DeKALB | Helping Hands is holding a “Girls Fight Back” self-defense program next week.
Latasha Bennett, president of Helping Hands and coordinator of the program, said it is usually only held in the Stevenson residence halls but is going to be held from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Duke Ellington Ballroom of the Holmes Student Center on Thursday, March 8.
Bennett said the move was made to a bigger venue in an attempt to accommodate more people in the wake of the death of NIU student Antinette “Toni” Keller.
“We have this stereotypical idea that sexual assault only happens at night, but in reality it can happen anytime,” Bennett said.
The event is free but students must show their NIU OneCard, Bennett said. She said she decided to start the program because she has personal experience with what it feels like to be sexually assaulted.
“I wasn’t prepared when it happened to me,” Bennett said. “I want others to be [prepared] and be informed about daily personal safety.”
Jordan Habenschuss, sophomore family, consumer and nutrition sciences major, said she likes the idea that the event is free.
“A lot of people can’t afford to pay for it,” Habenschuss said. “It’s something that could come in handy no matter where you are on campus.”
Bennett said the program is typically held just once a semester. She said there will be smaller seminars held throughout the rest of this semester, but the dates had not yet been set.
She added that the program is funded by the Student Association and the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management.
“I had to lobby to get this program funded,” Bennett said. “I am glad that everyone was excited about the program and eager to help.”
Girls Fight Back is a national program that offers workshops and seminars on how women can defend themselves from potential attackers.
Danielle Duma, junior family, consumer and nutrition sciences major, said people need to be more aware.
“I know a lot of people who think they are generally safe,” Duma said. “They just don’t think that it can happen to them.”