Domestic violence victim launches free self-defence classes

SESMA Women's Free Self Defence Class

A free women's self-defence workshop has been set up to help women feel safer - with Stacy Bradley, centre and sensei Lynda, right. - Credit: Stacy Bradley

Women are being given the chance to learn how to defend themselves courtesy of a martial arts studio - and it's completely free of charge.

The initiative is being lead by Taverham's Stacy Bradley, 35, who says the topic is close to her heart.

She said: "It's something I'm seriously passionate about.

"I've been in a domestic violence relationship and I lived in fear for a very long time.

"I don't want anyone else to have to feel like that.

"With evenings getting darker now and women just not feeling safe in general, we are trying to help make a difference."

The classes is held at South Eastern School of Martial Arts (SESMA) in Drayton.

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Wayne Baker, master instructor at SESMA, said: "It has been great to see the difference in attendee's demeanour and confidence when having attended a workshop.

"They go way buzzing and wanting to learn more."

Women will learn how to be aware of danger around them as well as de-escalation techniques and strikes and releases

Women will learn how to be aware of the dangers around them as well as learn de-escalation techniques and various strikes and releases. - Credit: Stacy Bradley

Stacy originally started taking part in the class but is now doing her own self-defence course to help deliver the workshops alongside Wayne.

She said: "There's so much demand for self-defence because of an incident which happened recently in the area.

"We received an influx of women who were worried about walking alone which gave me the idea to get in contact with Wayne."

And the workshop has gone from strength to strength - attracting more than 120 women so far.

The classes are free thanks to donations via local businesses.

With any additional funding Stacy has teamed up with Dawn's New Horizon (DNH) charity to provide CCTV cameras to those in need of them. 

Lorraine Curston, founder of DNH, said: "These cameras will make a huge difference to victims. 

"I myself have been able to capture evidence from a camera which led to my perpetrator receiving a warning.” 

Stacy Bradley and Wayne Baker with CCTV cameras

Stacy Bradley and Wayne Baker, with CCTV cameras, available through Dawn's New Horizon charity. - Credit: Stacy Bradley

Anyone can apply for a CCTV camera from the charity and are not required to attend the class. 

The course teaches a number of de-escalation techniques as well as identifying certain dangers including different strikes and releases. 

Stacy added: "At the end of the day we want to empower people to feel safe." 

SESMA self-defence classes run every month with up to 18 attendants at once. 

The course teaches a number of de-escalation techniques as well as identifying certain dangers including different strikes and releases.

Stacy added: "At the end of the day we want to empower people to feel safe."

SESMA self-defence classes run every month with up to 18 attendants at once.

Tips for being alert to potential danger

Stacy said: "I now reverse into a parking space.

"It sounds silly, but if you think you're being followed by someone you can get straight into the car and drive straight out.

"It reduces the risk of someone having an opportunity to get to you or the car if you're trying to reverse out of somewhere."

She continued: "Regular household items can also be used to defend yourself.

"This could be something like house keys or even deodorant."

The final tip from Stacy is that "abusive partners will try and separate you from any friends and family".

She added: "I always say to my friends if they are being abused, we both need to act like nothing has happened between each other until you're away or have got help.

"Because once an abuser realises someone else knows about them, they'll try even harder to divide their partner from others."