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Monday, November 18, 2019

Everyone Has a Right to Feel Safe Within Their Own Body

December Core Lead Instructor Katie
Photo: Daniel Teafoe
The last IMPACT Chicago Core Program of this decade is December 6,7, & 8 at the Glenview Park Center, 2400 Chestnut Avenue, Glenview.  The course is open to women 16 years old and up (cis and trans).  According to Lead Instructor Katie (pictured to the left), “Everyone has a right to feel safe within their own bodyI look forward to helping women and girls learn to use their physical and spiritual power to defend themselves successfully.”

Katie will be leading a team of instructors to teach and practice self-defense in realistic simulated scenarios with one instructor playing the role of an aggressor and Katie in the role of a personal coach.  The program allows participants to gain a maximum of self-defense skills in a short amount of time. Training progresses from distinguishing harmless and dangerous situations to verbal boundary setting to physical responses appropriate in an assault. Women learn and drill effective awareness, verbal, and physical techniques and then practice using their voices, managing their adrenaline, making moment-by-moment decisions, and, as a last resort, delivering strikes and kicks with full-force, just as they would need to do in a real-life assault.

IMPACT Chicago grads say why they recommend taking the IMPACT Chicago Core Program.

AC: "You will surprise yourself."

Kandice: "To build your confidence!"

Lisa: "For me, it is wonderful to be in an empowering space where we learn tools, not rules. I'm tired of hearing how women need to be careful, to constrain our choices (e.g. are you sure you should be going to that alone?), and to walk through the world in fear."

Rose: "Self-esteem and confidence."

Monday, November 11, 2019

I Got Out of My Own Way

In my last blog post "Shedding Fear to Find My Unique Strong Voice," I addressed my fears and how self-defense training supported me in my healing journey and increased my sense of personal safety and confidence. And that now, instead of walking around with that old familiar feeling of fearfulness, I now feel more vibrant, alive, and confident. 

This week, I am sharing a link to a podcast “The Untold Story, Get Out of Your Own Way and NARM” that I did with Chicago Center for Integration and Healing (CCIH). In the podcast, I address:
  • My journey into developing more safety and enjoyment in my  body and working with anxieties and fears
  • Exploring trust and mistrust
  • The profound experience of realizing I was holding someone else’s fear
  • My personal journey into exploring the truth of the untold ancestral story as half German and half from the South
  • How to connect with our own desires as an empathic person
  • Personal agency and how we can get in our own way
  • What the body-centered and relational model of NARM (Neuro-Affective Relational Model) offers
  • When you feel you’ve had a set-back it could actually be the natural contraction that happens after expansion
Bianka Hardin, PsyD
Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Monday, November 4, 2019

Shedding Fear To Find My Unique, Strong Voice

As a woman, I am very aware of the dangers that exist in society.  I have been taught about these dangers since I was young and continue to hear about the dangers to women on a daily basis on the news.  Every day there is a reminder that the world is not safe for women. Because I didn’t feel safe, I looked for ways that I wasn’t safe and for the dangers around me.  I used hypervigilance and caution to protect me for many years. 

In the past few years, I began to integrate lessons from my work as a trauma therapist and wondered how they may help me in my own life.  The hypervigilance that was so familiar and protective to me did protect me but I also began to understand sustained hypervigilance negatively impacts my health and well-being. I began to recognize that the fear I was carrying was related to trauma that happened before I was born, it was intergenerational trauma, passed down from generations before me. In the blog post below and another one next week "I Got Out of My Own Way,"  I will share how self-defense training and somatic therapy supported me in my healing journey and increased my sense of personal safety and confidence  Instead of walking around with that old familiar feeling of fearfulness, I now feel more vibrant, alive, and confident. 

It’s not safe to walk alone at night. Don’t trust strangers. ALWAYS be on your guard. You could be kidnapped.  As far back as I can remember, I was told that I am not safe and the world is a dangerous place. 

Where did this fear come from? Why was I scared all the time?

