Monday, December 26, 2016

A Room Full of People Finding Their Voice

Standing Up for Self and Others
Photo credit: Kathleen Grant 
IMPACT Chicago wasn’t planning on a late December workshop. In fact, late December is a notoriously difficult time to schedule, well, ANYTHING. But something unexpected happened: the requests for self-defense training were through the roof. IMPACT believes in our broader mission to teach people self-defense in a world where living with dignity and in safety can be hard to come by, and that’s how we knew we needed to respond. We offered a free workshop to all on December 20. Next one: January 11, 6:30-8 pm at the JCFS Knapp Center, 3145 W.Pratt. 
There is nothing that will warm you up faster than a room full of people finding their voice and learning their first physical tools. The attendees brought many things with them: their fear, their feeling of powerlessness, and their desire to be able to not only protect themselves, but to learn how to support someone else in need. They wanted to know how to help.
Workshop Leader Deb leads a knee drill
Photo credit: Kathleen Grant

            While IMPACT’s main program teaches gender-based self-defense from sexual assault, we have found that the principles behind our empowerment model can apply much more broadly. For some, the last few weeks have shone a light on a powerlessness they weren’t aware of in our society; for others, it was a feeling they knew all too well. In the workshop, we were able to come together as a community, to begin to have conversations about what this new climate means, own our fear, and start to take our power back.  
Molly Norris
IMPACT Chicago Instructor
Instructor Molly demonstrates a powerful voice
Photo credit: Kathleen Grant

Thank you to IMPACT Chicago instructors, staff, and volunteers for making this workshop possible: Lisa Amoroso, Kathleen Grant, Rachel Marro, Deb Mier, Molly Norris, and Martha Thompson. Thank you to all those who participated!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Raising Awareness About Human Trafficking: "Kung Fu Nuns"

Photo: Huffington Post
The Drukpa Order in Nepal offered Kung Fu training to the nuns in the order after they experienced harassment and violence. In addition to these changing dynamics between nuns and the public, the nuns have also recognized the rise in human trafficking in response to diasters caused by global warming and leaving poor people especially vulnerable, particularly women and girls who have been subjected to kidnapping, sexual exploitation, and trafficking.

To raise awareness about human trafficking, 500 nuns completed a 4,000 km bicycle trek from Nepal to India. Jigme Konchok Lhamo said that people expect nuns to stay in the temples and pray. She says that the nuns believe they have to go out into the world and act on the words that they pray. 

Reporting by Nita Bhalla, Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst. Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, land rights and climate change. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

Talking to Kids About the Political Climate

Whether or not we talk to children in our lives about politics, kids are hearing adults talk about politics and know that people have different views. Kids are great at detecting when adults in their lives are happy, angry, fearful, gloating, worried, or stressed but may not always understand what is behind these feelings.

Maureen Costello in “What to Say to Kids on November 10 and the Days After” urges adults in kids’ lives to be reassuring and create a sense of safety but not to gloss over truths. Some of those truths:
  • Emotions are strong
  • The country is divided—and not just on politics
  • No one really knows what this election means
  • Voting matters, but it doesn’t happen on its own
  • The majority isn’t always right
  • The majority doesn’t always decide, anyway
  • Kids really are our future

Costello’s points are pretty good for adults, too. For details about each of the points Costello makes, check out the article in Teaching Tolerance.

An additional resource:
Ali Michael. What shall we tell the children? Huffington Post November 8, 2017.

Monday, December 5, 2016

What to do When Your Date is Offensive

In “What to do on a Date with Someone who is Being Offensive,”  Kaitlyn Wilde  in Bustle recommends
  • Take a deep breath
  • Consider your objective
  • Go for it
  • See it their way
  • Take the opportunity to teach
  • Stand up for yourself
  • Know when to drop it
  • Stand your ground
  •  Move on

For details, check out Wilde’s article.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Make a Difference: Say Something

Interpersonal violence--like domestic violence, sexual assault, or street harassment of someone because of their identity--is scary for the person experiencing it and those witnessing it. Saying something to interrupt, intervene, or stop interpersonal violence can contribute to an individual's safety and create a safer community.

