Monday, August 21, 2017

Sexual Harassment and Health

Amy Blackstone, sociologist at University of Maine, reports that 70% of women and 45% of men have experienced sexual harassment at work. In “6 Ways Sexual Harassment Damages Women’s Health,” Rachael Rettner in LiveScience identifies ways that sexual harassment can negatively affect health.

  • Depression
  • Post-Traumatic Stress
  • Elevated Blood Pressure
  • Sleep Problems
  • Suicide
  • Neck Pain
If you are sexually harassed, Donna Ballman advises:
  • Don’t quit
  • Look for the policy
  • Put it in writing
  • It doesn’t have to be sexual
  • You probably can’t sue for a single incident
  • They don’t have to fire the harasser
  • The employer must investigate
  • Keep reporting it
  • You are not alone
  • When it’s time to quit

And to expand the tools you have to address sexual harassment directly, sign up for an IMPACT course. 

To read more:

Monday, August 14, 2017

IMPACT Chicago Beginnings

IMPACT Chicago dates its beginnings from when the first course was offered in August 1987.

Founding the Self-Empowerment Group, August 1986-November 1988
Key people and groups:
Joe Connelly—Founder of Self-Empowerment Group
  • Joe heard about Model Mugging from friends in California and read an article in Black Belt Magazine.
  • Negotiated with Matt Thomas of Model Mugging and the Personal Empowerment Center and met the requirement of having a business plan, identifying two candidates for instructor training (Joe and Lonna Brooks), and having an outreach person (Connie Conroy)
  • Provided funds for the first instructor candidates and for the fledging organization
Business Advisory Group
Norm Axelrod, Dennis Detzel, Elliot Rubenstein, and Dennis Conroy

Board of Directors
President: Lonna Brooks, Vice-President Joe Connelly, Members Dennis Conroy and Laurie Haight

Others: After August 1987: Dianne Costanzo (first certified lead instructor), Theo Pintzuk, and Carole Isaacs; After July 1988: Martha Thompson

Main Activities in Founding
Negotiated with Matt Thomas and Personal Empowerment Center
Sent people for training
Offered first class August 1987 at Hillcrest Community Center, 13 women 
            Offered 4 other courses
            Total of 50 women trained during the founding period

Key Decisions
Established a nonprofit rather than for profit
Didn’t sign a royalty agreement with Matt Thomas

Main issue
How to create an effective, efficient organization with a commitment to offering programs to as many women as possible?

Building the Self-Empowerment Group, November 1988-November 1990
Key People and Groups
Martha Thompson—coordinated the creation of an infrastructure to support programming and coordinated the instructor team
Core Group of Volunteers: Martha (coordinator), Susan Andrews, Dianne Costanzo, Debborah Harp, Anne Mason, Theo Pintzuk, Becky Yane
Long Range Planning Committee: Martha (coordinator), Joe Connelly, Dianne Costanzo, Anne Mason, Theo Pintzuk, Becky Yane
Interim Board (all the people above) plus Linda Jedrzejek

Main Activities
     Building an instructor team—regular meetings, in-service training, ongoing instructor training
     Building a volunteer organization
     Offering a regular and expanded schedule
21 basics courses, over 200 women trained
Review course
Defense against an armed assailant (DAAR) instructor training in Boston (Joe and Martha)
Training rest of instructors in DAAR
Offering DAAR
Boundaries workshop
Key Decisions
Established the organization on principles of the program: empowerment and personal growth
Created a joint committee of volunteers and instructors to lead the organization
Moved to a membership-based Board of Directors
Main Issues
How to build an organization consistent with the principles of the program?
      Related: decision-making, division of labor, accountability, communication, language, and 

What kind of leadership model did we want to support?
      Related: recognizing invisible work and the people who do it; preventing burnout; what role will         instructors play; how to transform instructor-student relationship to a peer relationship?

How do we determine/evaluate our success?
Focus on process or product?
Focus on program/women served or organizational (office, # of paid people, career lines)?

Notes from a 1990 Interview of Joe Connelly by Martha Thompson and her organizational notes.

Monday, August 7, 2017

New Core Program Format and a New Location!

