Monday, March 31, 2014

Check out unpublished research on IMPACT/Model Mugging, 1993-2011

IMPACT Chicago Instructor Martha Thompson summarizes unpublished research on IMPACT and Model Mugging, 1993-2011. 

IMPACT participants
·         Most have never taken self-defense or martial arts (Cox 1993; Holzman 2011).
·         More than half have experienced some form of verbal, physical, or sexual abuse (Cox 1993; Holzman 2011).

·         Self-defense training provides survivors with an opportunity to reconnect with their bodies and increases healing, confidence, self-esteem, and self- care (Anderson 1999).
·         Survivors, in contrast to those who have not experienced abuse, find the simulated scenarios in IMPACT as more realistic (Cox et al 1994; Holzman 2011).
      A safe and respectful classroom space  creates a positive experience for survivors (Rosenblum and Taska 2008).

·         Participants’ confidence increases after taking IMPACT (Cox 1993; Cox et al 1994; Holzman 2011).
·         Participants’ confidence, self-efficacy, and self-esteem last for a considerable period of time (Chipping 2002; Cox et al 1994).
·         Though no difference in skill level, recent graduates have a higher level of confidence than those who have not participated in a course for a while (Cox et al 1994).
·         Participants report improved assertiveness, personal safety and self-perceptions (IMPACT Safety 2004).
·         Participants report increased physical safety and a reduction in fear-motivated avoidance behavior and these assessments remain after the course (Shim 1998).
·         Women learned to use the strengths they already had (Holzman 2011).

Self-defense skills
·         Women who practice with a padded mock assailant develop stronger self-defense skills than those who practice only against inanimate targets (Cox 1997).
·         Women’s ratings of self-confidence in their skills are supported by independent observers’ assessment of their skill level (Cox et al 1994).
·         Participants’ skills last for a long period of time (Cox et al 1994).

Beyond Self-Defense
·         Most participants report positive effects on other areas of their lives (Cox 1993).
·         Participants develop more positive body images (Shim 1998).
·         Participation increases healing for those who have experienced sexual assault (Anderson 1999).
·         IMPACT youth violence prevention programs give youth alternatives for making safe choices and living with greater confidence in the world (IMPACT Safety 2004).
 Symptoms of anxiety and depression are significantly reduced after participation in self-defense training and these observed changes are maintained (Shim 1998).

·         Photos of physical technique stimulate the most interest but also the most anxiety (Amoroso and Thompson 2006).
·         Photos should tell a story from the defender’s point-of-view and accompanying text should say how the course will help address real-life problems (Amoroso and Thompson 2006).

Anderson, K. M. (1999). Healing the fighting spirit: Combining self-defense training and group therapy for women who have experienced incest. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. (University of Minnesota)
Conlon, Lynne. 1993. Aggression in women victimized during childhood: The effects of self-defense training. Unpublished dissertation. San Francisco CA:The Professional School of Psychology.
Cox, D. S. An analysis of two forms of self-defense training and their Impact on women’s sense of personal safety self-efficacy. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. (Old Dominion University)
Fisher, L. W. (1994). Facing the demon: Women, Model Mugging, and self-esteem. Unpublished master’s thesis. (Smith College School of Social Work)
.Frost, H. L. (1991). “Model Mugging”: A way to reduce women’s victimization. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. (Univ. of Kansas)
Gaddis, J. W. (1990). Women’s empowerment through Model Mugging: Breaking the cycle of social violence. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. (UC Santa Barbara)
Lidsker, J. (1991). Women and self-defense training: A study of psychological changes experienced by participants in relation to assault history. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. (Pacific Graduate School of Psychology).
Peretz, M. E. 1991. The effects of psychotherapy and self-defense training on recovery of acquaintance and stranger rape. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. (California School of Professional Psychology).
Rowe, N. P. 1993. Self-defense training: An empowerment process for women. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. (California Institute of Integral Studies)
Schuiteman, J. A. 1990. Self-defense training and its contributions to the healing process for survivors of sexual assault. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. (Michigan State University).
SShim, D. J. 1998. Self-defense training, physical self-efficacy, body image, and avoidant behavior in women. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. (Boston University)
Vaselakos, W. D. 1999. The effects of women’s self-protection training on the belief of perceived control. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. (Adler School of Professional Psychology).