Knowing that it is challenging to know what to do when witnessing interpersonal violence and to know how to keep oneself safe as well, Empowerment Self-Defense Instructor Lynne Marie Wanamaker and Safe Passage of Northampton MA have put together the Say Something Superhero Field Guide: A Manual for Eliminating Interpersonal Violence.

The Say Something Superhero Field Guide includes:
  • Information about what safe communities look like, what violence is, and what trauma is
  • Developing skills like intuition, preparation, judgment, assertiveness, and dealing with awkward situations
  • Ways to be an effective bystander, such as, self-awareness, community, resilience,awareness of trauma, self-care.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Living Out Loud: Actress Viola Davis Speaks Out About Sexual Assault

At the annual brunch of the Rape Foundation, honoree and actress Viola Davis shared personal stories about sexual assault and its devastating effect on her own life and those of women in her life.

Kristina Rodulfo in "Viola Davis Gives Devastating Speech on Sexual Assault" reports that Davis who is an advocate for the Rape Foundation urged the attendees to support the Rape Treatment Center, listen to the stories of survivors, and to "live out loud." Davis says living out loud is "living a life that's bigger than yourself." 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Let's Build a Non-Violent World

The past few months have shown us that there is much work left to be done. Many people have stood up for the rights of immigrants, LGBTQ, minorities, and women. Others have been emboldened to terrorize, intimidate, and  harass. IMPACT is based on the idea that we do not have to choose between our personal safety and our freedom nor do our safety and freedom come at the expense of others. The IMPACT Chicago mission is to end violence and build a non-violent world in which all people can live safely and with dignity. Our goal is to teach self-defense so that women and girls will have the tools to prevent, minimize, and stop violence.  Everyone has the right to be safe, to protect themselves, and to live their life free from intimidation, persecution, exploitation, and assault.

To contribute to creating a safer world, IMPACT Chicago:
  • has added two Core Programs to the 2017 schedule 
  • will offer both Advanced programs in 2017
  • is training a new lead instructor
  • is taking applications for new suited instructors
  • will continue our sliding scale so anyone regardless of income can take a program
  • is exploring ways to bring more tools to more people

Monday, November 7, 2016

Stopping Street Harassment

A man grabbed and picked up supermodel Gig Hadid outside a Milan fashion show and she struck him in the face with her elbow. Initial reaction from reporters was critical, implying that a supermodel should put up with harassment and sexual assault.
In "Gigi Hadid Will Not Accept Street Harassment, and Neither Should You,," Lena Dunham reports that Hadid said:"Honestly, I felt I was in danger, and I had  every right to react the way I did." 
For more on street harassment:
Free, 24/7 support and information in English and Spanish. Toll-free: 855-897-5910.
Offers on-line resources, direct services, safe public spaces mentoring program, documents street harassment in the U.S., and lots of resources for addressing street harassment.

Monday, October 31, 2016

I Want Everyone to Know About IMPACT: Janette Scott

Janette Scott, IMPACT Chicago Board 
Janette Scott, new IMPACT Chicago Board member, is a Project Architect at Wheeler Kearns Architects where she works with residential clients and non-profit organizations, including schools and religious groups. Recently her office completed Lakeview Pantry on Sheridan Road. She and other staff will volunteer there, sorting supplies and stocking shelves. Janette will also be volunteering with Habitat for Humanity in November. On a personal note, Janette loves to make things. She crochets and always has at least one sewing project going. Mostly she make gifts for babies, birthdays, and holidays.

September 2016 IMPACT Chicago Board
Janette was motivated to volunteer for IMPACT as a way to give thanks for her own IMPACT
experience and then her commitment grew into supporting other women by serving on the Board. She wants everyone to know about IMPACT and finds making it possible for others to take IMPACT extremely rewarding. Her first project as a Board member was to coordinate IMPACT Chicago support for IMPACT Boston grad Mal Malme who was running the Chicago Marathon to raise money for IMPACT Chicago instructors to receive training to teach IMPACT:Ability, a program for people with disabilities. A lively group of volunteers cheered on Mal with the signs that Janette created.

