Monday, October 27, 2014

Advocating for Better Health and More Effective Communication: Kelsey Smith, IMPACT Chicago Office Coordinator

My name is Kelsey Smith and I am the new IMPACT Chicago Office Coordinator. In this position, I will be coordinating the office and related program work to support IMPACT Chicago, including maintaining databases, website updates, scheduling, and working with volunteers.

My interest in IMPACT was sparked three years ago when Kaytea, then an IMPACT instructor with IMPACT Personal Safety of Colorado, and Sarah, Co-Director of IMPACT Personal Safety of Colorado, stayed in my apartment as guests of my roommate while they took the IMPACT Defense Against Multiple Assailants course. After their first day, we had dinner and began discussing IMPACT and its mission. The women invited my other roommates and me to their IMPACT ceremony the next day. I attended and it surely made an impact on my life. I truly believe that all people deserve to live a healthy and happy life. I immediately saw that IMPACT gives women the tools to do so in a world that challenges this right every day.

With the influence of IMPACT, I chose a psychology and gender studies degree while focusing my independent research on boundaries and assertiveness. In January 2013, when given the opportunity to create my own independent study, I found myself in San Francisco for a month and took the opportunity to integrate IMPACT Bay Area’s Basics course (similar to the IMPACT Chicago Core Program) with research on boundary setting. I continued this work for the next year and a half, writing my honor’s thesis on assertiveness, health, and gender socialization. Earlier this year, I received my B.A. in psychology from New College of Florida. My academic work has given me a deeper understanding of assertiveness, health, and gender socialization, a perspective I look forward to bringing to the work I will be doing with IMPACT Chicago.

In addition to my dedication to the IMPACT mission, I am also bringing skills that I have developed as a consistent volunteer over the past 12 years with Kamp Dovetail, an organization and camp for kids with disabilities. I have been organizing and communicating with campers, families, and potential donors for years, including managing the Facebook page, developing databases, and organizing fundraisers. I have extensive experience using Google Drive and teaching others how to use it. I am currently working with Planned Parenthood of Illinois and have prior experience as an intern with Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida and Manatee County Health Department and a volunteer with the Chicago Women’s Health Center. My commitment is to continue to work in collaboration with people and organizations striving for better health and more effective communication.

Kelsey Smith, IMPACT Chicago Office Coordinator

Monday, October 20, 2014

Resistance Stops Sexual Assault and Does Not Increase Risk of Injury

Recent research confirms that fighting back against an assailant does not increase the likelihood of injury, but it does increase the likelihood of preventing sexual assault.

Jongyeon Tark and Gary Kleck published a study in Violence Against Women on “Resisting Rape: The Effects of Victim Self-Protection on Rape Completion and Injury.” Their research used data from the National Crime Victimization Survey to answer two questions, ““Are you more likely to be injured when being assaulted if you protect yourself?” and “What self-protection actions are effective in reducing rape completion?”

This study specifically focused on the sequence of self-protective actions and injury: whether injuries were inflicted prior to victims taking self-protective actions (and therefore irrelevant to the question, “Are you more likely to be injured when being assaulted if you try to protect yourself?”) or after taking self-protective actions. The researchers looked at a variety of situations including those in which the victim was attacked or threatened with a gun, attacked or threatened with other weapons (including knives), attacked without a weapon (hit or kicked), and threatened without a weapon.

The results showed that while it is not uncommon for victims of rape or attempted rape suffer injuries, few of these injuries were inflicted after the victim took protective actions. Resistance was rarely followed by the assailant inflicting further injury on the victim.

The researchers also studied specific self-protection actions to determine which actions are most effective. Some of the self-protection actions included were: victim attacked offender with gun, victim attacked offender with other weapons such as a knife, victim attacked without a weapon (hit, kicked, etc.), victim struggled, victim yelled at offender, victim ran away, victim called police, victim tried to attract attention, and victim cooperated or pretended to.

The results found that, “no form of victim resistance was associated with significantly higher risk of rape completion than non-resistance.” The most effective tactics for avoiding rape completion were:

a) Running or driving away/hiding/locking door

b) Attracting attention/calling for help

c) Physically struggling

d) Unarmed attacks on the rapist

This is very much in line with what we teach at IMPACT; if you can safely leave the situation, do so (prevention), if you can’t safely leave, use verbal techniques first (use your voice), and use physical skills as a last resort. These self-protective actions reduce the risk of rape by 86%.

Katie Skibbe, IMPACT Chicago Instructor-in-training

Monday, October 13, 2014

Interrupting Creepy Behavior

I entered the subway and saw a well-dressed young man, white shirt, tie, dark pants, with a small backpack, who would not have caught my attention, except he looked like he was going to speak to me, then thought better of it (maybe he wanted directions). I sat down on a bench nearby and then saw him engage a pretty, young woman. I heard him ask her name, she answered, he stuck out his hand, which she shook briefly, and he started asking her personal questions. My senses went on high alert and I stared hard at the young woman (his back was now to me). She widened her eyes at me in panic mode and I instantly stood up and said in a loud voice: “Hey Sue! [the name I heard her give him] Come over and sit by me!" She hurried over, while he stayed where he was, a few yards from us. I whispered my name to her, and we proceeded to talk as if we were old friends. When the train arrived, he stayed on the platform. As benign as it sounds, the whole episode felt creepy. Sue, (not her actual name) was shaken, said she usually felt helpless in situations like that and was glad that I intervened. I told her I was a self-defense teacher and recommended a self-defense course at Center for Anti-Violence Education, which helps people set strong verbal boundaries, among other skills.

Ryn Hodes, Brooklyn NY, Trained as a self-defense teacher at Center for Anti-Violence Education and certified by NWMAF

Monday, October 6, 2014

IMPACT Chicago launches new website!

Check out the new IMPACT Chicago website!

  • More photos
  • Easier to navigate
  • Direct link to our blog
  • Now includes self-defense news and twitter feed
Thanks to Lisa Amoroso and Nate Tracy-Amoroso for creating the new website. Thanks to Martha Thompson for her continuing work on website content. And a big thanks to Amy Winston who developed the original website and kept it going for 15 years! To see more, go to