Self-defense workshop held for local women

Retired Oswego County Sheriff’s Deputy Tracie Pluff-Gioia puts a choke hold on a young girl during Monday’s self-defense event at the Fulton First United Methodist Church. By pulling down Pluff-Gioia’s forearm, the young woman was able to create breathing room and protect her trachea.

Retired Oswego County Sheriff’s Deputy Tracie Pluff-Gioia puts a choke hold on a young girl during Monday’s self-defense event at the Fulton First United Methodist Church. By pulling down Pluff-Gioia’s forearm, the young woman was able to create breathing room and protect her trachea.

by Nicole Reitz

“Don’t be lured into thinking that nothing ever bad happens in Fulton,” said Fulton Police Department Investigator Aimee May.

She gave this message to women that attended a self-defense event held Monday at the Fulton First United Methodist Church.

May, along with Ann Beaupre of the Syracuse Police Department, spoke to a group of women about victimization profiling and the warrior mindset. The event, organized by Ellen Russell Marshall of Off Broadway Dance Studio and Sheila Simpson of Noah’s Christian Nursery School, was held in light of the murder of Liverpool woman Lori Bresnehan.

“Violent crimes happens here, it just doesn’t happen on the frequency that Syracuse sees,” said May. As a Police Officer for the City of Fulton, she has answered homicides, forcible rapes and drug issues. “We are a small community, and with that comes a false sense of security. This is a good community, but it doesn’t mean that we’re excluded from crime.”

May discussed ways to lessen the likelihood of being made a victim. Some factors that make people potential victims include flashing a lot of money at the check out or ATM, walking alone, wearing expense jewelry and having poor posture. “Criminals look for women who are easier to overcome,” said May.

Perpetrators most often target people whose walk lacks organized movement and flowing motion. Also those who are not aware of their surroundings. May suggested that runners think twice about listening to music through earbuds, since a person cannot hear if a attacker is approaching. Women, especially young girls, should avoid texting while walking.

May recommended pepper spray attached to a keychain as one tool to be used against an attacker. Carrying pepper spray is legal, but it cannot be used unlawfully against another person.

Beaupre suggested carrying a Maglight flashlight in a car’s glove compartment, which is heavy enough to seriously hurt someone.

Another way to avoid being a victim is to not let strangers stop you, either by asking for the time or directions. “As soon as you stop and engage them (a criminal), now they have their opportunity,” said May. “We tell our kids all the time don’t talk to strangers, but somewhere along the line we forget that.”

The biggest piece of advice May gave women was to always project confidence; make brief eye contact with those around you without staring or looking scared.

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