ECSO to hold defense class

Published 2:13 pm Sunday, June 27, 2010

All women in Atmore are being given the opportunity to learn how to protect themselves from attackers.

In an effort to educate women about self defense, Sheriff Grover Smith and Chief Deputy Mike Lambert, agreed to conduct some helpful classes at the Atmore Community Hospital. The hospital’s women’s auxiliary planned to promote two different classes in self defense.

On Wednesday, Auxiliary members and retired members gathered at the hospital to listen and watch as the sheriff taught them some ways in which they can defend themselves.

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“You must be able to do anything in order to save your life,” Smith said. “There are many ways that one can use to keep an attacker from what he intends to do. I am giving all of you whistles, which you carry on your person. They can be used to summon help and scare the would-be attacker away.”

Smith said that everyone who carries a cell phone has a direct line to get help.

“Put 911 into your call list.” Smith said. “Then when you are in an uneasy setting, dial 911 and hold your finger down on the send button. It will only dial if you release the button. Call the emergency number if you even think that you are in danger. I would rather answer 1,000 calls than for you to get hurt.

“If you decide to carry a gun, think about using mace,” he added. “More people are killed by their own guns, so I would recommend that you have mace instead. Guns kill, but mace will only make the attacker hurt really bad. Be aware of who you are and where you are at all times. Never, ever get in a car to be taken to a secondary place. If you do, you will most likely die at that place.”

There is one person in Atmore who is willing to share her story of almost being killed in an attack in Mobile about 10 years ago. Sheryl Vickery, director of the Atmore Chamber of Commerce, walked out into a dark parking lot one night and what happened next was to change her life forever.

“I was walking to my car when I heard the sound of footsteps running on the pavement,” Vickery said. “The next thing I knew it, my attacker was holding me and pointing a gun at my head. I had to rely on information that I had seen on television not long before the attack. I was not an everyday watcher of Oprah, but I did happen to see one program about self defense. The main thing I learned was to never, never, never get into a car to be taken to a second location. I knew that if I let him put me into the car, I would never get out of it alive. I kept begging him not to kill me and make my children motherless. I don’t even have children, but I thought that maybe he had a mother or children of his own. We all hear that rape is all about the attacker having power over his victim, so I called him sir all through the ordeal. I also followed his eyes and tried to know what was coming next. I had already followed another survivor rule by making myself go limp and sinking to the ground. That is supposed to make it harder for the attacker, but in my case I was dragged across the parking lot. At some point, I just knew that I was going to be killed. I was almost ready to give up, but I had a cross around my neck that kept hitting me in the head and I began to slip into unconsciousness. I started seeing the face of my mother and a picture of my dogs and other things that I hold dear. I don’t know what happened, but I knew that my fight was not over. I tried my best to keep from being abducted until someone came out into the parking lot. I screamed for them to call the police. That whole experience changed my life forever and I will never be the same. For years I have talked very little about the night I almost died, and sometimes feel that what I know should be shared with others. There are a few people that know about it, but I think it is time for me to talk about it and tell what happened to me, so it might help someone else from going through the same thing. I am a lot stronger today, because I lived through it and I know that I got the best of my attacker and lived to talk about it.

Vickery said the police told her that another woman was abducted and killed just two days after her attack, and it may have been the same man.

There will be another self defense class on Wednesday, June 30. It will be held at the hospital and anyone is invited to come out and learn something that just could save your life, or that of someone you love. There are many tips that will be taught about what to do in this type of situation.