Marine spouses take action to learn self-defense, rape prevention

Anyone can be a victim when it comes to threats to individual safety and security.
But the Family Readiness Office of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa is trying to help even the odds by offering Marine spouses a rape prevention and self-defense class at MARFOREUR headquarters last month.

Along with Marine Corps Martial Arts Program techniques that were modified specifically for the course, the class emphasized situational awareness, planning ahead, and minimizing risk in real-world situations, such as when at a parking lot or leaving a hotel alone.

“Women can’t fight like men, and Marines can teach MCMAP all day, but that doesn’t mean we will be able to execute it and remember it in [scary] situations,” said Katherine Nelson, the MFE/MFA Family Readiness Officer who also took the class.

“[Women] should know a few basic things to help themselves be more aware when they are alone,” said Nelson. “We find ourselves leaving the post exchange, commissary or school functions alone a lot. We are in a foreign country; things can happen to anyone.”

The course was instructed by Master Sgt. James Hall, the intelligence chief for MARFOREUR and a certified rape-prevention instructor.

Hall has practiced martial arts since he was 6 years old, has been a martial-arts instructor since the age of 15, and, along with a black belt in MCMAP, holds black belts in the disciplines of Ninjutsu, Koppojutsu and Kenpo.

“His passion and knowledge for martial arts is phenomenal,” said Cpl. Christopher Terrell, the assistant MFE/MFA Family Readiness Officer who assisted with teaching the course. The class took the students through real, documented scenarios that dealt with assault, rape and abuse.

“We wanted to emphasize how real-world it is,” Terrell said. “When we gave the different scenarios, the students were surprised that they were situations that really happened, not just made-up training scenarios.”

The students learned various MCMAP techniques most relevant to women, such as moves that are effective against weight-and-strength differences. “[The spouses] realized that these threats really exist, and I noticed the point where they felt really adamant about what was being taught because they [had] never thought about some of these things,” Terrell said.

Both Family Readiness Officers hope to be able to spread the training and knowledge on to all services’ spouses and family members in the future.
“Before the ladies left, we already talked about doing a second class and getting the word out,” Nelson said.

“I feel everyone should take the opportunity to get to a class,” Terrell said. “You can never have too much training in this, whether you’re in a uniform or not.”

For more information on possible future rape prevention and self-defense classes, contact the Marine Forces Europe Family Readiness Office at