Hinsdale police advise, shout, don’t scream, for help
Kate Burns (left) puts Tara Andrews into a choke hold as the Hinsdale residents learn how to fend off an attacker. | Rob Hart~Sun-Times Media
To avoid being a victim:
Be aware of your surroundings and stay alert.
Stand tall and walk confidently. Don’t show fear.
Don’t wear headphones or ear buds when walking, running or bicycling. You may not hear an offender approaching.
Don’t go out alone at night.
Keep your cellular phone charged and carry it with you.
Have money for cab fare or someone you can call for a ride, if you want to end a date early.
Do not accept a ride from an acquaintance or new friend if you are alone.
Lock your car doors and park in well-lighted areas.
If you are attacked in a parking lot, squeeze under a car and call police with your cellular phone.
To get free from an attacker:
Strike spots that will cause the most pain, such as gouging out the eyes, kneeing the offender in the groin, stomping on his foot or hitting him in the throat. Bend your fingers in and hit with the heel of your hand.
If someone is choking you, put your fists together and bring your forearms up between the attacker’s arms and push them apart.
Yell “Call 911,” “No,” or “Fire” very loudly to attract help, do not simply scream.
Don’t be caught by surprise. Rehearse mentally, verbally and physically.
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:18AM
HINSDALE — Hearing the giggling coming from behind the closed door, a passerby would not expect that the girls inside were learning how to fight off an attacker.
But by the end of the 2.5-hour class in the Hinsdale police station, the giggles and nervous laughter were replaced by loud shouts of “No, Stop.”
About 30 high school- and college-age girls attended Hinsdale Police Officer Michael Coughlin’s safety and self-defense class Aug. 16.
Coughlin spent the first half of the class explaining to the girls how to avoid being in dangerous situations by staying alert and making sure your cellular phone battery is charged. He demonstrated moves the young women could do to break free of someone who grabbed them.
“The main objective is to get free of the attacker,” Coughlin said. “Then you can run away and call for help.”
The girls practiced the maneuvers first on each other and then on the police officers who either held up pads or wore protective gear to blunt the students’ kicks and blows.
Rachel Parks of Oak Brook said the class taught her helpful ways to protect herself.
“For sure,” the 16-year-old said. “You have to be prepared.”
Coughlin had to remind the girls to yell out words, such as “Help” and “No, if they were trying to get away from someone they feared. People will respond quicker to those words than if they hear someone screaming, because teenagers sometimes shriek even when they’re not in danger.
“I would be speechless. I would probably panic,” said Kristina Stan, 18, of Hinsdale. But thanks to the class, “If I’m attacked, at least I have a few moves I could do to get away.”
Larissa May, who lives in Western Springs, knows how she might respond to a threatening situation. She was mugged last summer in Chicago.
“I went to St. Ignatius,” May, 18, said. “I was walking home from a pizza place. I thought it made sense to walk near a bar where there would be a lot of people.
“A guy came up to me and said, ‘Give me your money or come with me.’”
She gave him her wallet from her pocket, and ran away.
“I just remember running as fast as I can. I was able to get in a cab,” she said.
Although the robber did grab May’s arm, she believes, and Coughlin confirmed, she did the right thing by obeying his order and not trying to fight with him.
“You have to be logical,” May said. “If I had tried to make a physical strike on him, I don’t know how it would have turned out. And my phone was dead, just like (Coughlin) warned us about.”