Could you survive a sexual assault attack?

Instructor teaches would-be victims how to fight back

By Francesca Amiker - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - After an accused rapist was arrested Friday in Mandarin, a local self-defense instructor showed News4Jax some tactics that could save a victim's life.

Sion Henry, 25, is accused of attacking a woman behind a shopping center in Bartram Park last Friday. He has been charged with sexual battery and robbery.

Police said they're certain they “removed a dangerous person from the streets of Jacksonville.”

But attackers are still out there, so a self-defense instructor showed News4Jax a few ways victims can fight back when they're attacked.

“It's always hard to see a student break down, because the stuff they learned in class often brings back those memories,” said Chris Oklevitch, owner of Women's Defense Company. “It's tough to watch.”

Victims of sexual assault are all too familiar to Oklevitch. He said he founded the Women's Defense Company four years ago because of the growing amount of crime in the area.

He said that when he learned a woman had accused a man of attacking her less than a mile from his business, the news did not surprise him.

“A lot of people always think the crimes happen in bad areas or in the middle of the night, when really they happen everywhere,” Oklevitch said.

According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office report, Henry followed a woman leaving the grocery store to walk home, grabbed her stroller with her baby son inside, and threatened to push it into a retention pond. He then dragged the victim onto a mattress and sexually assaulted her while continuing to make threats against her baby, police said.

Oklevitch said every situation is different, but there are some tactics to learn that could save a victim's life.

The first is to take a stand.

“We're taking our strong leg, we're taking a step back and we're going to lead our body away from the attacker,” Oklevitch said. “Our hands come up, and we're going to yell, 'No!' like we mean it, sending that message, 'I'm not too afraid to speak back to you. I'm not too afraid to look at you, and I'm ready to fight if I have to.'”

The second tactic is a palm strike, used in a fight stance. Oklevitch said would-be victims should be sure to use their entire body.

“As soon as he is in range, I would go ahead, and I'm going to use my strong hand, my back hand, and I'd push and pop them right in the chin, and as soon as I do it I'm yelling, 'No!'” Oklevitch explained.

If that doesn't work, Oklevitch said victims should fight for their life by going for vulnerable targets on the attacker's body, never allowing themselves to be an easy target.

“Sensitive spots or vulnerable targets: eyes, nose, chin, throat, groin,” Oklevitch said. “And say, 'No!' every time we do a strike.”

According to the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network, 68 percent of rapes are not reported to police.

If you're ever faced with this crime, call 911 or First Coast Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.

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