A female Ohio State student was reportedly stopped by an unidentified man while she walked to her residence hall in the late evening of March 1. The suspect grabbed the student, forced her against a wall, and then began choking her.
The student, however, was able to hit and kick the suspect before running away.
The resulting public safety notice, issued two days later by University Police, was enough for Kylee Voshel, a second-year in sociology and criminology, and Kayla Miller, a second-year in social work, to consider their own abilities to protect themselves. They decided to take one of the self-defense classes being offered at the Ohio Union on Monday.
“I carry pepper spray, but sometimes I feel like that’s not going to be enough if someone were to actually attack me,” Miller said.
The self-defense courses were led by Scott Mulhollen, the owner and master instructor at Dynamic Self Defense in New Albany, Ohio.
Mulhollen said that it is important to protect yourself but also to be able to avoid situations that require self-defense in the first place.
“It’s better to have the knowledge and not need it than need it and not have it,” he said.
Mulhollen, who has practiced self-defense since he was 15 years old, said that before that time, he dealt with a lot of abuse.
“Before I started, I got beat up a lot as a kid, had a lot of mental and physical abuse, not just with kids but with adults as well,” he said. “So it prompted me to want to find something that would help me not just be able to defend myself, but give me my self esteem, bring that back up again, self-confidence and empowerment.”
Mulhollen appeared with Andre Vatke, the chief assistant instructor at DSD, to teach two classes of students ways to protect themselves on Monday.
Voshel said she went into the class knowing the value of defending oneself but hoped to learn more.
“I just think it’s important to be safe and be able to defend yourself, if something happens, because you never know what could happen, even if you’re just like walking home from class or something,” she said.
When Mulhollen teaches a class, he talks to the audience to see what situations they find themselves in and covers those that are most common, such as people with safety concerns walking home at night or people who are coming out of an abusive relationship.
“My passion is to be able to have people, give people an option to be able to defend themselves, and teach them something that is practical,” Mulhollen said.
He teaches the 5 Phases of Self-Defense, which are awareness, voice, positioning, physical assault and grabs and hold. Mulhollen said he teaches these “so people understand that a lot of things have to occur before the physical assault actually happens.”
Vatke said DSD also teaches kids who have been bullied and they learn how to defend themselves emotionally and physically and how to avoid situations where they might be bullied.
“The kids that go through our program, they’re not worried about going to physical, so they’re not intimidated by the verbal threat and it basically just cuts it off. And they tend not to react to the verbal threat, or they react in a way that’s like, you know, a show of strength back. But they’re not intimidated by it, and it typically ends it,” he said.
Vatke added that criminals pick their victims based partially on how they walk and carry themselves, so people should stay aware and look confident when they are out and about.
“Knowing those skills actually makes it less likely that you will need to use the skills,” he said.