A group in Loves Park wants to raise awareness about sexual assault and violence against teenagers. They offered a workshop using martial arts to teach girls how to defend themselves if someone tries to attack them.
"1 in 3 will become a victim of sexual assault in this age category," No Joke Mixed Martial Arts President Richard Whitenack said.
Whitenack was referring to girls and young women ages 12 to 19. This weekend they learned self defense skills.
"Being escorted away from a mall into a car (or) being able to break away from somebody who is taking you," Whitenack said.
These were a few things the class aimed to prevent.
The class was taught by instructor Leslie Stoll. She said the first lesson is to "always be aware".
"They need to be walking around with an attitude that somebody could be out to get them," Stoll said.
Leslie said it's so important for girls and young women to learn self-defense. One of the most powerful weapons they have is their voice.
"A loud person is going to be less of a target," Stoll said.
They also learn how to fight back. More than a dozen took part in the class, including 12-year-old Sophia Cacciapaglia.
"I wanted to come here, because I wanted to be able to protect myself," Sophia said.
Sophia's mom said it's comforting to know her daughter can defend herself at school, at the mall, or out with her friends.
"She needs to have that experience so shes not scared," Denise Cacciapaglia said.
Both Whiteneck and Stoll have daughters, so they offered this course to empower young girls and women.
"It's easy to target a teen, but not one of the ones that's gone though our class," Stoll said.
Self defense classes are every Monday night at 5:30 for $10 a class.