Monday, May 25, 2015

What should I know about self-defense training?

Learning self-defense empowers women in ways that go far beyond preventing assault. Self-defense training decreases women’s fear and anxiety and increases their confidence, their sense of self-efficacy, and their self-esteem. Learning self-defense helps women feel stronger and more confidence in their bodies. Women report more comfortable interactions with strangers, acquaintances, and intimates, both in situations that seem dangerous and those that do not.

From Jocelyn A. Hollander, Ph.D. University of Oregon, Women’s Self-Defense Frequently Asked Questions. September 15, 2014.

Brecklin, Leanne R.2008.“Evaluation Outcomes of Self-Defense Training for Women: A Review.” Aggression and Violent Behavior 13:60-76.

Hollander, Jocelyn A. 2004. “I Can Take Care of Myself: The Impact of Self-Defense Training on Women’s Lives.” Violence Against Women 10 (3): 205-235.

McCaughey, Martha.1997.Real Knockouts:The Physical Feminism of Women’s Self--Defense.New York: NewYork University Press.

Ozer, ElizabethM.,and Albert Bandura.1990 . “Mechanisms Governing Empowerment Effects: A Self-Efficacy Analysis.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 58(3): 472-486.

Weitlauf, Julie C., D. Cervone, R. E. Smith, and P.M. Wright. 2001. “Assessing Generalization
in Perceived Self-Efficacy: Multidomain and Global Assessments of the Effects of Self-Defense
Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin 27 (12): 1683-1691.

Weitlauf, Julie C., Ronald E. Smith, and Daniel Cervone. 2000. “Generalization Effects of Coping Skills Training: Influence of Self-Defense Training on Women’s Efficacy, Beliefs, Assertiveness, and Aggression. Journal of Applied Psychology 85 (4): 625-633.

Monday, May 18, 2015

No Selves to Defend

No Selves to Defend: A Legacy of Criminalizing Women of Color for Self-Defense is a compelling anthology edited by Mariame Kaba of Project Nia and the Chicago Alliance to Free Marissa Alexander. The anthology is a collection of examples of how women who have defended themselves (particularly women of color) have been criminalized and punished. Featured are Marissa Alexander, Lena Baker, Inez Garcia, Rosa Lee Ingram, Joan Little, Cece McDonald, New Jersey 4, Cassandra Peten, Bernadette Powell, Juanita Thomas, Yvonne Wanrow, and Dessie Woods.

Kaba created the book as a consciousness-raising tool as well as a means of raising money for Marissa Alexander’s defense fund. Supporters and activists who created the Free Marissa Campaign fought for the freedom of Marissa, a survivor of domestic violence who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing one warning shot upwards to stop her abusive husband during a life-threatening beating. Her warning shot caused no injuries and she had no previous criminal record, yet the Jacksonville Florida police arrested her and charged her with aggravated assault. Earlier this year, Marissa was released from prison after a three-year term, but will remain under house arrest for two more years.

The Free Marissa Campaign kept Marissa Alexander’s case in the public eye, revealing the problems of Florida’s mandatory minimum sentencing laws and the failure of the criminal justice system to adequately protect domestic violence survivors, particularly women of color, who defend themselves against domestic violence.

Ayanna Harris, co-organizer of the Chicago Alliance to Free Marissa Alexander said: "One of the biggest issues and injustices Marissa’s prosecution and incarceration illuminates is the criminalization of women who defend themselves. Marissa Alexander was bound at an intersection that illuminated many ills in our justice system, including mandatory minimum sentencing, the criminalizing of those who defend themselves, [and] inconsistent application of Stand Your Ground laws….(Prupis 2015).”

For more, check out the resources below.


Free Marassia Campaign 

Prison Culture Blog

Project NIA: Building Peaceful Communities

Prupis, Nadia. 2015. “Race, domestic abuse, and a warning shot:Marissa Alexander released from prison, but still not free.” Common Dreams, January 28.

Martha Thompson, IMPACT Chicago Instructor

Monday, May 11, 2015

What You Can Do to Support Sexual Assault Survivors

“A growing body of evidence indicates that the way survivors of many types of trauma are received—in the immediate aftermath of an overwhelming event, or in the course of recovery—can have tremendous impact on their resilience and healing. This means that even if we are unable to stop the evil of sexual assault from happening in every case, we can mitigate its effects.”
Lynne Marie Wanamaker, anti-violence educator and personal trainer.

For the full blog post, go to Lynne Marie Wanamaker. 2015. “First Response: Showing Compassion and Care to Assault Victims.”  MsFit Winter  #7

Monday, May 4, 2015

Do the Effects of IMPACT Last?

One of the reasons IMPACT is such a powerful experience is that women who take the Core Program incorporate the tools and strategies they learn into their bodies.  We hear from many graduates how they used their verbal and physical skills years later without taking an additional self-defense course.   

Margit Cox Henderson and Jeanne Albright, along with assistance from Martha Thompson, Lisa Amoroso, and Theo Pintzuk,  conducted a study comparing IMPACT graduates the day of graduation and graduates who had completed the course 2-4 years earlier who were taking a review course.  Using videotaped scenarios from the graduation and from the follow-up program, raters assessed each participant for her use of self-defense skills (target selection, technique selection, strike accuracy, and technique quality).  In addition, participants completed a survey self-assessing their confidence in their current abilities to use specific skills in real-life situations. For the follow-up course, graduates completed the confidence survey at the beginning of the course and other grads after they completed the course.

The researchers found that whether a recent graduate or not, participants’ self-defense skills were strong and, further the skills of graduates who had taken the course 2-4 years earlier and those who had just completed the course were equivalent—that is, there was no reduction in skills years after completing the course. Although their skills were as strong as recent graduates, women who had taken IMPACT 2 or more years earlier had less confidence in their ability to use their skills in a real-life situation.

So, yes the skills last but confidence is slightly reduced over time. Since confidence is key to using the skills, consider taking a review course to invigorate your confidence in the strong tools that you have and in your ability to apply these skills to new situations.

Henderson, Margit Cox and Jeanne Albright with Martha Thompson, Lisa Amoroso, and Theo Pintzuk. 1994. "Women's Self-Defense Training: Do the Effects Last?" Paper presented at the Midwestern Psychological Association. May, Chicago IL.