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Self-Defense Experts Give Tips for Protection Amid Search for Mollie Tibbetts

GRIMES, Iowa  --  More than a week after 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts was reported missing, investigators have not yet ruled out the possibility of the University of Iowa student being abducted.

In the wake of the case, self-defense experts are offering their knowledge to keep both men and women safe.

Blackbelt Hall of Fame inductee Ray Boyer says calling these tips "self-defense" is slightly misleading.

“Most people thought when you hear self-defense you're doing karate and you're kicking and throwing and all that kind of stuff,” said Boyer.

Instead, the eighth degree black belt teaches techniques that can be learned in days or weeks, rather than years.

“Ours is teaching you how to effectively protect yourself and get away. If they can’t see they can’t fight, if they can’t breath they can’t fight, and if they don’t have mobility they can’t fight, so if we can affect one of those three things we can run a long ways away,” he said.

Boyer suggests carrying a flashlight.

“It's blinding. If I shine it here, I can blind somebody, and in that process for them to re-register their eyes, you can be running away. It slows down the process, but also I can use it as an impact weapon. I can shine it in the eye and then strike with it if I need to,” said Boyer.

He says if the assailant is a man, grab the groin; if you carry pepper spray, make sure the wind is at your back before you spray it; and if you're jogging by yourself, be aware.

“Just having one earbud in allows you to hear other things. You may not be able to hear the music, as well, but again, it's for your own personal safety and possibly safety for somebody else,” said Boyer.

Boyer says learning the signs that something is not quite right and avoiding a situation altogether is key, but knowing how to fight back and get away can only help.

“I know as a woman, I am not as strong as men and I don't have the ability to take down a man if I were to be attacked, so I appreciate what he teaches. Even with his background, he teaches me how I can utilize that in real-world techniques that I can use as a woman,” said Grace Pettit.

Pettit is not just a student, but also is part owner of the safety consulting firm from where Boyer teaches.  She says it’s her mission to prevent others from becoming a victim.

“Not only Mollie Tibbetts, but I know there have been recent assaults in the Ames area, and I can’t help but think about if only these young women knew some of the techniques to be aware of their surroundings to try to avoid that in the first place,” said Pettit.

The consulting group, Proactive Resource Consulting, runs out of a studio in Grimes. In addition to holding classes there, Boyer also travels to teach at local sororities and businesses.