It’s a female runner’s worst nightmare.
While hitting the popular Seattle Golden Gardens trail this month, 36-year-old Kelly Herron was attacked by a would-be rapist in one of the park’s public restrooms:
Using the self-defense techniques she had learned just weeks earlier in a Fighting Chance Seattle class that her workplace, the cosmetic surgery community RealSelf.com, had sponsored for employees, she fought off the attacker and was able to escape with treatable injuries.
Now you can learn the moves yourself. RealSelf has teamed up with Fighting Chance Seattle to offer a free live stream of the self-defense class the marathon runner credits with saving her life for free. RealSelf is providing the live stream via Facebook Live at 11 a.m. EST (8 a.m. PST) on Tuesday, March 28.
We asked Herron which moves she used in those intense moments when the 40-year old alleged assailant — homeless sex offender Gary Steiner — who was hiding in one of the stalls, attacked her from behind while she was at the sink washing her hands.
Trust your intuition
Don’t second-guess yourself. “When you feel like something is wrong, it probably is, so trust your instincts,” Herron tells Yahoo Beauty. If you feel like you’re being followed or like someone’s creeping up behind you, listen to that feeling and stop and check. After Herron finished washing her hands and was drying them, she felt something was wrong behind her — and she listened to that voice and looked.
Hesitation can cost you. If you sense you’re in danger, act right away. “When he came at me, I tried to get away from his grasp and move toward the door,” recalls Herron. “Even though I wasn’t sure what to do, I responded immediately by screaming with everything inside me.” Herron remembered that she had jogged by a woman walking her dog not too far off, so she thought that the woman — or someone else on the trail — would hear her and call for help.
Be loud and fight hard
The attacker quickly pushed Herron down and the two fought on the bathroom floor. She remembered a tip for turning into a stronger fighter. “In self-defense class, we learned that yelling from your diaphragm can build up energy in your body that moves through you and can actually make you more powerful,” says Herron.
Her choice of words? Repeating the now-viral “Not today, motherf***er!”
Hard bones to soft spots
Herron learned to put hard bones — like the sides of your hands — into soft, fleshy places, like the face, neck, and groin. “I was striking him in the temple and face with the side of my free hand and clawing and scratching at his face,” she remembers. Your body can come to your aid too; Herron remembers a surge of adrenaline pushing her back up when she was afraid she wouldn’t be able to get off the floor.
It was all too much for the attacker to handle — Herron finally broke free and ran out of the bathroom. A passerby came to her aid and had a carabiner (a lock often used for outdoor sports) that they used to lock and trap Steiner in the restroom until police arrived.
Be vigilant — attacks don’t happen only in sketchy places
Marathon trainers like Herron often run at night or alone in order to fit training into busy schedules — but she emphasizes that it’s important to not let your guard down at any time. “Typically, you feel fear when you’re walking alone at night — not on a Sunday afternoon in a public park — so being aware at all times, regardless of how safe you feel, and not letting your guard down, are important,” Herron emphasizes.
“Women are so much stronger than they think — and I don’t perceive myself to be braver or more courageous than any other woman would be in that situation,” adds Herron. “We all have a warrior goddess inside of us who is there to defend us when called upon. By arming yourself with the knowledge of self-defense, you’ll have the tools you need to give yourself a fighting chance and survive.”
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- What’s Really Going On With Missing Teens In D.C.