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