BRISTOL, Tenn. - Women learned the skills they need to protect themselves from domestic violence on Wednesday night.
Tennessee is ranked sixth in the country for the number of women killed by men, according to Violence Policy Center, a non-profit trying to reduce violence through research and advocacy. The group ranked Virginia much lower, at 33rd.
Across the country every nine seconds a woman is assaulted or beaten, according to the group Partners Against Domestic Violence.
Bristol's Crisis Center Sexual Assault Program Director, Della McGuire, told us the Rape Aggression Defense class or "RAD" helped her three years ago. "I've gone though my own horrible experiences and had to fight my way out," she said.
Now McGuire is teaching Bristol, Tennessee women to defend themselves as a RAD instructor, as part of the YWCA's Week Without Violence. "It's especially important when we have so much violence and in this area especially, it's higher than national average," McGuire told us.
There were 253,480 reported domestic violence cases in 2010-2012 in Tennessee and women are three times more likely to be victims of domestic violence than men, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
McGuire told us RAD teaches women how to physically defend themselves and what to do if they find themselves in court. "It's kind of a trend so that women are being arrested for defending themselves," she said.
Directors told us 80 percent of victims know their attacker so secrecy is important, it helps with the element of surprise. "Most people don't expect someone to fight back," McGuire told us. "They rely on that passiveness that we're raised to have so being able to take someone by surprise is huge."
Bristol, Tennessee Police officer Greg Brown told us domestic abuse is a big problem in the Tri-Cities area.
He's one of two Bristol Tennessee Police officers helping McGuire instruct the class. Detective Dannielle Eller is the other officer in charge. "Everyday we're answering domestic calls," Brown said.
Part of the solution is changing the way women think in this area, he told us. "That can be outside a grocery store, somebody approaching you and the woman trying to be nice and not be rude," he said.
Brown said isolation should be a red flag for women. "We will talk to the women and they'll say I have not talked to my folks in a year, he has not allowed me to have a phone," Brown told us. "They have to rely on the husband or boyfriend for sources of income. He's the only one who works."
They are able to make a lot of arrests, said Brown. "In Tennessee, the law is written that if an officer perceives that an assault has occurred and can decide who the primary aggressor is they shall make an arrest, which means you will make an arrest," Brown told us.
But Brown said the most important thing women can learn in the RAD classes is how to say no and stand up for themselves.
The class is a four-week program, which will be held again throughout the year.
If you're in an abusive relationship and need help you can call the Crisis Center's 24-hour hotline at 276-466-2312.
The YWCA's week without violence continues until Saturday.