniques (PPCT) during the SHARP presentation.

Home safety, such as where to place keys, how to answer the door and calling for emergency assistance will also be covered, as will vehicle security.

Olson, a Sioux City, IA native, has been an officer with the Vermillion Police Department for over two years. She is certified in SHARP instruction and this is the first time the presentation will be given in Vermillion.

�This isn�t a panic reaction to the rapes that have been recently reported,� she said. �Attacks can happen anywhere, at any time. People � both men and women � simply need to know how to prevent them, and if one occurs, how to react.�

Pre-registration will be required for the SHARP presentation. For further information and to register, call Olson at the police department, 677-7070.

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