Valdosta defense class helps empower women, teaches risk reduction skills

Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 5:13 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 14, 2021 at 10:30 PM EDT
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VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - A Valdosta State University (VSU) police sergeant is on a mission to teach women how to defend themselves.

The purpose of this class is to help women get out of a bad situation, and the class itself is continuing to grow every time it’s hosted.

The SAFE Program helps teach women how to defend themselves.
The SAFE Program helps teach women how to defend themselves.(WALB)

What happens in this women’s defense class stays in this class. All the moves and tips shared stay amongst women so they can have the defense advantage.

Sergeant Heidi Browning with the VSU Police Department has been teaching S.A.F.E, or Self-defense Awareness and Familiarity Exchange, for about two years.

The two-hour program helps women learn awareness techniques and how to defend themselves in various situations.

“If they grab you by the arm, how to just hit them to get off. A lot of it is if they are walking by and they grab you. I’ve seen it happen in clubs or anything like that. We teach them that, we teach them if someone comes behind and grabs them, what do we do. A lot of people don’t think about that,” said Browning.

The SAFE Program helps teach women how to defend themselves.
The SAFE Program helps teach women how to defend themselves.

The class is open to women on campus and in the community.

Browning said she was shocked at the turn-out from the last class when about 50 people showed up.

She said each class keeps getting bigger and bigger, showing the importance of these techniques and tips.

“I almost feel like a lot of it is, we’re just seeing how things are going these days. It doesn’t matter who you are, I don’t care what gender or anything, it’s just we’re starting to see a lot of things change in the world. So, they’re more interested in learning and taking care of themselves,” said Browning.

Browning shared a story about a student who was inappropriately slapped walking by and didn’t know what to do at that moment. She said she helps teach the class how to find their voice in situations that can catch you off guard and find the confidence to stand up for themselves.

You are your best defense.

“It doesn’t matter who you are, what training you have, that kind of stuff throws you off, and this might help you get that confidence to fight back. I love doing anything where I can get out there in the community and teach somebody something new that might save their life,” said Browning.

Browning plans to host classes once a month. The next one will be Sept. 22. You can click here to sign up.

She also hosts classes off-campus for different companies that are interested.

For more information, you can reach out to her at

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