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Monday, July 22, 2013

IMPACT is Also for Veterans!

Slowly but steadily, Felicia is getting her life back. She’d always struggled with low self-confidence. When she signed up for the US Navy, she thought she would finally feel safe. And then a horrible thing happened, something that she still can’t name. “When I was 19 years old, two of my battle buddies took something from me,” she says.

With Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey’s mid-May resolve to address this scourge, the United States Military is finally recognizing the extent of the sexual crimes being committed within its institution. The US House of Representatives has gone further by approving an additional 2-year mandatory prison sentence for sexual offenders in the military. These changes will be top-down mandates to punish offenders, protect whistle-blowers, and assist victims. There is yet another solution—one where women learn to defend themselves. The military doesn’t make “combatives” a priority [the army’s way of teaching hand-to-hand combat].

In contrast, IMPACT Chicago creates a safe environment to practice realistic, full-force self-defense techniques in simulated scenarios with a padded attacker and a personal coach. Women and girls report that IMPACT programs enhance personal freedom and safety and increase confidence in making peaceful choices for dealing with violence. Imagine if all women learned these skills as a matter of course in middle- and high school?

IMPACT is based on an understanding of violence, particularly gender-based violence, as a widespread social problem perpetuated by imbalances of power and disrespect for others. Since 1987, IMPACT Chicago has taught thousands of women how to use the voices and bodies they have to set boundaries and create a safer world for themselves, other women, and all people.

Underlying the IMPACT Chicago approach is an understanding of gender-based violence in institutionalized settings such as the military and why violence against women is prevalent yet under-reported; the importance of grass-roots approaches to changing the incidence of violence against women; and how women have used self-defense training to heal from past experiences.

The next IMPACT program for adults is September 20, 21, and 22 at Tribe, 1819 W. Belmont, Chicago, IL 60657. Visit impactchicago.org, info@impactchicago.org, or 773-561-9000.

AC Racette, IMPACT grad and IMPACT Administrative Team

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