Coaching to stop assault: Young women learn survival skills at street-defense school

The Montreal Gazette, A-4, Saturday February 16th, 2002


Most high-school students are woefully ignorant about what constitutes sexual assault – whether on the street or in relationships, a personal safety educator says.


“Yes, they know that if someone grabs them and throws them down on the street at knifepoint and starts ripping their clothes off – they know that’s sexual; assault, but there are a lot of gray areas,” said Paul Henry Danylewich, director of White Tiger Street Defense, a Montreal – based personal safety school for women and children.


‘I would say the majority of grade 10 and 11 students we’ve been tracking don’t really have an idea of what sexual assault is.”


About 60 per cent of sexual attacks involve someone whom the victim knows, and about 50 per cent of such attacks occur during dating scenarios,” Danylewich said yesterday.


He alluded to this week’s report that a man who worked at s South Shore elementary school has been charged with a 15 year-old homicide and several counts of sexual assaults on minors.


“I think that’s why it’s important that we educate young people on how to recognize violence, “he said.”

Women age 16 to 24 are three times as likely as other age groups to be sexually assaulted, Danylewich added.


The safety educator made his comments before conducting a workshop on self-defense for a group of students from Chambly Academy High School in Saint Lambert.


White Tiger workshops generally consist 2 to 10 hour programs - each session lasting two hours apiece. Workshop strategies range from detecting potential aggressors to verbal defense mechanisms and physical resistance.

Danylewich, a member of the American Women’s Self Defense Association, is the author of FEARLESS: The Complete Personal Safety Guide for Women”.

The White Tiger workshops also focus on young women at risk of being enmeshed in abusive relationships.


“We want top teach girls to recognize the signs of an abusive personality,” Danylewich said in a phone interview.


“If you’re with somebody who is possessive, jealous – you tell him you’ll be home at 8o’ clock and he calls you at 8:05 wondering where you are; if he-s telling you how to dress; if he doesn’t like your friends; if he’s keeping you away from your family … we want girls to recognize that these types of things are not part of a healthy relationship.”