By Diane Ako
In April, 18 year old *Ana went to a reggae concert at the Waikiki Shell. She went expecting great music and good times with friends. She left with a beating and some very traumatic memories: She was assaulted by an acquaintance in the parking lot.
"I walked back to my car with a group of people, and we were standing around talking. Pretty soon, everyone else had left, and it was just this guy and me. I had seen him before at group get-togethers. He was a friend of a friend, and I could tell he was drunk tonight. I went towards my car and he asked me to give him a ride home, and without waiting for the answer, he just got inside my car," recalled Ana.
She told him she didn't think it was a good idea and asked him to exit her car. "He flew into a rage. He just started hitting me as we were sitting in the car. It happened so fast, but I remember him punching me in the jaw and being shocked. After he hit me a few times I realized I needed to get away, so I opened the door and rolled out to the ground. He came after me," continued Ana.
The attacker opened the passenger side door with such force, Ana and the police later realized the door would no longer close properly. He walked over to the driver's side where she was lying on the ground and continued his assault. "He kicked me repeatedly in my stomach so hard it knocked the wind out of me. I saw a bystander walking by and yelled for help, to call 911. It made [the attacker] angrier. I had somehow managed to stand up, so he threw me back to the ground several times," she recounted.
Minutes now had passed. She had passed through the emotions of fear, shock, and panic. And now she was getting angry. "I had to fight back or he wasn't going to stop," she decided. He had put her in a headlock, "so I stomped on his foot as hard as I could, several times. It stunned him. He said, 'What the f--?' And I flew him by his shirt, somehow, some feet away from me."
He wasn't expecting this, and it enraged him. "He came after me again and flipped me in the air. The bystander had called 911 and the police were just arriving. The first officer on the scene later told me he saw me being tossed around," remembered Ana, who had great difficulty reliving the trauma.
She says she is only doing it to help other women. "I feel I would have been in a much worse position had I not just taken an assault prevention course run by Professor Steve Mc Laughlin," she said. "I strongly encourage other girls and women to take the course. It helped prepare me for how to protect myself. Everything happened just as Sensei said it would. First I felt fear, then anger, then I remembered to fight back. I was able to use simple but effective techniques that he taught."
Ana's mother, *Angel, had just signed the two women up for the Women's Assault Prevention Course offered by Kupale.org just two months earlier. "What a stroke of luck. I had signed her up because I worried about her walking to her car at night after her part-time job. I myself perform social work at a place where some of the clients are disturbed. We had some threatening incidents at work lately, so I felt the time was right for both of us to learn some skills," explained Angel. "Little did I realize she'd be putting the lessons to use so soon."
In full disclosure, I am affiliated with this course through my jujitsu club. (To go full circle, I found the dojo when I took the Women's Course!) It's offered as a community service on a regular basis by Sensei Mc Laughlin, who always asks the club members to come out and act as assistants. When we meet for workouts the day after a course is held, he debriefs the class on how the Womens' Course went.
One day, he told us a recent class had helped someone fend off an attack. We were surprised. We realize the value of the course, but it's always unsettling to hear about a violent situation. And then again, we feel gratified ourselves that in some way, this volunteer work we do indirectly helped another person.
One of the lessons Sensei McLaughlin teaches is to trust your intuition. Both ladies report having a "weird" feeling that "something was going to happen" that night. "Right around 10 p.m. I just became worried about Ana and started praying that she would be safe," said Angel. "Just 45 minutes later, I got a call from her. 'Mom, I've been attacked.'"
Both women say they're grateful for the assault prevention course, and now plan to take yearly refreshers. Says Angel, "This is for real. You never know when you're going to need it. We want to thank Sensei McLaughlin and urge other women to take this course. It could save your life."
*Not their real names.