Self-defense classes for women came to UConn through AEPhi this week

Women were taught how to tear throats and bust kneecaps with The Meran Sanchez Home Foundation and Alpha Epsilon Phi (AEPhi) in the University of Connecticut’s Hillel Monday. (File Photo/ The Daily Campus)

Women were taught how to tear throats and bust kneecaps with The Maren Sanchez Home Foundation and Alpha Epsilon Phi (AEPhi) in the University of Connecticut’s Hillel Monday, during a self defense class offered by the foundation.

Many women, including 90 currently in college, attended over the course of the three sessions, Joan Goldstein, an alumna of AEPhi who attended the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, said.

The organization had trained about 95 women prior to coming to UConn, Goldstein said.

“This day has almost doubled the number of girls we’ve trained,” Goldstein said.

The Maren Sanchez Home Foundation was founded in 2016 to empower girls to defend themselves against physical violence and emotional, psychological and verbal manipulation according to its website.

The organization was founded by Donna Sanchez, the mother of Maren Sanchez, a girl who was murdered by a classmate in her school in 2014 after turning him down for the school prom.

“We really wanted to teach girls to reclaim the power that they already have, but that they’ve been taught not to pay attention to,” Sanchez said.

The students were taught by Sally Cadoux, the owner and founder of Athena Empowered, a company that supports women mentally and physically through physical fitness, according to her website.

Cadoux emphasized that the first defense is knowing your environment.

“Prevention awareness is 90 percent of self-defense,” Cadoux said.

Cadoux taught several self-defense techniques such as hitting an attacker's nose with the palm of the hand, boxing the ears, elbowing the ribs and stomping on the top of the ankle.

All of the women practiced the techniques in pairs of two. One woman played the role of an attacker and the other woman played the role of the victim.

“It’s funny when you have to straddle your friend and buck her off, but when you think about it in a real life scenario it’s scary,” Megan Scholtz, a fifth semester studio art major who attended the self-defense class, said. “So it’s good to keep that in mind.”

Every woman has a story, Sanchez said. It could be something as small as a stare from a guy she’s rejected, to something as major as rape, she said.

“From the girl that’s 11, to the woman who’s 70, it’s just something that we have to deal with in life and I think that (anti-harassment) should be a bigger movement,” Sanchez said.

The foundation felt that college students are at the age where teaching self-defense can have a large impact. It was important to reach out to UConn because it’s the state school, Goldstein, a Connecticut resident, said.

After getting in touch with her sorority sister Taryn Weaver, a seventh-semester biology major on a pre-optometry track and Vice President of Risk Management for AEPhi at UConn, everything fell into place, Goldstein said.

“(It took) less than 24 hours,” Goldstein said. “Taryn contacted me and she hit the ground running.”

It’s important for everyone to take self-defense classes because anyone can be a victim, Scholtz said.

“Even if it’s not offered to you, you should go out and find a class,” Scholtz said. “Some people don’t get these kinds of opportunities and it’s too late before they do.”

It’s important for women to spread awareness of what they go through, Sanchez said.

“(Women) have a voice now and I think that voice should get louder,” Sanchez said.

The foundation hopes to return to UConn in the start of 2018  for part two of the course, Goldstein said. The next step after physical defense is defense against psychological manipulation, she said.

Sanchez said she hopes to continue the expansion of her foundation as far as she can.

“I pray that one day, when you hear the (name) Maren Sanchez Home Foundation… it’s going to be like Coke or Pepsi,”  Sanchez said. “You’re going to go ‘oh yeah!’”


Nicholas Hampton is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at nicholas.hampton@uconn.edu.