BY PENNY GULLIVER

Self-defence should be part of everyone’s life to build safety confidence and self-esteem.

Homophobic attacks are still rife, with a viciousness reflecting the overwhelming hostility felt by some sectors living outside the Rainbow Belt.

Self-defence classes help participants realise there is some recognition that one day they may be targeted because of their perceived sexuality.

Of course, what happens is different for gay men and lesbians -” gay men are more often bashed while lesbians are often sexually assaulted. Of course, nothing is concrete and circumstance and opportunity dictate the nature of an attack.

Abuse can happen any time and no place, time or area is safe. Isolation can be in a crowded place, park, beat, pub, car park, main street, nightclub, even your own home.

For lesbians, incidents include being targeted for sexual violence when coming out of venues, being beaten and kicked for showing open affection, and being sexually harassed or assaulted.

Violence against transgendered men and women is often heightened because changing one’s gender is a more radical challenge to social stereotypes.

Sometimes even people from the non-queer community may be targeted for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or for being presumed to be gay because of where they are or how they act.

The key to maximising your safety is to be aware of your surroundings –” what you see, hear, touch, taste or smell can help you predict danger.

If you see people looking at you suspiciously, yelling abuse, or coming into your personal space uninvited, you may be being targeted for some kind of assault. Move to a space where you are not isolated -” shops, pubs, a safe house where friends are or where there are like-minded people who can intervene.

Do a self-defence course to reinforce your physical and psychological safety strategies.

Do something that is going to change your assailant’s assessment of success in the circumstance.

info: There is a free self-defence workshop on Saturday August 15 at 104 Erskineville Rd, Erskineville, 11am-2pm. Details: glmartialarts.com.au, selfprotectionconsultancy.com.au or call Penny Gulliver on 0411 808 451.

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