HANSVILLE — In a world that seems to become more and more violent with each newspaper headline and breaking news bulletin, one woman is taking a stand and helping others learn how to protect themselves and get out of dangerous scenarios.
Hansville resident Shelley White, over the course of about six years, has devised her own workshops called Keep Safe classes to help teenage girls and women of all ages prepare for what most hope never to encounter.
“Three years ago, I was watching the news, and I saw the abduction of Carly Brucia,” White said, speaking of a 13-year-old girl who was kidnapped, raped and murdered in Florida. “It was captured on film in a gas station. You can see the man just leading her by the arm. She wasn’t resisting at all. If she had had a class, self defense, she would have been able to get away.”
Fueled by such stories, White schedules workshops with organizations and teaches at the Poulsbo Recreation Center.
Her house serves as her home base, and she travels around to different groups of women to teach them how to protect themselves. The basis of the class is teaching self-esteem, self worth and how to respond in a confident, safe manner to protect themselves.
“I’m basically training girls to respond assertively,” she said. “The self defense is the second response, the first is to run. This is about men, and other women, stealing power and looking for an easy target. I teach girls and women how not to be an easy target.”
Self defense moves are a part of the class, but not all of it, White said. She hasn’t taken any serious martial arts classes herself, and isn’t a blackbelt in anything. The whole point of the class is to show how any woman can get out of a grip or an unwanted hug.
“This shows others you don’t have to be an instructor to protect yourself,” White said. “You can still do it if you are a regular girl or woman.”
She invites mothers and daughters to take the basic class together, which focuses on assertiveness and sticky situations. Then they have a similar language to help communicate about different scenarios at school, work and all places in between.
The advanced class White teaches focuses on how to stay safe while on a date, dating or in a relationship and things get weird, as she puts it. White said she’s taught classes all over, from offices to living rooms, from Girl Scout troops to women who hear about it through the grapevine.
“They love it so much,” she said. “I’ve heard all kinds of comments after classes, girls and women just feel so much more powerful afterwards. They had no idea they could stand up for themselves, and that’s what Keep Safe is all about.”