IMPACT chapters in the U.S. and around the world are asking you to join our effort to find out if and how graduates have thought about or used IMPACT. For some of you, that might be last week and others 30 years ago!
Can you help by completing a short survey? It should take about 10 minutes (but take more time if you want!). Your voice and experience matter. IMPACT International is looking forward to hearing from you.
IMPACT Chicago was one of 276 organizations that signed a letter challenging social institutions large and small to enact policies to promote safety and ensure that those within those institutions are free from harm. The letter was published it in the New York Times October 27, 2018.
You can find the letter and the list of all those organizations that signed it here.
I sat in the back of a row of chairs, unsure of what I was about to see. Despite the cushy mats and audience of all ages, I held my breath as a man in a large helmet and overalls held a plastic gun to a woman’s head and demanded she go with him. Anxiety choked my throat and made my heart race. Then she defended herself by knees and kicks, with power and ferocity. When she rose with the gun behind her back and the attacker sprawled at her feet, I knew Ineededto learn that.
That graduation was my first experience with Impact, and it came at an important time in my life. As a survivor of the Columbine High School shooting, I lived with palpable anxiety and fear through my late teens and early twenties. It felt like my body was constantly in an adrenaline rush, and I didn’t know how to manage triggering experiences. Watching that instructor defend herself successfully against an attacker with a gun changed my life. It made me feel hope. Hope that I wasn’t helpless and vulnerable. Hope that I could effect what happened to me. Hope that I had power and choice once again in my life.
Eleven years later, not only have I learned how to defend myself against an armed attacker, but I now teach with Impact Personal Safety of Colorado. As we developed the curriculum for our chapter’s Defense Against the Armed Assailant (Weapons) course, I returned again and again to the idea of teaching active shooter training. In my heart, I knew that the class would not be complete without something about active shooters. But how could we teach it in an Impact way?
It might be understandable that my desire to teach active shooter scenarios is deeply personal and emotionally charged. Impact has taught me that when I feel something needs change, then I shouldn’t be afraid to advocate for that change. I firmly believed that active shooter training had to be a part of our Weapons course. This is the type of training that is taught in many workplaces, on gun ranges, and in martial arts classes. But Impact is very much an appropriate venue to also take on the topic.
Here is why:
·Impact is trauma informed – We built a safe environment that focused on the individual students and their needs. As an instructor with trauma, I knew I had to consider what would be “too much” and what would create response.
·Layering Information – We threaded the active shooter information through the entire four weeks of class. On the day of the active shooter training, we started with discussion and then did simple exercises with the students like getting on the ground or running out the door.
·Apolitical – As I researched types of active shooter trainings, I quickly found that 2nd Amendment rights and other political issues were wrapped up in the teaching. Impact recognizes the fact that everyone thinks differently about these issues and we do not judge nor advocate.
·Not victim blaming – Impact recognizes that it is never the victim’s fault, and no matter how they respond, it is the right way.
·Grounded in research – My team researched active shooter and weapons scenarios in order to be more real to life. We watched videos and read statistics in order to be fully prepared for every question and scenario.
·Know every situation is different – We know that we cannot prepare students 100% for real life. No two fights are the same. We gave our students lots of tools and knowledge in order to be able to best stay safe.
I believe we all need to have active shooter training even though these types of events are very rare. Think about it like plane crashes, they are also extremely rare. Still, every time we get on a plane, we go through the safety spiel with the flight attendants. Impact is the flight attendant for life. We need these skills to keep ourselves safe. Just in case.
Within 24 hours of each other, Brett Kavanaugh was appointed to the Supreme Court and Jason Van Dyke was found guilty of murdering Laquan McDonald. Both situations underscore the deep divisions the United States continues to face across gender and its intersections with disability, immigration, political power, race, sexual orientation, social class, and so much more. What can we draw upon from IMPACT? In IMPACT, participants often discover themselves, the abilities and power they already have, and
the incredible experience of being part of a supportive community. The
confidence we gain in using our bodies, feelings, and minds in scenario after
scenario most often expresses itself in our everyday worlds through our voices. We have many examples on our
blog that highlight the importance of our voices and speaking up, for instance:
Your Own Voice,” Victoria, 2013 graduate, shares how she gained the
confidence through IMPACT to contribute her ideas and opinions in her
Voice Has Power,” Sandria, 2018 graduate, describes stopping a man masturbating
in public and ways that she alerted the larger community.
We can also use our voices to challenge
disrespect for the bodies of children, immigrants, genderqueer people, people of color, people with disabilities, and women
blaming victims for the violence
uses of personal and political power to disregard and
override the NO from others.
Even when we know speaking up is the right thing to do, we may be afraid. Audre Lorde reminds us: ...and when we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard nor welcomed but when we are silent we are still afraid so it is better to speak remembering we were never meant to survive Audre LordeFrom A Litany for Survival
Inspired by participation in the August 2017 ESD Global Incubator, IMPACT Chicago Instructor and Social Media Coordinator Martha Thompson made a commitment to publishing a blog about empowerment self-defense at least once/month and to seeking the contributions of empowerment self-defense instructors from varied organizations. Below is a list of those blogs and links to them.