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As rape numbers rise in Minnesota, a Twin Cities business makes sure its employees are trained

Updated: October 13, 2019 10:26 PM

Violent crimes in Minnesota are down but the number of rapes being reported continues to grow, according to new data released in the FBI's annual "Crime in the United States" report.

It shows more than 2,460 people reported being raped last year, hundreds more than just five years ago. The report doesn't specify whether there are more crimes happening or if more people are reporting them.

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A Twin Cities employer is making sure its employees know what to do if they are in that situation.

Minnesota Rusco brought in Not Me! training on Thursday.

"I think it's good and something that should be happening in more companies," said Jacob Deens, director of corporate development. "We really thought it was important to open this up to families, too."

About 25 employees learned how frequently sexual assault happens and 10 techniques to fight off an attacker.

"I throw my arms straight up, at the same time I throw my legs straight up," said Suzanne Kutina, describing how to get away if someone has their arms around you.

She explained, by throwing your arms and your legs up, you'll be able to slide out from under the attacker's arms.

"You can be in any condition, any age and you can learn these moves to disable an attacker and get away," she said.

Kutina broke the class up into pairs to practice fighting off a stranger who attacks them. For her, the training is personal.

"I started with Not Me! after two of my friends were sexually assaulted in the same week, in broad daylight in nice neighborhoods in Minneapolis, and I couldn't believe it," she told the group. "I want to be involved in stopping that from happening."

The rate of rape in Minnesota has been growing. According to the FBI, the rate per 100,000 people was 34.0 in 2009. In 2018, it was 43.9.

"The truth is the vast majority of assaults are committed by people we know," said Kutina.

She told the class to trust their gut and not be afraid to speak up, even scream or yell.

"God forbid any of us ever gets in one of these situations, I think it's important to know," said Maddie Willison, who signed up for the class. "I think my natural tendency is to freeze."

Kutina said freezing is normal, but her goal is to help people react more quickly.

"I like to go out downtown and it's just important, better safe than sorry," said Willison.

Violent crime is up 18 percent in downtown Minneapolis, with city leaders and business owners calling for more police.

Kutina said this training can help in those situations, too.

"It also includes how to defend yourself from muggings, or muggings that could lead to an assault," she said.

For Minnesota Rusco, it's a way to help employees feel safer in the field as well. Service technicians and sales representatives frequently make house visits.

"They're in people's homes, you never know what's going to happen in those situations plus traveling here to there," said Deens.

For more information about the training, click here.

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Callan Gray

Copyright 2019 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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