Monday, November 26, 2012

Peaceful Conflict Resolution Through Assertive Communication

Julie Curtis and IMPACT Instructors Bruce Brio (formerly Antjuan), Ben Ruiz, and Martha Thompson attended a workshop on Peaceful Conflict Resolution Through Assertive Communication at Thousand Waves Martial Arts and Self-Center.

Kate Webster, Director of Violence Prevention at Thousand Waves, taught the workshop and Carla Riggs assisted. As part of a professional exchange between IMPACT Chicago and Thousand Waves, both Kate and Carla have completed the IMPACT Chicago Core Program.

Through review of key principles of assertive communication and interactive exercises, participants had the opportunity to reflect upon and practice using boundary setting tools to resolve conflicts effectively.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Ready to Advance: Defense Against an Armed Rapist

Sheila Hickey, graduate of IMPACT Chicago Core Feb 2012

What was your experience in taking the Core this year?
I left this course knowing that I can protect myself and someone I love in the event someone tries to hurt us. I experienced a well structured class that combined demonstrations with experiential learning in the form of modeled muggings.  I felt well supported by the instructors and fellow IMPACT participants who stood next to me offering encouragement. 

What inspired you to take the DAAR?
I wanted to continue to challenge any emotional and physical obstructions I have to protecting myself from a would-be attacker. 

What are your thoughts, feelings about taking the DAAR?
Up until 2 weeks ago I was ambivalent about taking the course, but then I was threatened in front of my home by two men with a baseball bat.  Thankfully, I had a 95 lb protective dog with me who reared up and bared his ferocious self to these two would be attackers.  They ran off being afraid of my dog.  The incident caused me to think, what would I have done if my dog was not with me? 

I feel determined to learn additional skills in self-defense that will enable me to believe in my capacity to defend myself.

What are your feelings about IMPACT programming and self defense in general? 
I love IMPACT.  I know that the teaching methods used to promote muscle memory are effective teaching methods. 

Why is, isnt it important to you? Others?
It is important to me to believe in my abilities to protect myself.  I believe in my right to defend myself with practical defense techniques that are designed to enhance my physical attributes as a woman.

What do you enjoy most about it?  Least?
I enjoyed having the physical and vocal support of other women during my turn to defend against an attacker.  The simulated attacks felt very real.  I did not anticipate having such strong feelings of fear come up for me.  I was proud of myself that I did not allow the fear to interfere with protecting myself from the attacks.

Sheila is enrolled in IMPACT Chicagos upcoming advanced program
Defense Against an Armed Rapist taught the first weekend of December on the 1st and 2nd. Spanning two consecutive days, with six hours of training each day, this course will cover effective defenses to common attacks with a club, knife, or gun, from the front or the rear, both standing and on the ground.  You must be a graduate of the IMPACT Core program.

Monday, November 12, 2012

IMPACT Chicago: A Collaborative Network

Since its inception, IMPACT Chicago has operated as a network of people working independently and collaboratively to bring self-defense to women and girls in the Chicago area. In May 2012, we hired Julie Curtis as Executive Director. It has not been an easy decision for her to make, but Julie resigned November 6. She handled her resignation as she did her work as Executive Director -- with commitment, professionalism and integrity. Though her role will change, Julie plans to stay involved with IMPACT Chicago.
Julie offered her insight that the job description of Executive Director does not reflect how IMPACT Chicago actually works. The Board of Directors is examining ways to create an administrative approach where there is a stronger fit between our formal organization and the work being done. At its December meeting, the Board of Directors will discuss a proposal for addressing the issues Julie raised. In the meantime, almost all of our ongoing work is being temporarily covered. If you have questions or concerns, please email Lisa Amoroso, Board Secretary, who has volunteered to be the point-person for directing people to the best person to answer specific questions. You can reach Lisa at

Monday, November 5, 2012

Thinking It Through Made Him Think Twice

Monday night, hungry after class, I stopped by the drug store in my neighborhood. As I pulled up on my bike, I noticed a man hanging around the entrance. I thought he was going to ask me a question, but he seemed to change his mind. I assumed he was waiting for someone. Yet something about his body language drew my curiosity. The nosier I became, the more he turned away from me. He seemed aimless, yet expectant. And I wondered, is this guy waiting for me to turn my back to spring?

I checked my bike and I fiddled around with my helmet, taking my time to suss him out. If he planned on mugging me, I wanted to face him. I wanted to see him coming. I wanted it to happen on my own time, and not by surprise. I wanted to look him in the eye.

After half-a-minute, the moment had passed. I decided he wasn’t going to do anything. He had receded deeply into the shadows. My bike was firmly locked up (twice!). I went into the store with no thought now but my empty stomach.

As I approached the counter to pay for my box of Kraft Dinner (yes, I was desperate), a visibly shaken man rushed into the store and asked to use the phone. Someone had just attempted to mug him a few yards from the entrance. The assailant’s description fit what I had seen, and the mugging was attempted at knife-point and with pepper spray.

So why didn’t the mugger attack me? Who knows?! But I know what I did: I stood my ground. I looked. I assessed. By taking my time, by owning my space, I let him know I controlled this situation. Above all, I listened to my instinct and I didn’t dismiss it as paranoia. All these things, I learned in my IMPACT class in 1995. My self-defense skills still work, 17 years later. Next time, I will call attention to a creepy person before they have a chance to act, now that I trust my gut feeling. Nine-One-One!

When I graduated from the Core Program, my instructor, Margaret, said “Congratulations! Now that you know how to fight, you might not have to do it.” In this case, she was right: the other self-defense skills I’d learned stood me in good stead, preventing the need for full-impact self-defense. The confidence that I could take him down increased my understanding and awareness of what might be going on. And the evening’s bonus: my bike and I rode home in style, in the squad car.

AC Racette