PEARL RIVER- When Anna Provost heads out to her truck, leaving any location, her head is up, her eyes are moving around and her just-in-case weapon is ready.
"They taught us to hold keys like that should we ever need to protect ourselves," she said, demonstrating an aggressive position. "I hold the one so should somebody come up to me, I can hopefully do something."
Provost learned that several years ago at a Lady Beware self-defense class offered for free by the St. Tammany Sheriff's Office. Recent crimes targeting women, including an attempted kidnapping at the Hammond Walmart last month, and the bizarre case of a man letting himself into the homes of young women in the New Orleans area to lay in bed with them, have sparked her interest to take another one.
"No one can be too careful, too protective of themselves," she said, "I want to be able to defend myself should the need arise, which I hope it never does."
That reasoning is resonating throughout the community, as more than 100 women maxed out the registration list for the Fall class series in one day. The classes cover situational awareness, avoidance techniques, basic self defense moves and weapons tips.
"It's not something to just pin somebody down, we want to teach you to cause enough pain to where you can get away," said instructor Lt. Gary Ranatza with the Sheriff's Office, "We'll teach things like their fingernails... if someone gets a hold of them, they can actually go into their eyes."
"You have to have this vicious streak when you're attacked," he said, "You have to dig deep to get out of it and just fight."
The first step of that fight is learning how to. Though the Fall series is full, a Winter series will be held in January due to the new sheriff increasing the offering to quarterly classes.
(© 2016 WWL)