Renée Champagne other local women are turning to a new women’s self-defense program to learn how to protect themselves. STACT — Specialized Tactical and Combat Training — offers group and private training.

Renée Champagne could not fight back. She froze when a member of her military unit drugged and raped her in 1997. Champagne has a long history with sexual assault, dating back to an incident when she was 8. The Virginia native grew up to join the U.S. Air Force, a place where she felt safe until the attack.

“It stripped a part away from me that I never thought I’d get back,” Champagne said.

Since the sexual attack in 1997, Champagne has suffered from chronic severe post-traumatic stress disorder, with grief and trauma triggers barring her from leading a healthy, happy life. Turning away from prescription medication, she began to embrace a more holistic approach – practicing yoga – and a friend invited her to come to a defense class.

If she had the self-defense skills then that she has now, Champagne said she believes she would not have frozen.

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