Fort Benning, Ga. - She once lived in fear of being killed by her husband, said Fort Benning Family Advocacy Program Manager Becky Welch as she addressed a group of nearly 50 women.
"I know what it's like to have a shot gun held to my head. You're thinking that it's going to go off at any minute," she said during a self-defense class Friday.

The event was one of many sponsored by Family Advocacy during October as a part of domestic violence awareness month. The center provides information to support Soldiers and families through the prevention of child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault.
"Domestic violence has been around for a long time, but it's a growing problem," Welch said. "Many people wait a long time to get out, and a lot of people are just not aware of the resources in the community."

Columbus State University police officers Cpl. Jason Wade and Lt. Jason Youngblood taught the class defensive techniques to use if they are threatened.

"You've got to fight smart," Youngblood said. "Your number one defense tactic is what's between your ears."

He said most people experience a delay in gross motor skills when attacked, but this type of training prepares you to react, which was Ebony Underwood's goal in attending.
"I'm always thinking about what I can do to help myself and my son," the 28-year-old said. "I want to be ready to perform the techniques comfortably."

Awareness is very important, Wade said.

Women should leave a light on outside their home so that it's not completely dark when they return, and they should always walk with their heads up and make eye contact, he said.

"You want to project an image of self-confidence," Wade said. "An attacker is looking for someone who's weak. They want to dominate you."

Military spouses Sedeina Mefford and Amanda Jurinko, attended the class to make sure they were prepared.

"For eight years, I watched my mother being beaten by my dad," Mefford said. "I believe women should be able to defend themselves."

Welch said many women keep their abuse a secret.

"Because I was a professional starting in my career, I did not want anyone to know what was happening to me," she said. "So I hid it for a long time. I felt like all of it was my fault."

Now, years removed from that experience, Welch said she knows it wasn't her fault and wants to encourage those who are currently in danger.

"Nobody deserves to be abused," she said. "It's been a long and rough road, but I have made it. Sometimes you just wonder how you're going to make it. There's always a way. There's always somebody out there who will listen to you and will help you."

For more information, call Family Advocacy at 706-626-2614.