Self-defense classes held amid Cheshire assaults

New Haven

CHESHIRE, Conn. (WTNH) — Women in Cheshire are learning new ways to protect themselves. A martial arts studio offered a free self-defense class on Sunday to women who live in Cheshire.

Several women have been groped or pushed to the ground while walking or jogging in town over the past few months. There have been incidents in the area of Strathmore Drive and by Lock 12 Historical Park. Police are still looking for the young man they believe is responsible.Related Content: Cheshire police search for teen accused of groping several women

Cheshire Councilwoman Liz Linehan organized the class at Bergamo’s Martial Arts.

“I had been taking self-defense classes here at Bergamo’s and so I thought, what better way to empower women and make them feel safer?” said Linehan.

For an hour and a half women of all ages learned how to avoid dangerous situations and how to escape if they are attacked.

Ralph Bergamo is the owner and grandmaster of the studio. For him, self-defense is personal.

“A father of three daughters, I’ve always felt it was very important that they were able to protect themselves and be aware of the dangers in today’s society,” he said.Related Content: Cheshire police offering self-defense class

Women spending time outside in Cheshire this afternoon say they are more aware and that they’re thinking about safety. Many didn’t go out alone. They say they’re not going to live in fear.

“I’m prepared,” said Leigh Aronin who was walking near Lock 12 Historical Park on Sunday afternoon. “If anyone comes my way I’ll be ready.”

“I just make sure that I’m aware of my surroundings and I’m aware of who’s around me,” said Skylar Smith who rollerblades in Cheshire several times a week. “I’m aware of if anyone’s in the parking lot, if anyone’s watching me.”

Now the hope is that self-defense classes will teach women what to do if something does happen. They’ll feel more confident and they’ll be able to protect themselves.

“It’s always about empowering yourself,” said Linehan. “The best thing you can learn to do when you’re in a situation is to learn to trust your gut.”

Bergamo’s Martial Arts will offer another free self-defense class on September 11. For more information call the studio at (203) 272-3113 or Ralph Bergamo at (203) 444-4322.

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