Monday, January 21, 2019

Support Group for African American Women Assault Survivors

LaShanda Nalls, Director of Trauma Therapy, Resilience
[photo:Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune]

In "'That's a huge trigger.' In wake of R. Kelly documentary, a support group for black assault survivors" Chicago Tribune, Alison Bowen interviews LaShanda Nalls, a therapist and director of trauma therapy at Resilience (formerly Rape Victims Advocates), about a support group for  African-American. female-identified women who have been affected by sexual trauma. The support group begins Thursday January 24. Nalls is committed to making the group a place for healing and for making it clear that black women and girls matter. 

There is currently a waitlist.  For more information,  (312)443-9603 or email.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Add Your Voice: Proposed Title IX Changes and Sexual Harassment

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has proposed a major overhaul to the way colleges and universities handle sexual misconduct complaints. 

How will these proposed changes affect people who are sexually harassed on college campuses?

  • What constitutes sexual harassment will be limited, requiring someone to experience severe, repeated, or escalating harassment before they can file a Title IX complaint.
  • Schools will not be required to investigate sexual harassment that occurs off-campus at parties, bars, and online.
  • Students will have to report to a high ranking university official instead of a teacher or mentor they know.
There is a Notice and Comment Period until January 28, 2019. Please make your voice heard.

Some Resources for  Learning More and for Making a Comment
Devos' New Sexual Assault Guidelines are Open for Public Comment
End Rape on Campus Toolkit
#HandsOff IX Submit a Comment 
#KnowYourIX Notice and Comment
National Women's Law Center Comment Guide re Title IX

Monday, January 7, 2019

Tracy Koppel: Even Though Adrenaline is Rushing Through You, You Are Still Thinking

Tracy Koppel, author of both young adult novels and adult novels, and mother of two teens, took the IMPACT Core Program in 1991 at the University of Chicago. She returned 23 years later to take Defense Against an Armed Rapist and plans to take Defense Against Multiple Assailants within the next couple of years. Her daughter completed IMPACT for Girls five years ago, the Core Program two years ago, and Defense Against an Armed Rapist in November 2018. Instructor Martha Thompson who was part of the Instructor Team for Tracy’s Core Program 27 years ago, met up with Tracy to chat about IMPACT.

What led you to taking that first IMPACT class?
I was a suburban girl living in the city and had concerns about my safety.  I wanted to be able to fight back. I heard about personal security classes but also I heard that most of them weren’t effective. When I heard that IMPACT was going to be offered at the University of Chicago, I read about it and was impressed.

What do you recall taking from that experience?
After IMPACT, I felt much better prepared. I was more comfortable going to unfamiliar places and walking alone at night. My husband came to the graduation and was thrilled when he saw me take down a mugger faster than anyone else in the class.

I have never consciously used IMPACT, but one time I was walking home alone at night and got a feeling that I was being watched. I turned and saw a guy walking behind me. I walked faster, and turned to look again and saw that he was closer to me. A university bus was up ahead and I boarded it even though I didn’t know exactly where it was going. The guy watched the bus take me away. I didn’t panic, I thought clearly, and I made a decision about what to do to keep myself safe. What I learned from that experience was even though my adrenaline was rushing through me, I was still thinking.

You took an advanced course 4 years ago—what led you to taking that course and what did you get from it?
It had been 23 years since I had done the Core Program and I thought it was time to refresh my skills. Taking that class boosted my confidence in my own preparedness. Even after 20+ years, I knew what to do.  It also changed how I watch television. I now get very annoyed when characters don’t use the skills I have to deal with weapons like I’ve been taught.  I also get very annoyed when the good guys get up close to a bad guy, because I know how the bad guy could take control of the situation.  Still, I love being able to point out things that Hollywood gets wrong.

Your daughter has taken several IMPACT courses. What does it mean to you that she has had this experience?
My daughter has taken three classes. It is huge for me as a mom, knowing that when she is on her own—whether walking around by herself or on a date—she can take care of herself.

What is something you can say to others about IMPACT?
While taking the class, even though you know that the scenarios are, in a sense, a “game,” they feel very real. The adrenaline gets going like it is real. That means that by the end of a Core class, you have defended yourself from attack many times. We know this kind of training works. I could still take down a mugger after 23 years without doing anything to reinforce the training I took during CORE.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Let's Close the Confidence Gap

Without intervention, girls' confidence drops between the ages of 8 and 14.

In the New York Times article  "The Confidence Gap for Girls: 5 Tips for Parents of Tween and Teen Girls, " Claire Shipman, Katty Kay, and JillEllyn Riley offer advice for parents.
  • Encourage your daughters to take risks and move beyond what they know they already do well.
  • Take the fear out of failure.
  • Encourage your daughter to train her brain to think about possibilities (not diaster).
  • Be a role model for risk and failure.
  • Embrace the bumps.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Turtle Mountain Starts on the IMPACT Path

"IMPACT International officially approves your entry into the process of becoming a certified chapter." ~Karen Chasen, Chair, Chapter Development Committee, IMPACT International
"It's happening!! Turtle Mountain Empowerment Self-Defense is on the way to becoming Turtle Mountain IMPACT!! We are SO excited that this is finally coming together!" Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians is located in Belcourt, North Dakota. 
IMPACT is an international affiliation of independent chapters. Each IMPACT chapter has its own organizational structure and programmatic focus. Turtle Mountain Empowerment Self-Defensef will focus on Native American people and will never turn anyone away.
Turtle Mountain Empowerment Self-Defense offers special thanks to MPACT Boston who will be our mentors, to Kay Mendick from UND IMPACT who has always had our back in making this possible, and to our Tribal Chairman Jamie Azure for believing and supporting our mission.
Welcome to the IMPACT path!