IMPACT Volunteers Cheer on Mal

Monday, October 24, 2016

You know self-defense, I better watch myself.

In "An Open Letter from a Jane, to the Assholes She's Dated Who Say Stupid Things When They Find Out She Knows Self-Defense," Jane takes people to task who cannot figure out how to respond to a woman who knows self-defense.  

Have you ever had anyone say to you: "You know self-defense, I better watch myself or you'll kick my ass. Hahahaha!" Jane says, they are really saying:  "what a joke--if I wanted to attack you, you couldn't do anything about it." 

So Jane says things that she would like to say, such as, I don't hit people just because they say stupid things and if I were going to kick you, it would not be your ass, but your testicles because they are a much more vulnerable target.

For more about what Jane would say to guys she's dated who have said stupid things about her knowing self-defense, check out See Jane Fight Back

Monday, October 17, 2016

Developing Skills to Meet Courageous Disclosures

Our next challenge, now that there is so much truth-telling, is developing the skills to meet these courageous disclosures.
We know a tremendous amount about trauma and healing now. But -- and I say this as a social worker -- we cede this knowledge to professional clinical spaces. We think that people who have been hurt can be helped in the magical therapeutic treatment space, and polite social discourse can remain untroubled by this ugliness.
I say this as someone whose life has been absolutely transformed by what I have found in the magical therapeutic treatment space.
But if recent events tell us nothing else, they tell us that the general discourse cannot be shielded from interpersonal and sexual trauma.
This is why we have to learn skills of empathy: The ability to be present to someone else's strong emotion. The willingness to be awkward when we're not sure what words are right. And, the right words:
I'm sorry that happened to you.
I believe you.
You didn't deserve that.
That wasn't your fault.
I'm glad you told me.
Lynne Marie Wanamaker, Facebook post, October 15, 2016

Monday, October 10, 2016

Making Out Like a Virgin: Sex, Desire, & Intimacy After Sexual Trauma

Contact Tavia Gilbert, Publisher

Sex, Desire & Intimacy
After Sexual Trauma

Edited by Catriona McHardy and Cathy Plourde


According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network):
  • Every 2 minutes an American is sexually assaulted.
  • 1 out of every 6 women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime.
  • Ages 12-34 are the highest risk years for rape and sexual assault.
  • 90% of all rape victims are female.
  • Approximately 70% of rape and sexual assault victims experience moderate to severe distress, a larger percentage than for any other violent crime.

There are many helpful resources available to victims of sexual trauma, but there is little information about how to move beyond mere survival. Animal Mineral Press—a new publishing company that focuses on books promoting healthy aspects of sex, sexuality and relationships—hopes to change that with the release of premiere title, MAKING OUT LIKE A VIRGIN: Sex, Desire & Intimacy After Sexual Trauma (Portlyn Media Trade Paperback Original; October 18, 2016; $16.99). In this new book, editors Catronia McHardy and Cathy Plourde provide an inspiring, moving collection of personal nonfiction essays that detail how writers from around the world have moved beyond mere survival of sexual trauma to unapologetically discover sexually and emotionally thriving lives.

The survivors in this bold, new book do not recount their individual traumas. Instead, they do something much more profound; they reveal how they reclaimed their bodies and their sexual desires. By telling their stories, these writers share their strength and successes found somewhere between the big shifts and small intimate moments, inspiring others while furthering their own healing.

The title MAKING OUT LIKE A VIRGIN reflects the idea of a rich and full life after trauma—something that can be difficult to imagine while busy surviving. Reclaiming life after trauma means relearning to think about sexuality in positive ways, exploring, affirming, and safe. The editors looked for contributors who could explore their sexuality as exciting and lustful, with desire and intimacy that was open and mutual. These narratives are an invitation for survivors who have been wounded to come back, try it again, love your body, and to say it is possible to get back to that place.