“A friend just texted me to let me know of an assault that happened last night. Part of me can’t believe it’s the exact same scenario that we practiced yesterday. Part of me wishes he had chosen me because I have learned the tools to respond. This story really hits home about why I needed to take this training. Words cannot express the gratitude I feel for IMPACT.”

We are continually trying to make our programs more accessible so that any woman who wants effective self-defense tools can gain access. We are expanding our locations and our course formats and continuing to offer a sliding scale and payment plans to make it possible for any woman to take the Core Program, regardless of her financial circumstances.

New format: Four Friday evenings right after work and you'll still have the weekend!
October 27, November 3, 10, & 17

New Location: North Center
September 9, 10, 16 & 17, 2017
North Park Elementary
2017 W. Montrose
Chicago, IL 60618

Sliding Scale and Payment Plans
We have a sliding scale and payment plan options to ensure that our programs are accessible regardless of your finances.

If you have any questions or concerns, please  contact
Tara, Registration Coordinator

Monday, July 31, 2017

Rearranging Your Mental Furniture

IMPACT Instructor Emeritus Dianne (Dee) Costanzo was the first person I heard link IMPACT training to re-training the brain or as she would say "rearranging our mental furniture."

Neuroplasticity refers to the idea that our life experience can change our brains. As an example, a recent grad said: "I never thought I could defend myself physically against a man. Now I know I can. It is an amazing change in world view."

Synaptic pruning refers to the idea that the brain cleans out synapses that aren't working much to create space for the brain to build new and stronger connections. I think when grads talk about IMPACT being life-changing that it is possible that their experiences in IMPACT removed some old synapses that had been holding them back in some way. As one grad said: "IMPACT was truly life changing! Feel empowered and inspired. New world of possibilities of what my body can do!"

For more:
Will Store. 2015. The brain's miracle superpowers of self-improvement BBC.
Your Brain Has a Delete Button: Here's How to Use It. FastCompany.

Martha Thompson
IMPACT Chicago Instructor

Monday, July 24, 2017

Managing Adrenaline

IMPACT training is empowerment self-defense training for sure, but it is also managing adrenaline training. We are experiencing adrenaline when we are under stress and our heart starts beating faster and our breathing becomes more rapid. Part of IMPACT training is facing this stress in such a way that our adrenaline is working for us, not against us.

Here are some things we do in IMPACT that are examples of ways we learn to manage our adrenaline
  • Assess a situation
  • Breathe
  • Focus on what I can do next
  • Prioritize—what’s available on my body and what’s available on an aggressor’s body?
  • I’m worth fighting for
  • Focus on my strengths
  • Redefine emotions—fear is my ally, not an enemy
  • Be fully present in the moment
  • Keep on, keep on
  • Take care of myself—get to safety and get support
For more about managing adrenaline and staying calm under pressure, check out

Martha Thompson
IMPACT Chicago Instructor

Monday, July 17, 2017

Combat Anti-LGBT Acts with Self-Defense: Interview with Meg Stone

Meg Stone is the Director of IMPACT Boston, the President of IMPACT International, and a member of the Empowerment Self-Defense Alliance.  Gillian Kendall recently interviewed Meg for Curve Magazine "Combat Anti-LGBT Acts with Self-Defense." 

Meg talks about:

  • Her work and teaching self-defense
  • The effects of the 2016 Presidential election 
  • What keeps her energized
  • Words of hope and encouragement to offer long-lived lesbians.
Check it out here.

Monday, July 10, 2017

What to Say If Someone Claims Women Lie About Rape

The claim that women lie about rape can pop up anywhere—a court of law or a casual neighborhood gathering. Having something specific to say about false reporting can contribute to dispelling rape myths. National Sexual Violence Research Center False Reporting has a helpful overview.

Key Points
  • The majority of sexual assaults are never reported to the police.
  • False reporting is estimated to be between 2 and 10 percent of cases that are reported.
  • Rates of false reporting are often exaggerated because the definitions of what constitutes evidence is inconsistently defined or reflect a limited understanding of sexual assault.
  • Misconceptions about false reporting negatively affect victims, contributing to why the majority of sexual assaults are never reported.
  • To provide improved support for victims of sexual violence, law enforcement and service providers need an in depth understanding of sexual violence and to be consistent in their definitions, policies, and procedures.