Many of us are wired to be fearful because of our intergenerational trauma and societal imprinting. My mother and grandmother, of course, had good intentions and told me the same messages all women get because they cared for me and wanted me to be safe. Fear was transmitted as a result of their lived experiences and their own intergenerational trauma. 

At the same time, we absorb daily lessons from movies, music, and television that women are weak and need to be protected. Every time we turn on the news, we are bombarded with numerous stories about women being assaulted and victimized.    

My own personal wiring combined with the cumulative impact of society's consistent messaging resulted in me personally feeling weak, disempowered and afraid.  On the surface, you wouldn’t know how I felt.  But fear was lurking below the surface, interfering with my confidence and my voice.  Often, I looked calm on the outside, but inside, I was waiting for something bad to happen. If I didn’t know better, I could easily self-pathologize and call myself 'silly’ or 'paranoid.' As a professional now, in my many years of work with women and trauma survivors, I know I am not alone. Many of us live in fear.  

Doing instead of fearing
I pride myself on being a doer, an achiever.  If there is a solution, I will find it.  Well, I found it. Two years ago, I learned about the IMPACT Chicago Core Program Self-Defense Training for Women and immediately wanted to be a part of this training.  I completed a two-weekend IMPACT Core Program where I learned verbal and physical boundary setting techniques. I was amazed at how empowering the experience was for me. I felt strong, powerful, brave!  
Now I walk around with an attitude of “don’t mess with me, or else!” I also now know how to fight, how to defend myself, how to stand up for myself from the outset. Even better, I no longer need to buy into societal messaging that women are weak, or that I need to be nice because I am a female.  I know I have everything I need to defend myself. 
The confidence and empowerment I experience after completing this program has been invaluable to me and has helped me personally and professionally. I wish every woman and every girl could experience this! 

Bianka Hardin, PsyD
Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Monday, October 28, 2019

There ARE ways to Handle Multiple Assailants!

Defense Against Multiple Assailants (DAMA) is offered every other year. And this is THE Year: Saturday and Sunday, November 16 and 17, 11 am - 5 pm, 1650 W. Foster Avenue in Chicago. You can get more information or register HERE or contact Amy Info@IMPACTChicago.org. It is suited instructor Nat's last IMPACT class, so we hope you can be there!

Graduates say DO IT
Amy: "In terms of my size and shape, I'm a fairly small person-but I've pretty much always *felt* large. While I loved my Core experience, DAMA is the program that truly made me question, fight for, and own that feeling. I've rarely felt so very, very small as when I found myself facing 2-3 assailants. And I've rarely stood so securely in how very, very large I am as when I came out of top in our encounters. DAMA took my certainly from me...and I earned it back. So, highly recommended."

Emma: "This class builds on what you learn in the Core Program so effectively! A really valuable chance to keep leaning into your own bravery and power. And honestly, it's fun."

Julie: "I highly recommend it! It was intense and scary but I got so much out of the class. Everyone was so supportive!"

K. : "There's a special kind of energy in the room due to the class requiring so many teachers present as assailants. You know that love and care you feel from being around people so committed to making a difference in yours and other people's lives during Core? There's a special kind of 'Wow, the crew's all here--this is really powerful--we ARE going to improve the world!' to being around so many teachers at once. That and you learn some really empowering 'Oh, wait, there IS a way to handle this' concepts, just like in Core. 'You can cry and fight at the same time' feeling--only applied to a new situation."

Lisa: "Fun, fun, fun, and valuable! I highly recommend this advanced program open to IMPACT grads."

Michelle: "DAMA was the best decision of my life. Going to therapy helped me get over the abuse, but there was still something very important missing, physical protection. Therapists cannot teach you how to physically protect yourself. IMPACT Chicago-Defense Against Multiple Assailants did just that, and more."

Rachel: "One of the scariest things I've done, but so worthwhile. Why yes, you can cry and fight at the same time and fight really well!"