The anthology features contributions from 17 people: women, men, and transgender; ranging in age from their mid 20s to their late 60s; hailing from 6 countries including the United States, Canada, Australia, Ireland, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates.

The voices in this book are a start. None of the writers offer up the usual magazine headlines or “ten secrets” or “best tips” or “quick results” because there aren’t any. There are common threads that unite them as people who have retrieved and embraced feelings for lustful sex, desire, and intimacy. Each of them challenges the notion that survivors of sexual violence are not "supposed" to be sexual beings; they decline to be shamed or pitied, refuse to retreat as damaged. Instead, they define what is expected and accepted for victims and survivors after trauma on their own terms.

Edited and introduced by Catriona McHardy and Cathy Plourde with a foreword by Sue William Silverman, author of LOVE SICK: One Woman’s Journey Through Sexual Addiction. Paperback, audio and eBook formats will release simultaneously. Tavia Gilbert, the award-winning narrator and Co-Publisher of Animal Mineral Press, will perform the audiobook edition of the book.

MAKING OUT LIKE A VIRGIN is the book that everyone who has been directly been affected by sexual violence--survivors, their loved ones, practitioners in the field, educators, and social scientists alike--will reach for when they want to hear from those who have found a way out from under labels and limitations.

To receive a review copy, arrange an interview, or obtain additional information, please contact Tavia Gilbert:, 207-558-1708.

Portlyn Media is an imprint Animal Mineral Press – a new publishing company that covers different aspects of sex, sexuality, and relationships, including non-fiction, faith-based romance, erotica, and other fiction for youth, new adults, and adults.

MAKING OUT LIKE A VIRGIN: Sex, Desire & Intimacy After Sexual Trauma
Portlyn Media Trade Paperback Original; October 18, 2016
(Memoir/Sexual Abuse/Recovery, ISBN# 978-1-944568-00-9, 186, $16.99)
Portlyn Media Ebook, October 18, 2016, ISBN# 978-1-944568-01-6

Portlyn Media AudioBook, October 18, 2016

Monday, October 3, 2016

Suited Instructor Bruce Brio Retires

Dear IMPACT Chicago Self Defense Community,     

This letter serves as notice to the IMPACT Self Defense Community that I have retired as a suited instructor. It has been such a pleasure working with all of you over the last twelve years, but after many years of using my body to help teach self-defense, I’ve decided that I would like to parlay my acquired skills into a new position within the organization that is less physical.

I can whole heartedly say, my journey has been a transformative one. It has educated and inspired me in unimaginable ways. One of the highlights of my teaching experience has been watching you make the empowering transformation in the class from day one, to day three or four. I sincerely hope I am replaced with an instructor who will not only give all of him or herself to the craft, but also receive as much knowledge and growth as I have, working with the great staff and students over many years.

Although my new role has not yet been identified, I look forward to serving you in that new capacity once it is determined.

I thank you all for the opportunity to work for IMPACT Chicago Self-Defense. I wish each and every one of you much success, and I look forward to working with you in a new capacity within Impact Chicago.

Sincerely Yours
Bruce Brio

Monday, September 26, 2016

Paris: Standing for Ourselves and for One Another

Recently I went to Paris for a quick vacation.  My partner could not go on this trip and, as I love to discover new countries and places on my own, I took off for a week in Paris.

My hotel had a security policy where room keys were dropped off upon leaving and picked up when returning.  When I returned around 11pm one night, I stopped by the front desk to pick up my key and to ask about getting more creamer for my coffee.  I also wanted to ask a question about a sign posted in the elevator which stated the water would be turned off for 3 hours the following day which is fairly significant for a hotel, but the exact time was unclear.

Last Time I Checked, Elevators are Not Invitations for Non-Consensual Activity
The front desk man started talking to me in an overly familiar way, calling me “Princess” and then asking for my name.  He gave me the creamer and when I asked about the sign in the elevator, he said he needed to look at it.  I kept an eye on him as I was already in the elevator.

