Over the past three weeks the Springfield Police Department ran a free self-defense class for women who work or live in the city of Springfield.
"I feel a lot more confident because one of the things they teach you is your awareness to be aware of your surroundings," Heidy Fontanez said.
Fontanez was one of around 80 women to participate in the course. She decided to take self-defense after a scary encounter at the Holyoke Mall.
"I was walking down by my car, there was another individual down on the other side walking in step with me. A fear came over me and I sensed that something wasn't right," said Fontanez.
Fontanez says she escaped the incident without injury.
"What I ended up doing was I started running towards my car, hit my open button on my car," Fontanez said. "And, I just threw the packages in, got in my car and got out of there right away."
But, she says she wanted to know how to protect herself in case a similar situation presents itself.
The course teaches women basic self-defense moves through hands-on exercises and classroom lectures. A big part of the class is making sure that women are prepared in case they encounter a dangerous situation.
"We hope that when women leave here they feel empowered," said Springfield Police Sgt. John Delaney. "If they come across the perpetrator of a crime or if they come across somebody that looks like they're going do them harm then we teach them not to be a victim."
And for Fontanez that certainly is the case.
"I think that the tools that I am taking away today are definitely helpful so that if anyone tries to attack me I have some techniques that I have been taught in the last three weeks that I'll be able to put to good use," Fontanez said.
The Springfield Police Department will be holding many more of these classes. The first one will be held in January for Baystate Medical Center personnel. Then, there will be two open classes to the public in February and March.
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