Monday, October 21, 2019

The Power Within You

Many of us remember hearing about the brutal attack and rape of an 18-year-old West Town woman last summer. Although most attacks against women happen by someone they know, sometimes time and unforeseen occurrence happen to us all. In "Woman, 18, Visiting Chicago From Poland Had To Relearn How To Walk And Talk After Brutal West Town Rape, Prosecutors Say,Hannah Alani, a Block Club Chicago reporter shares a truly remarkable story of a brave young woman and the capture of her attacker. Chicago neighbors call her "Warrior Woman" in recognition of her fight for survival, and the GoFund me page has passed the $30,000 goal to help the woman and her family. 

Submitted by Maple Joy

#ImpactChicago #WomenEmpowerment #Courageous #Bold #StayStrong #NeverGiveUp

Monday, October 14, 2019

Who Should Violence Prevention Programs Target?

Criticisms of teaching women self-defense often center on the idea that instead of teaching women self-defense we should be teaching men not to rape. We asked IMPACT Chicago Facebook Friends on August 27 to let us know what they think: Men are the primary perpetrators of violence against women and girls--should men be the primary targets of funding and programming or should efforts focus on empowering women and girls? 

The overall message is that YES, men should have access to violence prevention programming but there was a concern that men would not take advantage of this programming. AND we also need to prioritize programming for self-defense and other empowerment training for targets of violence. These responses were part of the inspiration for the #YesAnd Campaign. See below for what people had to say and let us know what you think.

Tina, 2017 IMPACT grad 
"Men should be the primary targets. They are the problem."

Clay, IMPACT Chicago Suited Instructor (Retired)
"Most men won't go to these classes. I may be wrong but from being a man that would be my guess."

Rose 2010 IMPACT grad 
"Focus on women and girls. Females seem to take self-help classes more than men from what I see and experience. I truly wish more men would take classes on self-improvement relating to women."

Amy, 2017 IMPACT grad 
 "In general I'm leery of making the primary target of funding and programming the aggressor. I feel it takes agency from the people who most deserve it (in this case folks who identify as/are perceived as women and girls) and hands the decision about whether or not to continue to perpetrate violence against them to the very group who has quite a long history of bad decisions on this subject.

100% yes to educating men. But I prioritize empowering women more. Not because violence against them is ever their fault - but because they deserve to walk through the world unafraid without waiting a second longer for "permission" to do so.

I'm speaking without nuance here, because social social media. I'd relish the chance to sit down with any of y'all and dig at the details." 

Chemely, 2012 IMPACT grad 
"I think that men should also be the focus of programs to end gender-based violence. Since men are mostly the perpetrators of violence directed toward women, they must be educated on equality, assertiveness, empathy, and on toxic masculinity/overall patriarchal rules that make them think they have to act certain ways, etc. I believe women should continue to receive self-defense training to help with our own sense of power."

Gianine, FB Friend
I think the men need to be educated along with the women. It's the only way real change can happen. They have to shed their brainwashed ideas of their roles and women's roles.

Michelle, 2016 IMPACT grad 
"Wow, that's such an important question. Women and girls have been subjected to all that comes with patriarchal power structure for so long that ESD is life-altering, and I think we/they deserve to have that programming as an option, that said, the men's incubators that are popping up are encouraging. Is there a way to create meetups like Men4Choice seems to be doing, and gather intel on how to hook into more interested individuals who might be willing to donate time to a mentoring program? Just thinking out loud here. "

Monday, October 7, 2019

Rosa Parks: Sexual Assault Investigator

Rosa Parks is known for refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955. That refusal was a spark for the civil rights movement in the US. 
Standing up for what was fair and just was not new to Parks. She joined the NAACP in 1943 and worked on criminal justice issues as a sexual assault investigator. She investigated claims of rape against black men by white women--working to protect black men from false accusations of rape. She was also committed to making sure that black people who were sexually assaulted by white people could seek justice.  The Rape of Recy Taylor is a film that chronicles one of the cases that Rosa Parks brought to national attention. 
For more about Rosa Parks' important work and her own experience with stopping sexual assault, check out "Before the Bus, Rosa Parks Was a Sexual Assault Investigator."