He leaned in to read the sign and told me something that made no sense regarding the timing of the water issue.  I thanked him for his help and as I was preparing to go on my way, he attempted to lean in to kiss me.  It was a rather disgusting attempt, and awkward and bizarre.  It was also the one place in the hotel where no one could see and was an incredibly confined space.  I quickly turned away, told him this was not a cool move, and eventually had to put my hand on his chest to push him away. 

In the almost ten years since I graduated from IMPACT’s Core, I have not once had to use more than my voice, but given the proximity as well as his audacity, I had to move him back physically as well.  After moving him out of my proximity, he then backed out of the elevator and I went upstairs to my room, knowing that after picking up my key, he knew the room I was in and he knew I was staying there unaccompanied. 

After arriving back inside of my hotel room, I stood in the middle of the floor stunned by what had just transpired.  I could not believe the pathetic gall.  I refused to go to bed afraid and I was unfathomably angry.  A person should be able to ask for some goddamned creamer for coffee as well as when the hotel will be out of water without the night attendant attempting to take advantage of no one being around.  So I went back downstairs to the lobby and confronted him.  I strongly told him that that was not okay, to never do that to me or anyone else again or I would report him. 

I remembered in IMPACT the concept of the final step of “911” (now “walk to safety but with the same meaning to reach out for support).  I reached out on Skype to my partner, but I also knew I could reach out to my IMPACT sisters for support if I felt the need.  I knew those in The Circle would support me, yell with me, and listen to how it also hurt my feelings.  And recognize that we are courageous to be the agents of change.

His Consequence
After considering the incident, the fact that he was so brazen, he had likely done this many times, and how horrifying to have anyone let alone the hotel night attendant behave like this, I decided to file a report with the hotel manager. 

Important Thoughts to Note when Responding to a Report
The following is a reflection that I would like to emphasize after deciding to report: the concept of fear, particularly social fear and the stigma that keeps this cycle thriving.  I was not afraid of retribution of the night attendant. I was also not afraid of retribution by the hotel. 

I was afraid that I would be blamed. 

And to me that was the scariest part of opening my mouth to say what happened.  This concept of blaming women for the misbehavior of men can render a wounding so deep, the fear of it can be almost equally painful (sometimes even more so) as the incident. 

Several scenarios ran through my mind of responses I had heard prior when sexual harassment or other attempts had been made on me or others: 

1)     Laughing. If you are a woman, you know what this means.  You report, and you get a guffaw of “boys will be boys and this is funny” response.  The message is not only permissive (even encouraging) of this behavior, but also blames women for taking themselves and their personal rights, dignity, and desires seriously.

2)     The, Let’s Evaluate How Pretty You Are response usually summarized by insinuations of “How could he help himself?” almost as though that is a compliment.  How could he help himself literally means that “you are so lovely, you attract assholes and non-consensual advances and should feel special for this.”

3)     The, He’s a Young Lad and You Expect Too Much response.  Because apparently, respect takes education, age, and genius.

4)     The, What Were You Wearing response.   Sigh.

5)     The, What Time of Night Was It response.  Because apparently Werewolves appear at night and any woman out past curfew is just asking for trouble. 

6)     The, It Was Probably Cultural response.  Because other cultures are supposedly less-than in cultivating human respect and consent.

7)     The, Why Are You Traveling without a Man response. 

8)     The, There Must Have Been a Misunderstanding response.   Yes.  Invading my space with your lips can be confusing. 

9)     The, Is There Anything in your Background that would Cause You to Hallucinate response.  Hopefully I can claim that if I punch you.

10) The, Did You Give Him Some Sort of Signal response.  Hm.  Apparently he has a problem around vaginas.  Can a vagina signal?

11)The, No One Has Ever Mentioned this about Him Other than You response.  I wonder why that is…?

Disbelief.  Blame.  Excuses.  Isolation.  Talking about you and not about him.  Expecting more from women than from men in terms of sexual and basic respect. 

Think about it—the majority of women you know have all experienced this to some degree in response to what they deal with on any given day from men.  None of these ridiculous interrogations are foreign to us when we open our mouths about the perpetrations of men.    

