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On Saturday around 5 p.m., Glens Falls resident Amber Lynch said she was out for her usual walk on the bike path in Glens Falls from Sandford Street to the bridge above Quaker Road, when a man exposed himself in front of her.

Lynch said she pulled out her cell phone and told the man she was calling the authorities, at which point he ran off into the woods. She said the experience was scary, and it made her afraid for what else could have happened.

"I'm angry now, because I feel like I can't walk the bike path and exercise on my own without getting someone to walk with me," she said.

Many women who have been or worry about being the victim of an attack look to self-defense classes to feel more empowered.

Craig MacDonald, a black belt and grand master at Glens Falls Tae Kwon Do in South Glens Falls, said he's had quite a few women take his classes because they've been attacked. Still, nothing prepares you for reality, except reality, he said.

"One girl was attacked in her room at school. She took a six-week course and said, 'You've given me my life back.' It's the helplessness that gets you," MacDonald said.

At a self-defense class on Wednesday at Pai's Tae Kwon Do in Saratoga Springs, the participants were there for a variety of reasons.

Cindy Green, 60, of Fort Edward, said she signed up simply because she works alone and late at night.

Before Master Kwang Pai showed the women in the class a few moves to get away from an attacker, Saratoga County Sheriff's Deputy John Stevenson spoke about things all women should do as precautionary measures.

"Wherever you're going to go, our suggestion to you is to think ahead and plan ahead," he said. Stevenson advised the women to spend a few extra minutes driving around to find a spot closest to the entrance.

"Never ever, ever should a lone female to be in the furthest reaches of a parking lot. I'd rather see you park on the grass or in a spot where you'd get a ticket. If you get a ticket, so what," he said.

In today's world, Stevenson said you have to be aware of your surroundings. Whenever possible, he said to travel in pairs. And if you are grabbed or attacked by someone, Stevenson said the first thing to do is draw attention to yourself.

"I don't care if you sound funny. At all costs, bring attention to yourself. Scream as loud as you can," he said.

Master Pai's class teaches that there are five areas where every human being is weak.

"It doesn't matter if you are a body builder," Pai said.

The first area is the eyes. Even if someone is choking you, Pai said, your hands are still free. Just putting your thumb into someone's eye is going to cause pain, he said.

"You could gouge it right out. Especially you ladies with the pretty nails. Those would work well," he said.

The other target areas are the nose, the neck, the ears and the groin.

Hitting any of these areas with enough force will slow someone down, Pai said long enough for you to break away and run to a safe location.

The majority of people who are attacked are not paying attention to their surroundings, said Alycia McDermott, domestic violence program director for the Mechanicville area who was at Pai's class.

McDermott said you should always let a friend or loved one know where you are going.

"Not because you aren't your own woman; it's that if you don't get from point A to point B in a certain amount of time, there is a place for someone to start looking for you," she said.

McDermott told Pai's class to err on the side of rude and cautionary.

"We're sharing the world with a whole bunch of people you don't know and can't trust. It's OK to judge someone at first glance and to trust your gut instincts. Your gut picks up on the things your eyes have yet to see," she said.

Women in the area who have been the victim of domestic violence, rape or a sexual assault can call 792-4305 or (866) 307-4086.


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