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Refusing to be victimized

Sharon McNamara was violently murdered on June 12, 2001.

Her death-inspired bereaved friend Erin Weed into traveling across college campuses, giving self-defense lectures to mean andwomen. “Violence really comes down to the bad guy finding the right victim,” said Weed, a nationally certified self-defense expert who came to USF last night to share her violence prevention program for college students.

Weed received a BA from Eastern Illinois University in 1999, and spoke of McNamara as the type of friend she “didn’t need to talk to every day, but had to talk to on my worst.”

McNamara was attacked at her home near the EIU campus in Charleston, Ill., a small, close-knit community with about 10,000 undergraduate students.

Weed said she was inspired by a farewell note she’d received from McNamara when she’d left EIU. It simply read: “I will never forget you.”

“That was the moment that I realized that I was going to spend the rest of my life not forgetting her,” Weed explained.

Weed titled her program “How To Be A Bad Victim,” after hearing one of her trainers, whom she called “Marine Mike,” explain the idea.

“All people are capable of great violence,” explained Weed. “Bad things happen to good people, but we can predict and prevent violent acts.”

Weed recommended that in order to “be a bad victim,” everyone should be aware when walking alone, assess other people’s body language and always do everything to avoid going to a second location with an attacker.

“In training, we call it the second crime scene, because that is what it usually becomes,” Weed said.

Weed also pointed out the common approaches that attackers typically take. She explained basic home security techniques and devices for the common college student.

After her lecture, sponsored by the University Lecture Series, Weed offered a hands-on approach to learning basic self-defense for the females in attendance. She’s named this part of her program “Girls Fight Back.”

“To predict violence you have to trust your intuition,” Weed said. “It has your best interest at heart and is always in response to something.”