And the consequences for these responses in our society are deadly, permissive, and keep the cycle running smoothly.  It cannot be emphasized enough that if someone tells you they have suffered sexual misconduct, violence, gender discrimination:  believe them, get involved, don’t be a useless bystander, ask the women in your life questions regarding your own beliefs and behavior.  Be part of the solution.  Call to account yourself, strangers, friends.  Use your voice.  Get on the right side:  the oppressed, the abused, the violated, the hunted. 

The power of response became apparent to me in a different way as I walked to the report the following morning to open my mouth and tell the two at the front desk what had happened the evening prior.  I was so afraid of being laughed at and blamed as can be the usual response nine times out of ten.  But they took it seriously, they talked to the manager, the manager asked me to file a hard-copy report, and apologized for it.  Other responses were not entirely what I would have liked or were the most helpful, but it amazed me how these basic first steps made me feel better about the situation.  I felt a little less alone. 

If terrible responses can hurt, silence, and continue the cycle, positive ones can push for healing and for change.  And this is how we begin.  We listen, we believe, we take things seriously, we refuse to die, and no matter the setting, the culture, the onlookers, the judgment or the embarrassment, we stand for ourselves and for one another—knowing that even as we are alone in an elevator with a perpetrator—we are not really alone on or off this mat.  We stay on one another’s line.

Sarah E. Grove
IMPACT Chicago Core Graduate 2007

Special note:  My story may have happened in Paris, but is in no way indicative of France or Parisians.  This story is about an offender, not a location). 

The Little Mermaid Explains 7 Types of Catcalls

With the Little Mermaid as a guide, Meghan Sara explains “The Seven Types of Catcalls.”  

  • Stating the obvious (you got tattoos, an ass, breasts, etc.)
  • The "compliment" (sender expects a smile and a thank you)
  • "Fat" calling (saying something mean)
  • Where are you going? (why would I tell a stranger this?)
  • The grab and go (touching someone without their permission)
  • The drive-by
  • Smile (no)
Although these might be all too familiar, having the Little Mermaid explain them underscores how inappropriate they are. For the details, click here.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Middle School is a Time of Expanding Horizons: Let’s Stop Harassment of Girls

Empowerment self-defense instructor Clara Porter identifies sexual harassment as a community responsibility. In “A Streetwise Approach Can Stopthe Street Harassment of Children,” Porter urges us to see harassment of girls as unacceptable and not as an expected part of growing up.  
While we need to work at the community level to stop harassment, Porter also urges us to provide youth with tools to address harassment.
            IMPACTfor Girls is October 8 and 9. Encourage girls 12-15 that you know to check it out. In this eight-hour program, girls will increase:
  • Self-assurance when walking alone
  •  Ability to figure out what to say or do when experiencing interpersonal discomfort
  • Communication skills
  • Physical and verbal confidence.

 For more information, contact Tara at or click here.

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Benefits of Setting Boundaries

One of the most important elements in IMPACT is the opportunity to practice setting boundaries with others. In “10 great thingsthat happen when you set boundaries,” Lindsay Holmes identifies the benefits of setting boundaries. Some of the benefits include: greater self-awareness, taking better care of yourself, being a better partner and friend, reducing stress, being more compassionate, and having time to do the things you want to do. For more on Holmes’ view of boundaries, click here.
                Consider taking the IMPACT Core Program or IMPACT for Girls to have a chance to practice boundaries or contact us about offering a boundary setting workshop at your workplace, community center, or other location. Contact Tara at


Monday, September 5, 2016

Stop Racial and Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Today is Labor Day, a public holiday celebrating the contributions of workers to the well-being of the United States (DOL).  While we celebrate those contributions, it is also a time to reflect upon the well-being of workers.

