Austin self-defense class adapts to recent sexual assaults

AUSTIN (KXAN) — People in North Austin are taking steps to protect themselves following a string of sexual assaults in the area. So far, no arrests have been made. Six different cases have been reported since the end of December.

Police are not giving us specific locations of the attacks because it is an ongoing investigation. Once again Wednesday, officers made a plea for someone to come forward.

Lt. Gena Curtis from APD Violent Crimes told KXAN,”We have incidents ranging from attempted sexual assault, to assault, to robbery. That’s why I don’t want to paint a picture of this predator and that people are only thinking one thing. The gamut right now is wide open.”

The description is somewhat vague, because of the way the suspect carries out these attacks. Police say he attacks from behind, and covers his face with a hoodie or bandana. Police also say the man is Hispanic and speaks English, but they have not provided a more detailed description.

As police gather information in their search for that suspect, many in the area are making sure they know how to protect themselves.

When adrenaline spikes one of three things can happen. It’s called the fight, flight or freeze response. Lions Krav Maga in North Austin teaches people to do anything but freeze when under attack.

“Research shows that if you do anything to struggle, it’s correlated to reducing the severity or even ending the attack altogether,” said Katie Jackson.

She says a theme of this class and in their monthly women’s defense class is what to do when someone attacks from behind, similar to the attacks happening in North Austin. They even tailor it to the 5’7″ to 5’9″ stature, the suspected man’s height.

“Being aware of your body and your surroundings and how you are worth fighting for. You are worth protecting,” said Jackson.

The suspect also attacks his victims with a knife, something Lions also trains for. Whether you’ve learned the moves or not. She says it’s important to scream, fight back, do anything, but freeze.

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