New Brunswick

How a self-defence workshop is trying to stop domestic violence

Not long after a memorial run in Quispamsis, N.B., honoured victims of domestic violence, the proceeds it raised are helping empower women by teaching them self-defence.

The goal is to help empower women while giving them the skills they need if they face an attacker

For the past two weekends, more than 40 women have been learning self-defence thanks to money raised in memory of domestic violence victims. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

Not long after a memorial run in Quispamsis, N.B., honoured victims of domestic violence, the proceeds it raised are helping empower women by teaching them self-defence.

For the past two weekends, women have learned self-defence techniques at Victory Jiu-Jitsu in nearby Rothesay. The events have been free, thanks to volunteers and the funds raised by the Tanya Shand Memorial Milk and Cookie Run.

Shand was fatally stabbed by her partner in Rothesay in 2013. The third annual memorial run honouring her and four other local victims of domestic violence was held in September.

Over $13,000 has been raised by the event, which has been used for programs to help women escape abusive relationships. Now, some of that money is being used for self-defence.

Julie Shand Ryan said the money raised by the Tanya Shand Memorial Run has been going a long way to help educate people about preventing domestic violence. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

Shand's sister, Julie Shand Ryan, said the first self-defence workshops last weekend had such a good response they needed to hold another.

She said the goal of the workshops is to help empower women while giving them the skills they need if they face an attacker.​

Around 20 women took part in Saturday's event, and after the overwhelming interest, Shand Ryan said more like it will take place in the spring.

Tanya Shand's silhoutte, which tells her story, stands not far from where women were learning how to protect themselves. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

She said the confidence gained at the workshops will help change the power dynamic found in many abusive relationships. She said her sister had low self-esteem, which she said often creates an easy target for abusive partners.

"If we can just get these women to raise their shoulders and come forward, maybe that's all it's going to take to stop an attack," said Shand Ryan.

Wooden silhouette

At the session, there was a wooden silhouette honouring Shand, which included details about her story. Shand Ryan said before the class, they spoke about her sister.

While self-defence is important, it's only one part of what women need to know.

"The education is another important part of it, making women realize that they're worth more, that they don't deserve it, what a healthy relationship is," said Shand Ryan.

Trinda McAlduff demonstrates a jiu-jitsu throw for the class, showing how easily it can equalize the strength of men and women. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

Trinda McAlduff, a Saint John police officer, helped pass on her jiu-jitsu skills to the participants. She said with 46 people having registered for the workshop, that shows there's a lot of demand for self-defence. People were also asking her when they could sign up for more classes.

"Even if they're not going to pick up everything, I want them to pick up one thing," she said.

McAlduff said after the workshop, some women approached her with their personal stories dealing with abuse.

Alyssa Oram saw the event on Facebook and decided she wanted to get more self-defence training. She said if she were to encounter some form of assault in the future, she now felt she had the skills to help defend herself.

"Any women who have this chance to take a self-defence class, especially for this cause, I would really encourage them to do it," said Oram.

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