            The majority of women have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, with racialized gender stereotypes contributing to a high incidence of  sexual harassment of women of color (AWARE 2016; Hernandez 2000).  According to the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC): “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual's employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual's work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.
            Harassment is a type of employment discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, (ADEA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, (ADA).  It is the responsibility of employers to prevent sexual harassment.  Employers need to monitor their workplaces and take all complaints seriously. Just like other forms of sexual abuse and assault:
  • ·         The person targeted for harassment is not to blame.
  • ·         Aggressors will try to silence their targets and, when identified, try to shift blame to those they have targeted.
  • ·         While we are working collectively to change the culture and social structures that create and perpetuate racial and sexual abuse and assault, we also need to provide women and girls with tools to interrupt harassment in the workplace now.  Important individual tools to interrupt harassment: speaking up, keeping a journal, and getting support from co-workers and, if you have one, your union  (ITUC 2008).
So let’s celebrate Labor Day today but also work together to change the culture and structure of workplaces that perpetuate racial and sexual harassment to an environment that values the well-being of all its workers.
Martha Thompson, IMPACT Chicago Instructor      
AWARE (Association of Women for Action and Research).  2016. Workplace Sexual Harassment.
Department of Labor, United States. Nd. History of Labor Day.
EEOC. Nd. Facts about sexual harassment.
Hernandez, Tanya Kateri. 2000. Sexual harassment and racial disparity: The mutual construction of gender and race.
ITUC (International Trade Union Confederation). 2008. Stopping sexual harassment at work.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Empowerment Self-Defense Advocacy Coalition

In the 1970s, self-defense training was an integral part of the women’s movement (Matthews, 1994; Searles & Berger, 1987).  As rape victim services were professionalized, the focus of anti-rape work shifted from “stopping rape” to “managing rape,” marginalizing feminist self-defense (Matthews, 1994; Searles & Berger, 1987).  This marginalization has continued not only because of the shift in focus, but also because police and traditional martial arts programs began offering women’s self-defense programs and the feminist focus of women’s self-defense has been overshadowed by and confused with fear-based, non-women-centered self-defense programming. As social justice, empowerment-focused, and feminist-based self-defense instructor Carmel Drewes says,  “even though empowerment self-defense is documented to reduce sexual assault (Senn et all plus years and years of anecdotal evidence), it has been completely shut out of federal sexual assault prevention efforts through the DOJ and the CDC.
            This fall a small group of feminist self-defense instructors are gathering in Washington D.C. to kick-off a campaign to bring empowerment self-defense to the forefront of the anti-rape movement. Because many of these experts work for nonprofits, they do not have organizational resources to travel so they have set up a gofund me to raise money to support those of the group with limited resources. Carmel says: “If you can support us at any level, or help spread the word, you'll be helping a group of us meet this fall to galvanize a national strategy to include Empowerment Self Defense in all types of violence prevention efforts and research.” To make a donation or read more about the Empowerment Self-Defense Advocacy Coalition, click here.
Martha Thompson
IMPACT Chicago Instructor

Matthews, N. A. (1994). Confronting rape: The feminist anti-rape movement and the state. London, England: Routledge.
Searles, P., & Berger, R. J. (1987). The feminist self-defense movement: A case study. Gender & Society, 1, 61-84.
Senn, C.Y., M. Eliasziw, P.C. Barate, W.E. Thurston, I.R. Newby-Clark, H.L. Radtke, and K.L. Hobden. (2015).  Efficacy of a Sexual Assault Resistance Program for University. New England Journal of Medicine 372:2326-2335. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

IMPACT Self-Defense and Counseling: An Effective Collaboration

The Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) ofMontclair University and Prepare Inc which offers IMPACT in the greater New York area have developed an effective collaboration for students who have experienced sexual violence. At the IMPACT International Directors Meeting in New York City in August, researchers and staff psychologists Lisa Weinberg and Jennifer Vogel-Davis reported that 22% of the students who come for counseling at Montclair University have experienced sexual violence and 33% have experienced harassment, abuse, or controlling behaviors.  In an innovative program, CAPS and Prepare offer “Self-Defense Training/Group Counseling for Women” each fall. Based on a pretest, posttest, and 5 month follow-up, Weinberg and Vogel-Davis have found that participants report a decrease in PTSD symptoms and increases in interpersonal and self-defense self-efficacy. This combination of counseling and self-defense training has increased the retention rates of college students with a history of sexual trauma.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Mal Malme Running to Bring Training for People with Disabilities to Chicago

