ENMU hosts rape awareness forum

By Tony Parra

More than 130 women at Eastern New Mexico University were taught how to fight back and some walked away feeling more comfortable if they ever have to deal with an attacker.

Erin Weed, a motivational speaker for Girls Fight Back, informed a large crowd of college female students about attackers’ tendencies, made them aware that women are often vulnerable and should be aware of their surroundings. Weed also taught them to fight back if they are attacked. Weed gave fighting demonstrations with the help of a Shem Peachey, a male ENMU student in the ENMU Ballroom on Wednesday night.

“I enjoyed the fighting part and the way she interacted with the crowd,” Hillary Gintowt, an ENMU freshman, said. Gintowt said she used to be in karate, but learned some extra tips about self-defense on Wednesday night.

Weed said she started to take up self-defense courses because of a tragic event in her life. Weed lost one of her best friends, Shannon McNamara. McNamara was murdered while fighting off an attacker in her apartment.

“I learned the hard way because I lost a friend,” Weed said. Weed said after McNamara was murdered she saw an old letter from McNamara and in the letter it said, ‘Weed I will never forget you’. “It hit me like a ton of bricks. She would remain 21 years old. I had never taken a self-defense class.”

The story about McNamara’s death due to an attacker impacted audience members.

“When she talked about her friend it showed how much it meant to her,” Monica Jasso, an ENMU junior, said. “It’s her reason for speaking around the nation and about fighting back. A lot of girls don’t know how to protect themselves.”

Both Gintowt and Jasso said they thought about self-defense and protecting themselves more during the fall semester because of the rumors of an attacker on campus. Fliers and e-mails were distributed around the ENMU campus warning students about a rapist.

Police and ENMU officials said the information was misleading.

Still the rumors caused some females to think more about protecting themselves and be more aware of their surroundings.

“The rumors about a rapist walking around campus made me think about stuff like that,” Gintowt said.

Jasso said it caused some women to be paranoid while they were walking around campus.

“It was scary walking around campus,” Jasso said. “It’s scary walking on campus because some areas are not lit up.”

Weed specializes in realistic fighting scenarios. Her training includes: Car jacking scenarios, multiple assailant attacks, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, adrenaline stress fighting, kickboxing, knife defense, firearm training and criminal psychology. Weed is certified by the American Women’s Self Defense Association.