By Kailey Jacobsen, Sacajawea Scroll
Women are often faced with dangerous situations such as rape, assault and theft.
Self-defense can be a useful skill as powerful women in society. Shane Toupal emphasized Tuesday night at the general assembly in Aalf Auditorium Slagle Hall.
Starting off with a few jokes, Toupal quickly grabbed the delegates’ attention. Toupal has given this presentation and been involved in the area of awareness for four years. Before this, he was a police officer in Yankton county for 10 years and has been a member of the National Guard for 19 years.
Delegates learned during the presentation that 130,603 sexual assaults are reported annually. In addition, 509 are in the state of South Dakota. However, 95 percent of college rapes are not reported, which contributes a full total of 60 percent of total rapes or assaults not reported.
Thirty-eight percent of those acts are committed by a close friend, and 26 percent are by a complete stranger.
“Behind each one of these numbers is a human being.” Toupal said. “The truth is, is that this can happen to you.”
Some helpful tips shared included doing background checks, making sure someone knows where you are going at all times and trusting instincts.
However, these tactics don’t always guarantee a 100 percent success rate. To prepare this year’s delegates, Toupal showed different defense mechanisms including the wrist roll, when some one has grabbed your wrists, and the push away by thumbs, if some one has their hands around your neck.
He also said not be afraid to throw elbows, gauge eyes and stomping on someone’s foot. Toupal also discussed sensitive areas on the body that are easily accessible in the case of an assault: the eyes, the knees, the throat and the groin. Delegates were also told that anything can be a weapon and that it’s beneficial to have a plan.
“Do what you can to be safe,” Toupal said. “Never stop looking for ways to fight.”
Along with ways to prevent and fight back during an assault, Toupal spoke about ways to get help after you have lost the fight. This included getting to a safe place, seeking medical attention, reporting it and even helping to preserve evidence. While this can be hard to hear for some girls, it is essential to finding the perpetrator.
“This is when you fight back,” Toupal said.
When asked about how change can be made, education was the first word out of Toupal’s mouth. He said the public needs to be educated about sexual assaults and the effect that it can have on the victims.
“No one deserves to be assaulted,” said Toupal.
Many of the topics Toupal touched on can be difficult to hear for some. Talking about topics such as sexual assault can bring back memories that victims have tried to erase from their minds. This is why Tiffany Newman, the ALA Girls State Assistant Director, started the self-defense segment and said if anyone has been assaulted it is important to remember that it is not your fault. If you need to talk or have questions, you may contact Newman at any time.