Libraries are often known as places to keep quiet.
But on July 20 at the Puyallup Public Library, a group of more than 20 teen girls were one exception.
As part of a two-hour, free self-defense and safety education class, teen girls and their guardians were invited to learn how to identify potentially dangerous situations and learn basic self-defense moves and techniques.
One of the tips they learned? That responding verbally to an attack can help them.
“You’ve always been told what? To be quiet. We’re about to change that today,” said Jim Baylor, who instructed the class with his wife, Sandra.
That’s what gives you the power — yelling as loud as you can, ‘No!’
Sandra Baylor, self-defense instructor
“That’s what gives you the power — yelling as loud as you can, ‘No!,’” Sandra said.
The group then proceeded to learn how to strike an approaching attacker and seven steps to escape attacks from the front and back, yelling “No!,” with every strike.
For Jim and Sandra, who have been teaching the course as part of the Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) System for 20 years, the main goal is always empowerment.
“A third of the 6,000 women that we’ve taught are survivors of rape and domestic violence,” Sandra said. “When they walk out that door — the empowerment is just amazing.”
A third of the 6,000 women that we’ve taught are survivors of rape and domestic violence. When they walk out that door — the empowerment is just amazing.
The couple met at a RAD class at Rice University in Texas. The classes were being offered at night, and as department coordinator for the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Sandra decided to attend.
Jim, who was in law enforcement at the time, was teaching the class there.
“I saw what it did for women and I asked to be an instructor,” she said.
In 2000, Sandra and Jim married. When Jim was offered a job teaching in Washington state three and a half years ago, they moved to Graham. They found there weren’t many safety and self-defense classes being taught in their area, so they started offering classes for free. Usually, the class they offer is 15 hours long, teaching in-detail defense moves and techniques.
“It’s easy things to learn — doesn’t matter if you’re heavy or thin, older or younger,” Sandra said.
Through their years as instructors, stories of empowerment from the women they helped stayed with them. At the Puyallup library, they hoped to help teens, too.
“This class gives you the realization that you can fight back,” Sandra said to the class.
This class gives you the realization that you can fight back.
The class for teenage girls was offered as part of the library’s Teen Summer Reading program, which also offers a self-defense class for teenage boys. Puyallup resident and mother Dacia LaRue attended the class with 13-year-olds Lauren and Maddy after seeing a flyer about it at the library.
“I’d like them to have proper techniques and knowledge,” she said.
“It’s a good thing to know. Anything can happen,” added Maddy.
After the class, Dacia said she learned a lot.
“There were a lot of misconceptions that I had,” she said. “I would like to be able to take the full (course).”
“The seven steps were the most useful,” added her daughter, Lauren. “It’s something to memorize and fall back on.”
Jim and Sandra continue to offer free classes as long as their location is organized. For more information about the classes, Sandra is available at firstname.lastname@example.org.