Monday, December 17, 2018

Baby, a No’s a No Tonight

Baby, a No’s a No Tonight
(New lyrics to that classic, holiday boundary-crossing song "Baby, It's Cold Outside!")
Cathy Chapaty
I really can’t stay
(Baby, it’s cold outside.)
D’you hear me say…?
(Baby, it’s cold outside.)
This evening’s been swell; just wanna thank you.
(I’ll hold your hands; they’re icy—these two.)
Listen, I’m starting to worry.
(Beautiful, what’s your hurry?)
I think that I’ll just head for the door.
(Listen to the fireplace roar.)
I really must go. A no’s a no tonight.
[Cue ’40s musical interlude while Person 2 rethinks behavior—but, alas, still doesn’t get it.]
Don’t want another drink.
(Baby, it’s cold outside.)
This isn’t what you think.
(But baby, it’s cold outside.)
The answer’s still no; won’t say it again.
(I thought you wanted me to make you give in.)
I really like you—that’s certain.
(Shouldn’t I draw the curtains?)
But I’m not in the mood tonight.
(Come on, baby. Why put up a fight?)
You need to hear me: A no’s a no tonight.
[More musical interlude while Person 2 rethinks behavior. Couple gets up and walks to the door, switches signing roles.]
I’m sorry. I was wrong.
(So glad you listened to me.)
I just like this song.
(Some other time, if you please.)
I really can’t tell. I’m bad with social cues.
(I’ve learned to set clear boundaries, thank you.)
When you say no, no, no sir…
(That doesn’t mean to come closer.)
But what if I never tried?
(It’s not about hurting your pride.)
I get it now…
(Together) A no’s a no tonight!

Revised lyrics by Cathy Chapaty
Martial Artist and Author
Chair, National Women's Martial Arts Federation (NWMAF)

For an analysis of the original version, see Sheila Watson's December 10 post: "What's wrong with Baby, It's Cold Outside?"

Monday, December 10, 2018

What's wrong with "Baby, It’s Cold Outside?"

More on the "Baby, It's Cold Outside" discussion. It's an important conversation. Comment on one of the half dozen threads I have read: "If she doesn't like how pushy he's being, why doesn't she just leave?" Yeah. Let that sink in. Literally what the song is about. Her trying to leave. The first line of the song is, "I really can't stay." (For those who are unclear about consent, that is a strong boundary set there).
First, thank you for acknowledging he is being "pushy". Yes. He is. And nearly everyone on the threads minimized his pushiness as being some level of flirtation or innocent or at least excusable behaviour. But let's be clear what is going on: he is actively rejecting her boundaries and refusing to consider them, let alone comply with them. He is refusing to comply with her expressed wishes for agency over her own actions. That is the very definition of non-consensual behaviour.
Most people have answered that the reason she didn't leave is because she didn't actually want to leave. She wanted to stay. But let's take a look at that. She very clearly articulates her wish to leave. Repeatedly. She very clearly says, "no". But her articulated wish is NOT to be accepted. Indeed it is incumbent upon her partner to determine her _true_ wish and to act upon that _true_ wish rather than her very clear expressed wish.
Almost no one in the threads had advice on how he could improve his behaviour. Almost everyone had advice on how she should adapt to the violation of her boundaries.
Think on that in terms of consent. The message is that consent is not found in her expression, but only in what the perpetrator (and the audience) _thinks_ she _truly_ wants. The rule for sexual encounters becomes, "What does she _really_ want?" (Which he gets to decide). VS "What is is she telling me she wants?" (Which she gets to decide). It establishes consent as an internal dialogue of the perpetrator rather than a paying attention to and complying with the wishes of his partner!
And THAT is rape culture operating in the present day. Still. Dismiss the communication and replace it with whatever you want to believe. That is NOT consent.
And yes, I hear that "things were different back then" and that we are looking at past events through the lens of modern thinking. The problem is that modern thinking hasn't changed that much. If it HAD, we would all be agreeing that when making the choice between complying with explicitly expressed non-consent and doing what we think they _really_ want, the former wins. Period.
This is not a conversation about the past. This a conversation about how we can understand the present. It's a conversation about what to teach our boys about consent. And what to teach our girls about whether their agency will be respected.
Someone needs to take this song to their child and say, "Don't do this. Doesn't matter what you think they want. Matters what they communicate to you." And from the conversation I witnessed on social media, not enough people are doing this. We, as a society, are not doing this. Instead we are dismissing and minimizing this. It's wrong. And we need to change.
Sheila Watson

If you like the tune to "Baby, It's Cold Outside" but not the lyrics, check out Cathy Chapaty's alternative lyrics: "Baby, A No's a No Tonight" on the December 17 IMPACT Chicago blog.