My roommate nagged me for over a year before I signed up for IMPACT. She said ‘self defense course’ and my mind went straight to a class I’d witnessed in college, with two camera-ready workout models barking orders as 60-100 young women executed the same jabs and karate chops in unison, over and over. It seemed impersonal, artificial, and worthless. I considered myself a pretty smart chick who just didn’t get into bad situations, and had a hard time thinking that I needed something like IMPACT.
Eventually I was persuaded to take the class, and from the first minute I knew that this class was different. Twelve women of extremely diverse backgrounds, ages, sizes and shapes talked about what brought us to the class. Women shared their reasons – to gain self-confidence in every day life, to feel safer coming home late at night or by oneself, to stop being harassed, to stand up to a bully at work, to stop the nightmares of an attack – and as they did I realized that this was going to be an extremely intense and personal experience.
My turn came and I became so upset and angry that this group of modern women, none of whom seemed meek, inhibited, or timid, felt it necessary to sign up for this class. I was angry that the class had to exist, that we were all here, spending our time to fight what society teaches us again and again; that women cannot and should not defend themselves, and that when a woman gets attacked, she shares some of the blame. I hated that a part of the reason we enrolled in IMPACT was because we believed that myth and we didn’t know what to do about it.
Now, I can say that I know how to defend myself, but to limit the results of an IMPACT workshop to physical bouts would be a horrible understatement. IMPACT does teach self defense. IMPACT also teaches verbal and physical boundary setting, and above all it teaches women to re-claim their voices in everyday situations. IMPACT reminds us how much trust and support we can give to each other and ourselves, and it empowers a woman to do what is right for herself.
Taking IMPACT was one of the most rewarding and empowering things I’ve done. It was also one of the few times that I can say with confidence that I did something for myself alone and no one else. Every woman should have the opportunity to feel her own power, and I cannot think of a better way to do it than with an IMPACT workshop.
2007 IMPACT grad
To find out more about how IMPACT Chicago is offering programming for women with few economic resources, check out http://www.impactchicago.org/grant.html.