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Monday, November 24, 2014

FAQ: What is women’s self-defense?

Over the next few months, the IMPACT Chicago blog will feature a section each month from Women’s Self-Defense Frequently Asked Questions. Jocelyn A. Hollander, Ph.D. University of Oregon, September 15, 2014. First up:

  • Perhaps the most common stereotype of women’s self-defense is a woman—probably young, white, and fit—karate-kicking a stranger in a dark alley or parking garage. However, self-defense is far more than just physical fighting and it is accessible to all women, regardless of their age, race, level of fitness, or physical ability. It also addresses far more than just assaults by strangers.
  • There are many types of self-defense training. The kind that has been most frequently studied by researchers is empowerment self-defense. These classes:
    • Focus on the full range of violence against women, especially acquaintance assaults, which are the most common type of sexual assault.
    • Include awareness and verbal self-defense strategies as well as physical techniques. These skills empower women to stop assaults in their early stages, before they escalate to physical danger.
    • Teach effective physical tactics that build on the strengths of women’s bodies and require minutes or hours rather than years to master.
    • Offer a toolbox of strategies for avoiding and interrupting violence, and, rather than teaching a single “best” way to respond to violence, empower women to choose the options that are appropriate for their own situations.
    • Address the social conditions that facilitate sexual assault and the psychological barriers to self-defense that women face as a result of gender socialization.
Further resource

Thompson, Martha E. 2014. “Empowering Self-Defense Training.” Violence Against Women 20 (3): 351-359.

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