OJAI : Free Forum Tonight on Self-Defense

A forum on self-defense and coping with assault will be held in Ojai tonight in response to a series of four attacks on area women since March.

"We want to be able to tell the community there are a lot of options out there," said Elizabeth Wikle, one of the organizers. Both men and women are welcome at the free program.

Self-defense experts from Ventura and Santa Barbara are scheduled to speak along with several counselors trained to work with trauma victims. They will discuss ways to fend off attackers, from using pepper spray to martial arts-style skills.

A representative from the Coalition of Household Violence will talk about the group's support program for rape victims.

Sheriff's detectives say they have not identified the man responsible for the attacks despite an intensive investigation that has included the scrutiny of 160 potential suspects. At a meeting last week, a sheriff's official said the suspect--described in hundreds of flyers posted around Ojai--may live in the community or visit it frequently.

Tonight's meeting is being organized by a group formed by Wikle and several others called Ojai's PEACE of Mind. PEACE stands for Prevention & Awareness with Community Effort.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the Chaparral Auditorium at 414 E. Ojai Ave. For more information, call 646-8910 or 646-8025.

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