[1] This does not include dissertations completed prior to 1997 because they are not available through Dissertation Abstracts online.
[2] Thanks to Richard Chipping, Julie Harmon, Meg Stone, and Erica Neuman who provided references and research on IMPACT/Model Mugging.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Why People are Against Self-Defense Training and What You Can Tell Them

A big surprise to many people who have seen the positive effects of IMPACT self-defense training is that there is resistance in the anti-violence movement to women learning self-defense. The positive outcomes of self-defense are not limited to personal anecdotes. There is much evidence that through self-defense training (Gidcyz and Dardis 2014), women and girls:

  • Learn rape resistance strategies that decrease rape
  • Experience positive mental health outcomes
  • Increase their feelings of empowerment and self-efficacy
  • Increase their general confidence and assertive sexual communication
  • Do not blame themselves for prior sexual violence once they learn self-defense 
  • Reduce post-traumatic stress
  • More actively engage in social and recreational activities.
In spite of the overwhelming evidence for the effectiveness of self-defense training, misperceptions and misrepresentations remain (Gidcyz and Dardis, 2014), such as
  • Women are not strong enough to resist rape
  • Rape resistance is ineffective 
  • Self-defense programs blame women for assault 
  • Men should be solely responsible for stopping rape and teaching self-defense puts the responsibility on women.
All of us who have experienced IMPACT self-defense training know that women are strong enough to resist, that rape resistance is effective, and that women are not to blame for assault. The remaining question is, then, does teaching self-defense put responsibility on women when it should be on men? The answer is not either/or—men do have to stop raping women, but in the meantime, women need self-protection skills.

As Susan Schorn, self-defense instructor and author of Smile at Strangers, testified to the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault:
"In the next 24 hours, 720 people will be assaulted in the United States, some of them on college campuses. Research shows that empowerment-based self-defense skills can prevent many of those assaults, and reduce the trauma and harm resulting from virtually all of them. And those skills could do the same for another 720 people the next day. And the day after that—that’s over 2,000 assaults we could prevent or mitigate, just between now (Wednesday) and Friday, with some simple but powerful instruction. So as we work toward our long-term goals, please be aware of the immediate, on-the-ground benefits of empowerment-based self-defense. It is a crucial tool for preventing and reducing the ongoing, daily harm of campus sexual assault, while also advancing the cause of cultural change."

While we work to change cultural values, norms, and behavior that support gender-based violence, Let’s make sure people have the tools to resist sexual violence right now!

Martha Thompson, IMPACT Chicago Lead Instructor

Monday, March 17, 2014

Dear Vice President Biden

IMPACT Chicago instructors—Ben, Bruce, Katie, Margaret, Mark, Martha, Molly, Nat, and Rob—joined over 90 other violence prevention and self-defense educators in writing a letter to the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. The letter appears below.

Dear Vice President Biden, Ms. Jarrett, and members of the Task Force:

We write to you as prevention educators in the field of sexual assault reduction. We are encouraged and heartened by President Obama's recent decision to accelerate efforts to reduce sexual assault on our nations' campuses, and we have great hopes that your Task Force will make a real difference in our ongoing efforts to prevent sexual violence.

In light of the Task Force's mission to recommend "evidence-based best and promising practices for preventing and responding to rape and sexual assault," we wish to bring to your attention the prevention methods we teach—specifically, education and awareness about consent, boundary-setting, and self-defending. These methods, variously known as Personal Safety Education, Empowerment Self Defense, and Bystander Intervention Education, have a long history of success; they have been painstakingly developed over many years and rest on a solid evidentiary base. They teach the social, verbal, and physical skills necessary to reduce the risk of violence. When employed in a community as part of a spectrum of interventions, the methods we teach can effectively prevent violence before it occurs, give at-risk populations tools for immediate response, and help targeted populations prevent recurrence. We urge the committee to foreground these kinds of programs in its recommendations to the President.

As you no doubt know, there are now very clear directives for campuses to prevent and respond to sexual assault, thanks to the passage of the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act last year as part of the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization. One new element is a mandate to provide comprehensive prevention education to all incoming students. This policy shift, recognizing the value of concrete, effective violence prevention skills, is long overdue—in fact for many years, educating students about self-protection methods was explicitly forbidden under the Department of Justice's Campus Grant program. We believe young people deserve skills they can use in their communities to effectively identify, prevent, respond to, and heal from violence; an emphasis on such skills-based education by the Task Force would do much to make up for lost time in prevention efforts on campuses nationwide.

Fortunately, the methods we advocate are already proven to work. Various federal U.S. institutes, grant-makers and departments recommend that people at high risk for violence practice them. A 2005 report commissioned by the National Institute of Justice, The Impact of Victim Self-Protections on Rape, found that skills taught and practiced in Personal Safety Education reduce the risk of rape more than 80 percent compared with nonresistance and did not significantly increase the risk of serious injury to the defender.

Personal Safety Education is also a key recommendation of numerous national experts in violence prevention, public health, sexual violence, criminology, and trauma studies. Prevention experts like Alan Berkowitz, Judith Herman, and Gavin De Becker have all recommended such training.

In accordance with the Task Force's directive to measure the success of prevention and response programs, we further note that Personal Safety Education has a demonstrated track record of quantifiable assessment. Its impact can be, and has been, measured. It provides good accountability along with its other good results. We have appended a bibliography that summarizes some of the many studies showing its benefits.

