Monday, May 26, 2014

Women Aren’t Weak or Crazy!

One of the most difficult things for people who take or teach women’s self-defense to comprehend is the lack of attention to self-defense against sexual assault in scholarly literature and activist work on women’s safety and prevention of and resistance to sexual assault. Seemingly unconsciously accepting old ideas that women are weak or crazy, anti-violence activists and scholars often assume women are incapable of self-defense or that if women do learn to defend themselves that they will unthinkingly beat-up any man who crosses their path.

Martha McCaughey and Jill Cermele have co-edited a Special Issue of the scholarly journal Violence Against Women in order to bring self-defense into the international and national conversation about stopping sexual assault. They have assembled five research articles and four reflection pieces in Violence Against Women Special Issue: Self-Defense Against Sexual Assault: March 2014; Vol. 20, No. 3 (available through a university library). IMPACT Chicago will feature one article a month for the next nine months. The Table of Contents is below along with the month when a summary of an article will appear on the IMPACT Chicago blog.

Violence Against Women Special Issue: Self-Defense Against Sexual Assault
Special Issue Editors: Martha McCaughey and Jill Cermele

Does Self-Defense Training Prevent Sexual Violence Against Women? Jocelyn A. Hollander

July Resisting Rape: The Effects of Victim Self-Protection on Rape Completion and Injury Jongyeon Tark and Gary Kleck

Self-Defense Training as Clinical Intervention for Survivors of Trauma Gianine D. Rosenblum and Lynn S. Taska

September Exploring the Intersection of Race and Gender in Self-Defense Training Lisa Speidel

October The Group Dynamics of Women’s Self-Defense Training Leanne R. Brecklin and Rena K. Middendorf

November Reflections on Researching Rape Resistance Sarah E. Ullman

December Empowering Self-Defense Training Martha E. Thompson

January Self-Defense or Undermining the Self? Exploring the Possibilities and Limitations of a Novel Anti-Rape Technology Deborah White and Gethin Rees

February From Gun Politics to Self-Defense Politics: A Feminist Critique of the Great Gun Debate Jennifer D. Carlson

Monday, May 19, 2014

Reframing Child Abuse Prevention for Parents & Caregivers

To be effective in preventing child abuse, we need a unified team of supporters in our children's lives. We need to share the same messages with our children. Some good ones to start with are:

  • Children are allowed to show affection at their own pace. Just because they LOVE their Aunt Julia doesn't mean they are ready to hug or kiss her, or that they always want to do so. Help others in their lives understand that by letting your child choose how they show affection helps protect them against sexual abuse!
  • We don't keep secrets in our family. Helping children distinguish between a secret and a surprise can help them understand that they should always tell if something happens that worries them, regardless of what others may say.
  • "No" means "no." Demonstrating that you respect their body sovereignty at a young age can be powerful. Examples can range from a child squealing "No!" when being tickled and stopping to check and see if s/he really wants you to stop, to discussing when you need to help them with their hygiene, nutritional health, or crossing the street. 

The above is an excerpt from “Reframing Child Abuse Prevention for Parents & Caregivers.” IMPACT Personal Safety newsletter, April 2014 by Alena Schaim, Executive Director, IMPACT Personal Safety New Mexico.

Monday, May 12, 2014

I'm Going to Dive Right In

In celebration of “Victorious Woman Month,” I’d like to acknowledge all of you who take the opportunity to face your fears head on, who look at the world and say, “I’m just going to do this. I’m going to dive right in.”

One of the reasons I initially took the IMPACT course was because I refused to live in fear for the rest of my life. As an IMPACT grad, I am no longer paralyzed by the thought of what might happen; I know if something did happen, I could handle it.

I learned more than self-defense skills in the class. I witnessed how courage, wisdom, and power are revealed in times of great challenge. Like they say, “Adversity doesn’t build character, it reveals it.” And what is revealed in an IMPACT class is inspiring.

I’ve had the honor of volunteering and participating in many IMPACT courses over the years and every time I learn something new. I see the esprit de corps, the supporters in awe, and the participants beaming with pride in recognition of what they have accomplished in just a few days – the course is truly life-changing for so many.

If you had an amazing experience with IMPACT too, please share your story with us and with as many women and girls who will listen. It is through our graduates that most people find out about the courses we offer.

Thanks for spreading the word. Here’s to more victorious women in the world!

D.H., IMPACT graduate 1988

Monday, May 5, 2014

Falling Short: The First Report of the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault

IMPACT Chicago instructors participated in sending a letter to the White House Task Force about the importance of including self-defense training in any plan to protect students from sexual assault  ( ) and self-defense instructors across the country gave testimony to the Task Force about research on the value of self-defense (e.g. Amazingly, there is not one word about self-defense training in the report.

IMPACT Chicago Instructor Martha Thompson offers her reaction to the White House Task Force report with an analogy of a water safety program that does not include people learning how to swim. For her reaction, go to