WESTPORT, Conn. -- Sally Cadoux knew the physical techniques to improve personal safety. The Westport woman felt, however, there were many essential components missing to the personal safety training equation.
Earlier this year, Cadoux launched Athena Personal Safety Training. Through workshops and integrated personal safety training, Cadoux provides valuable education specifically for women of all ages. “I have taken numerous Karate, MMA based self-defense training systems to include RAD, Rape Aggression Defense Systems,’’ Cadoux said.
While all are highly valued and respected disciplines, they are not based on prevention. “Last year I had an epiphany that these trainings are teaching women tactics from the viewpoint once the assault is happening.'' Cadoux said, “Women today should be skilled in prevention based training to reduce these threats and that is why I began to develop a prevention-based program.”
Cadoux said her plan evolved over time. She felt women, and their friends, needed to be more alert to the circumstances and situations around them to reduce the risk of assault. “We have to be mindful of the barrage of information coming at us,’’ she said. “If we are more aware and present, we will be able to prevent many safety issues.”
That’s where Athena differentiates itself from other personal safety programs. While she offers training on physical techniques, her focus is to empower women with mind-body awareness and prevention skills before situations escalate into violence.
“We don’t want to get to get into physical confrontations,’’ Cadoux said. “Once you get there, it’s a very different set of tactics to fight for your safety.”
Sally’s mission to empower women and girls to learn prevention and awareness components first, then to follow up with the physical self-defense training. Athena has pioneered an “Ambassador” program to help create prevention awareness.
“For our prevention training to become impactful, we must create a sisterhood of safety in the community,’’ Cadoux said. “We need to start looking at safety as a community’s responsibility, where we do not stand for crime and violence any more. It’s important for us to provide bystander intervention training to increase social responsibility and minimize aggression.”
Cadoux connects with women of all ages. She will be the motivational and kickoff speaker at the Fairfield County Community Foundation’s fourth annual Girls Leadership Summit on Friday, Oct. 28, at Chelsea Piers Connecticut in Stamford. She also offers two-hour self-defense workshops at her studio in Westport, corporate training programs and integrated personal safety training for young women in middle school, high school and college.
Sally tailors her message differently, depending upon the age of the audience. In a one-hour session with middle school girls, Cadoux works on empowerment to develop confidence. “My mantra is ‘Inhale Confidence, Exhale Doubt,’’’ she said. Cadoux said she spends nearly half of hour-long classes teaching girls “Mental Fitness” and how to be prepared. Another class segment teaches them how to set boundaries and tap into their intuition. She spends about 20 minutes on personal power. “I’ll show them different strikes, how to get into a proper stance, find a solid base,’’ she said. “What’s on your body are weapons you can use to protect yourself.”
She’ll talk in two to three-hour sessions with college women and those in their early and mid-20s about prevention, such as: assessing risks, date rape and the role substances play. “It’s reiterating everything they’ve learned, hopefully, up to that point.” The second hour is devoted to empowerment and effective ways to handle different personal attacks.
Cadoux said when she was younger, she wanted to be a police officer. Her nickname as a girl was “Safety Sally” because of her natural instincts. “If we were riding our bikes, I’d never cross in the middle of a street,’’ she said. “I had to go use the crosswalk -- I always thought if you follow certain rules, you have a better chance to be safe.” She would ask her friends to let her know where they were going, with whom, and when they expect to be back home.
Her career unfolded in the corporate world where she worked in marketing and public relations before raising three children and marrying her husband, Peter. After starting her family, she worked as a fitness trainer, became a self-defense instructor, yoga teacher and mixed martial artist, and earned a black belt in kickboxing.
Athena Personal Safety Training is the culmination of her years of self-defense practice, training and education. “There are some safety companies out there,’’ Cadoux said. “But they do not focus on sustainable education like we do. My goal is to be talking with girls, face to face, and let them know that personal safety is a reality. If I can spread the word by teaching and reaching just one woman at a time, they may be able to help another person and so on.”
For more information, click here to visit the Athena Personal Safety Training website.