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Knocked down, dragged into the woods, and almost raped. It’s any woman’s worst nightmare.

In that type of situation, it may seem like the perpetrator has the obvious upper hand, but when it comes to self defense, awareness, not necessarily strength, may be your most important tool.

Cherie Gallo owns Northeast Martial Arts in Austintown.

“We make plans for everything else in life,” she said. “We plan dinner. We plan what we’re going to wear to a party, but a lot of people don’t make any plans around defending themselves.”

Defending yourself comes down to leveraging your body against your attackers, who often grab their victims in ways that appear to immobilize them.

Tony Rinaldi owns the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Self Defense Academy in Boardman. Tuesday, he demonstrated how to break free from that hold.

“She’s going to use her hips, which are stronger than my arms to turn her heel to the inside,” she said. “Once that happens, I really don’t have great control, and she’s going to use her other foot to push on my arms and pull her leg free.”

But that doesn’t mean you’re safe.

“A large part of that is having the awareness of the points of their body that actually, physically, can attack you still as you basically disengage,” said Dr. Ruth Rivera, who teaches self defense.

When looking for a self defense seminar, it’s important you take one where you can actually strike something so you know what it feels like.

The class will also allow you to form a game plan to keep in the back of your mind, though instructors say don’t forget one of your most basic instincts: screaming.

“When we scream, we force out of that built up ‘Oh my God what do I do,’ and then it allows you to relax and focus on what you need to do to get out of that scenario,” said Gallo.