Mal Malme, an IMPACT Boston grad, is going to run in the October Chicago marathon to raise money to train IMPACT Chicago instructors to teach IMPACT:Ability, a nationally recognized safety program for people with disabilities developed by sister organization IMPACT Boston under the leadership of Meg Stone.  Mal has run in the Boston marathon twice and when she decided to run in the Chicago marathon, she decided to run to support IMPACT Chicago. IMPACT Instructors have wanted to do the training, but we have not had the funds. Thank you, Mal!
            In the IMPACT:Ability curriculum, people with disabilities learn and develop their ability to recognize unsafe situations and respond with effective self-protective behaviors. Participants learn to advocate for themselves in everyday situations as well as learn skills to deal with dangerous situations, such as bullying, harassment, attempted abduction, and sexual violence.  Research by the Institute for Community Health found that the program increases participants’ knowledge, self-confidence, and self-protective behaviors.  Click here to contribute to the fund.



Monday, August 8, 2016

Sunny Graff: Figuring Out Self-Defense for Ourselves

Sunny Graff worked with Women Against Rape in Columbus Ohio in the early 70s  to develop a system of feminist self-defense and assertiveness training. The system has grown and changed over the years and is currently taught across Europe. On July 23, 2016, Sunny received the Association of Women Martial Arts Instructors Hall of Fame Award for 40+ years of martial arts.  Here is her acceptance speech, providing a brief glimpse of self-defense in the 1970s.Thank you, Sunny, for all the work you have done and continue to do.

I started the martial arts looking for self-defense. It was the early 70’s, I was 21 and running a rape crisis hotline from my home. I had already lost the first of three friends to male violence. I was paralyzed with fear. I was tired of trying to patch up victims after an assault and thought that somehow there had to be a way to prevent violence. 

At that time, there was no self-defense for women. My plan was to infiltrate the male martial arts world, steal the knowledge and bring it back to the women’s community.   In the first schools I went to, the instructors hit on me. Eventually I found a Kung Fu school where, although there was no dressing room for women, at least I wasn’t harassed.

I didn’t find self-defense. For that I needed to go back to the women’s community and figure it out for ourselves.....which we did. What I did find was a sense of my own strength and the absolute magic of martial arts movement. I was immediately hooked.…but totally isolated.  It was incredibly challenging to be a radical feminist activist trying to negotiate my way through a traditional hierarchical patriarchal martial arts system.

In 1976 I attended an all women’s summer martial arts camp in Minneapolis organized by Nancy Lehmann, which was a precursor to our current Special Trainings. I cried for joy when I met my first women black belts and other strong wonderful feminist martial artists. I cemented friendships, which have lasted four decades.

A few years later when we founded the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation (NWMAF) there were still only a handful of us throughout the nation. And look at us now! We are everywhere, and we are awesome!

I am so grateful to all the wonderful women who have lead, nurtured and grown NWMAF and founded, guided and sustained the PacificAssociation of Women Martial Artists and the Association of Women Martial Arts Instructors. We have three fabulous organizations and as evidenced by the line up of organizers, presenters, teachers, demonstrators and award winners—an abundance of excellence!

I have been inspired by each and every one of you. I am nurtured and sustained by your commitment, dedication, determination and tireless energy for the promotion of women and girls in the martial arts, empowerment self-defense and racial and social justice. 

Thank you.
Sunny Graff

Monday, August 1, 2016

Perception and Compassion

IMPACT graduate Jennifer Hill was inspired to write about compassion by the women in her IMPACT class and by an Anais Nin's quote: "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are."

In her blog  "Perceptions," Jennifer reflects on what compassion means to her: "It is not our job to judge. Our job is to listen when asked, and to provide support when called upon."

Hill, Jennifer. 2016. Perception. Head