Communities Host Safety Training Developed by Former Navy Seal

Heidi Nauman and Al Horner

Today’s headlines provide plenty of topics for the national discourse. Since October 2017, when the hashtag #MeToo, originally created by social activist Tarana Burke, gained steam on social media to shed light on the prevalence of sexual assault and harassment, the topic has garnered more attention.

“One in four women will experience sexual assault in their lifetime. We believe the numbers are higher, and [the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network] research shows that about 68 percent go unreported,” says Heidi Nauman, an assault prevention trainer. “One in four girls and one in 10 boys will experience an assault. It is a life-changing experience, which can lead to anxiety, depression, behavior challenges, illness, substance use and suicide, and they often end up repeating the behavior to others. [The] personal cost is immense, and the cost to society is in the billions [of dollars] in the U.S.”  

Al Horner, a former Navy Seal, created NOT ME! training, an assault prevention program educating children and adults about how to avoid and escape threatening situations. He developed the program after a friend asked him to share the personal safety lessons he learned as a Seal. Horner agreed and offered safety tips to his friend’s daughter and her friends, who were about to leave for college. The success of that initial session led to word-of-mouth endorsements and the eventual creation of NOT ME! It’s been more than 12 years since the Twin Cities-based program’s launch, and individuals, schools, churches and businesses have sought out the program.

Nauman is involved with outreach and training with NOT ME! “I became involved after attending training for college-bound girls and their moms at a Twin Cities private high school,” she says. “I felt that this course was vital and one of the most important things we needed to share with women.” Impressed with the training, Nauman contacted Minnetonka High School (MHS) principal Jeff Erickson in hopes of bringing the program to the high school. MHS has hosted classes for senior girls and boys with their parents for the last five years. Initially, the program was aimed at attendees around age 18 and older. Now, it also includes young children. Southdale Pediatrics and Wayzata Children’s Clinics hold Horner’s programs at least quarterly for children in grades K–8. “Pediatricians love our programs and say they have never had anything like this before for prevention,” Nauman says. Adult programs now include ages 15 and older.

“When my middle daughter took it at MHS a couple years ago, she was very happy for the opportunity, but shared with me that unfortunately she already knew a handful of girls who already had been raped,” says Lynn, a local mom of three who asked that we not use her last name. “She expressed that having this [training] sooner might have made for different outcomes to high school girls, as well as those going off to college.”

The Super Hero Kids Foundation was created to bring the training to children and families at a subsidized cost (or free) in schools and other nonprofits, according to Nauman, who serves as assistant director and trainer.

“As parents, we have so much to teach our children, and sometimes they need to hear things not just from us in order for important lessons to sink in,” Lynn says. “It takes a community to raise families. That is what has always motivated me to search out a program like this.”

If you have been sexually assaulted, dial 911 or call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1.800.656.HOPE. By calling this number, you will be automatically connected to your closest rape crisis center.