Furthermore, Personal Safety Education not only teaches effective skills to immediately prevent, disrupt, or reduce the harm from assault; it also contributes to broader cultural change. According to University of Illinois criminologist Paul Schewe, Personal Safety Education skills are supported by a preponderance of the evidence "for changing knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, or behavioral intentions and for reducing . . . victimization.” The more young people we equip with these skills, the closer we are to achieving a society that no longer normalizes or tolerates sexual violence, that speaks up to prevent or report it, and that supports victims and potential victims rather than blaming them. Thus Personal Safety Education should also be considered in light of the Task Force's mandate to "maximiz[e] the Federal Government's effectiveness in combating campus rape and sexual assault."

We deeply appreciate all your efforts to reduce sexual violence on our nation's campuses, and we hope you will consider us a resource as you continue to build effective policies on that front. Please know that we are working alongside you every day, teaching young people, supporting them, and assessing the effectiveness of our work. We are grateful to feel that the White House is our partner in this vital endeavor.

Thanks to Susan Schorn, self-defense instructor and author of Smile at Strangers for preparing the letter.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Would You Be an IMPACT Chicago Class Assistant?

See below for expectations for IMPACT Chicago class assistants--a vital part of  IMPACT Chicago programs. If after reading these expectations, you are interested, please let Tara know at 773-561-9000 or We look forward to hearing from you!

IMPACT class assistants are an additional resource for the women in the class. They participate in creating an emotionally and physically safe environment in some of the ways listed below.

  • Makes sure the space is safe, such as clean and secure mats.
  • Follows the lead of the female instructor.
  • Projects a warm, supportive demeanor.
  • Exhibits competency and 100% commitment in scenarios, drills, and other physical work.
  • Listens in a nonjudgmental way.
  • Observes women on the line and in drill groups and notifies instructors if anything is unusually stressful for a class participant.
  • Videotapes each scenario so that instructors can track the progress of each woman and the participants can see the development of their own self-defense skills.
  • Keeps records of any injuries in the class.

Class assistant leadership for course tasks

The female instructor is the team leader, but the male instructors and class assistants also take leadership for different aspects of the course. To assist the women and the instructors, we ask that class assistants take leadership for making sure someone shows you how to do a task and once you know what to do, then you implement it.

Make sure Kleenex is available in circles

Do and distribute nametags

Distribute, collect, and organize paperwork

Provide duct tape for students with injuries

Ask participants to remove their jewelry

Video the scenarios

Set up TV/VCR for viewing

Set up and dismantle mats with the help of others

Wash mats first day of class and other times if needed

Duct tape mats if needed

MET October 30, 2007

Monday, March 3, 2014

What Are the Latest Stats on Sexual Violence and What do They Mean?

Ten self-defense instructors certified by the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation met via a phone conference call to discuss the March 2013 publication of a Special Report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics “Female Victims of Sexual Violence, 1994-2010” (Planty et al 2013).

We noted that consistent across the time-span is that women and girls are more likely to be attacked than men (91% female). Most attackers know the women or girl they attack (78%) and attacks are more likely to occur near or in the home of a victim or someone she knows (67%). Single, unarmed attackers are more common than armed (11%) or multiple attackers (10%).

Self-defense instructors pondered what it means that completion of sexually violent acts has declined in the last 15 years, although attempted rapes has stayed the same. We noted that this decline is consistent with a drop for other types of crime and hope future research will investigate the extent to which self-defense training and other violence prevention work has influenced the reduction in completed acts of sexual violence.

Major highlights:

· From 1995 to 2010, the estimated annual rate of female rape or sexual assault victimizations of females 12 and older declined 58%.

· In 2005-10, females who were age 34 or younger, who lived in lower income households, and who lived in rural areas experienced some of the highest rates of sexual violence.

· In 2005-10, 78% of sexual violence involved an offender who was a family member, intimate partner, friend, or acquaintance.

· In 2005-10, the offender was armed with a gun, knife, or other weapon in 11% of rape or sexual assault victimizations.

· The percentage of rape or sexual assault victimizations reported to police increased to a high of 56% in 2003 before declining to 35% in 2010, a level last seen in 1995.

· The percentage of females who were injured during a rape or sexual assault and received some type of treatment for their injuries increased from 26% in 1994-98 to 35% in 2005-10.

· In 2005-10, about 80% of female rape or sexual assault victims treated for injuries received care in a hospital, doctor’s office, or emergency room, compared to 65% in 1994-98.

· In 2005-10, about 1 in 4 (23%) rape or sexual assault victims received help or advice from a victim service agency.

Planty, Michael, Lynn Langton, Christopher Krebs, Marcus Berzofsky, and Hope Smiley-McDonald. 2013. Female Victims of Sexual Violence, 1994-2010. Washington DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics.