Local church hosting free self defense class for women

Published 10:55 am Wednesday, March 2, 2016

A local church is reaching out to the community in hopes helping women find the confidence to protect themselves from danger.
St. Thomas Episcopal Church of Elizabethton is hosting a Women Only Self Defence Class on march 19 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. The instructor for the class will be Detective Angie Lovegrove of the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office.
“The reason we are wanting to do this is two-fold,” said Tara Thomas, one of the organizers for the class. “It’s a community outreach for the church, but more importantly it’s about educating young women about maintaining their safety in their community and when they go off to college.”
“It’s about keeping them safe, especially with the stories you hear in the news about what is happening on college campuses,” Thomas added. “This is for rape prevention.”
While young women are encouraged to attend the class, Thomas said the program is open for women of any age to attend.
“Detective Lovegrove says anyone from 12 to 70 years old,” Thomas said. “If you can still move then you can do these techniques.”
“The reason she cuts it off at 12 is because she doesn’t want to have to explain what rape is to a small child,” Thomas added.
Thomas has taken part in a training by Lovegrove before through her work with the Department of Children’s Services.
“We invited her to come speak at the Department of Children’s Services because some of our employees had been attacked and injured and after attending her class I thought ‘I want my child to know this,’” Thomas said. “Sadly in my job I see this all the time so I worry about my own children.”
No men are allowed to attend the class, which Thomas said is at the request of Lovegrove. In addition to making the environment more comfortable for women to discuss rape and learn the defense techniques, Thomas said Lovegrove does not want men learning the techniques to possibly use against women.
Having a female instructor not only helps to put the women attending the class at ease, Thomas said it also helps to boost their confidence in knowing that they too can defend themselves.
“She’s my size,” Thomas said of Lovegrove. “She is a normal, five-foot, four-inch tall woman and she can do this,” Thomas said. “Seeing that she can do this lets me know that I can do this.”
The event is free and open to the public, however Thomas said advance reservations are required to attend.
“It’s by reservation because we have limited space in the church,” Thomas said, adding the class will be limited to 30 participants so there is room for those attending to practise the techniques they learn. “Hopefully we would like to do this again in a few months or maybe next year. It will depend on the need, but it looks like there is a need.”
The class will take place at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, located at 815 E. Second St., in Elizabethton. Those wishing to attend are asked to make a reservation by calling Tara Thomas at 423-297-8016 or by emailing her at tarathomas35@outlook.com. Participants are advised to wear workout clothes and be prepared to try out the techniques Lovegrove will be teaching them.
“If it’s full when you call to make a reservation, you can call the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office and find out when their next class is,” Thomas said, adding the SCSO holds the Women Only Self Defence Class on a regular basis through their department.

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