Monday, June 29, 2015

The Neurobiology of Sexual Assault and What It Means for First Responders

Rebecca Campbell, Professor of Psychology and Program Evaluation, Michigan State University, has extensively studied the neurobiology of trauma and the criminal justice system response to sexual assault. She has found that emotional and physical manifestations of trauma can be misinterpreted, resulting in “secondary victimization” whereby treatment by law enforcement is experienced by victims as blaming and insensitive. Her goal is to educate first responders so that understand victims’ behavior (the neurobiology of trauma) and to change how the system responds to victims.

her full presentation online.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Self-Defense Training: The Feminist Thing to Do

Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett argues that providing self-defense classes for women is the feminist thing to do. In the May 21, 2015 issue of The Guardian, Cosslett reflects on how connected self-defense training was to the late 20th century feminist movement and questions why in some contemporary feminist circles the mantra is anti-self-defense. She critiques the commonly heard phrase: “Don’t teach women how not to get raped, teach men not to rape.”

Go to the full article.

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Ability to Defend Oneself Affects All Aspects of Life

Avital Zeisler asks: In a culture of rape, how can we not insist that women learn self-defense? In her April 2015 Huffington Post blog, Zeisler shares her own experience of violence, the role self-defense training played in her healing from an attack by someone she loved, and her call to action for schools and governments.

Read the full blog post.

Please encourage every woman you know to register for one of our summer programs.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Off to College: Defensive Literacy

"What if preparing for violence is just as responsible as acknowledging the possibility of a car accident or fire? When we use seatbelts, we are not inviting car accidents. We are simply being accountable for the possibility that car accidents happen. We have fire drills so we don't have to figure out what to do when the fire is happening. Drilling for violence actually makes one less of a target." Ellen Snortland and Gavin de Becker (2011) 

How parents can support defensive literacy
1. Does your daughter's high school have self-defense training? 
2. When you visit a campus in the spring, or even the fall when you leave your student, insist that the campus NOT depend solely on "rescue" strategies for safety. 
3. Ask your student to promise they will find a designated sober party-person.
4. Does the school have adrenalin based, realistic scenario self-defense training? 

For the full blog, go to Ellen Snortland and Gavin de Becker. 2011.  "Rites of Spring" Huffington Post, November 17.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Voice and Community: Take Back The Night

Having events like Take Back The Night usually give me some sense of conflict – very glad that we are recognizing their importance in our society, but also horrified that they are necessary.  Having an epidemic of domestic and sexual violence perpetrated against women is bad enough; the fact that not enough attention is paid to finding remedies and solutions to this problem that we need wonderful and purposeful events like this to publicize the need for action is, at times, beyond comprehension.

In IMPACT courses, I regularly meet female survivors of gender-based violence.  As I listen to their stories and work with these individuals, I’m always impressed with their tenacity, courage, and strength.  Other things become apparent as well, such as the pervasiveness of this problem in our world, and the unconscionable depths of human behavior seen in the perpetration of these crimes.

From the stories I hear and read, two things of note rise to the front for me in regard to those who commit these crimes.  They rely heavily on two things – silence and isolation.  Sexual predators use these tools to maximum advantage.  That is why events such as Take Back The Night are so powerful and so necessary.  Take Back The Night emphasizes the opposite: voice and community.  Voice to acknowledge and call our attention to these issues, and community to set a standard where human dignity and respect are at such a level that we can someday no longer have to worry about sexual predatory violence.  It is my sincere hope that we can give voice to those who need and desire it, and role model a community that no longer tolerates the commission of these types of crimes.

There are many people who can give you, in far greater detail and context than I, why men commit acts of rape, sexual harassment, and violence against women.  But I will offer one thought on this subject:  they do it because they think they can.  And if we create an environment where voice is used to call out inappropriate behavior, to name bias when it is apparent, to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves, and community is used to give strength to the individual, to end the behavior of male sexual entitlement, and constantly strive for the greater good, perhaps we can make a difference.  Starting here, starting now, we can make a difference.

Rob Babcock, IMPACT Chicago Suited Instructor