Monday, April 2, 2012

Peace, Self-Confidence, and a Different Approach to Life

Agnieszka Skiba
Northeastern Illinois University Core Skills graduate, March 2012

Before taking this self-defense course[1], I had been thinking for years about it. I am a survivor of domestic violence and sexual abuse. I thought it would be helpful and empowering to know what to do in an extreme situation.
I have experienced emotional, physical and verbal abuse. I know how horrifying and painful it is when there is no one to help and you need to rely only on your own skills. If you do not know how to react, fear and panic take over; you do succumb to your attacker. That should not be the case! We, women, should not be victims! We are not condemned to any type of violence! We need to know how to protect ourselves.    
Thanks to this course I have gained a lot. I do have a choice! I can use my physical strength as well as my voice to stay safe. The class has helped me to realize how strong, powerful and able I am! I have been enlightened: I have all it takes, within my own beautiful body, to protect myself. I feel empowered and proud!  I feel great, walking down the street, even in the evening, knowing, that if the worst case scenario happens, I am prepared. Over the three weeks of the course my body learned how to react. I am more aware of my surroundings. I believe that I will not even have to think about what to do to fight back. The techniques have been programmed into my entire being. I hope I will never have to use any of them, however, being conscious of my strength and energy is so satisfying! 
            Martha and Ben, our instructors, and Julie, our assistant, were amazing! From the very beginning of the course I felt their warmth and openness. I felt very welcome the minute I walked in the room. They all made sure I could be myself. I was able to release whatever emotions emerged.   All the women in class were encouraged to bring out their feelings to help them gain new skills. For me it was especially helpful. The conversations and practice brought back memories. Unpleasant reproductions of past events made me feel paralyzed.  But in the circle of the friendly people, I allowed myself to feel them one more time. I never felt judged or criticized by any of the participants. The course was an amazing experience. It helped me to heal.
      I recommend this self-defense course to all women!   Your age, body type, and previous experiences with self-defense or lack thereof do not matter. You will be welcome as you are. You have what you need: your body! You will be provided with extra “tools,” as Martha calls them, to feel extra powerful! The course brought me peace, self confidence and a different approach to life.  

[1] IMPACT Core Skills is offered once/year as WSP150 Women’s Self-Defense, a 1 credit hour course (12 ¾ hours), at Northeastern Illinois University. In addition to student tuition, WSP 150 is supported by Women’s Studies and the Office of the Dean, College of Arts and Sciences with physical space and mats provided by the Physical Education Complex.

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