Monday, October 29, 2018

Active Shooter Training – An IMPACT Way

Krista Hanley Wings
I sat in the back of a row of chairs, unsure of what I was about to see. Despite the cushy mats and audience of all ages, I held my breath as a man in a large helmet and overalls held a plastic gun to a womans head and demanded she go with him. Anxiety choked my throat and made my heart race. Then she defended herself by knees and kicks, with power and ferocity. When she rose with the gun behind her back and the attacker sprawled at her feet, I knew I needed to learn that.

That graduation was my first experience with Impact, and it came at an important time in my life. As a survivor of the Columbine High School shooting, I lived with palpable anxiety and fear through my late teens and early twenties. It felt like my body was constantly in an adrenaline rush, and I didnt know how to manage triggering experiences. Watching that instructor defend herself successfully against an attacker with a gun changed my life. It made me feel hope. Hope that I wasnt helpless and vulnerable. Hope that I could effect what happened to me. Hope that I had power and choice once again in my life.

Why Impact?

Eleven years later, not only have I learned how to defend myself against an armed attacker, but I now teach with Impact Personal Safety of Colorado. As we developed the curriculum for our chapters Defense Against the Armed Assailant (Weapons) course, I returned again and again to the idea of teaching active shooter training. In my heart, I knew that the class would not be complete without something about active shooters. But how could we teach it in an Impact way?

It might be understandable that my desire to teach active shooter scenarios is deeply personal and emotionally charged. Impact has taught me that when I feel something needs change, then I shouldnt be afraid to advocate for that change. I firmly believed that active shooter training had to be a part of our Weapons course. This is the type of training that is taught in many workplaces, on gun ranges, and in martial arts classes. But Impact is very much an appropriate venue to also take on the topic.

Here is why:
·      Impact is trauma informed – We built a safe environment that focused on the individual students and their needs. As an instructor with trauma, I knew I had to consider what would be too much and what would create response.
·      Layering Information – We threaded the active shooter information through the entire four weeks of class. On the day of the active shooter training, we started with discussion and then did simple exercises with the students like getting on the ground or running out the door.
·      Apolitical – As I researched types of active shooter trainings, I quickly found that 2nd Amendment rights and other political issues were wrapped up in the teaching. Impact recognizes the fact that everyone thinks differently about these issues and we do not judge nor advocate.
·      Not victim blaming – Impact recognizes that it is never the victims fault, and no matter how they respond, it is the right way.
·      Grounded in research – My team researched active shooter and weapons scenarios in order to be more real to life. We watched videos and read statistics in order to be fully prepared for every question and scenario.
·      Know every situation is different – We know that we cannot prepare students 100% for real life. No two fights are the same. We gave our students lots of tools and knowledge in order to be able to best stay safe.

I believe we all need to have active shooter training even though these types of events are very rare. Think about it like plane crashes, they are also extremely rare. Still, every time we get on a plane, we go through the safety spiel with the flight attendants. Impact is the flight attendant for life. We need these skills to keep ourselves safe. Just in case.

Krista Hanley, Lead Instructor
IMPACT Personal Safety of Colorado

For more by Krista Hanley
"Krista Hanley, A Columbine Graduate: Arc Interrupted. March 2014. A Sandy Hook/Columbine Cooperative.
"Pistol Shooting Basics." 2018. Memoir Magazine. (Trigger warning: Krista says some people have found this essay very intense)

Monday, October 22, 2018

Ways to Calm a Young Brain in Trauma

In "7 Ways to Calm a Young Brain in Trauma," Lori Desautels shares ways that she supports her K-6 students, many of whom have experienced trauma. Some of those ways:

  • Taking deep breaths.
  • Collective sound and movement (e.g. drumming a rhythm together).
  • Self-massage (e.g. a rubbing a drop of lotion into one's hands).
  • More movement (e.g. rock along one's spine)
  • Chant with fingers on vocal chords.
  • A wiggling body scan.
  • Dancing with scarves.
For more about what is known about trauma and the brain and Desautels' choices for addressing it, you can read the full article here.

Monday, October 15, 2018

When Violence Hits Close to Home

The American Psychological Association Committee on Women in Psychology is doing a series of posts about violence against women and girls. The first two posts:

Shannon Lynch. 2018. "Hit, Hurt, and Distressed: How Violence and Trauma Put Women at Risk of Incarceration." Psychology Benefits Society.

Administrator. 2018. "Stop the Abuse: Why We Can't Neglect Women with Disabilities When We Talk About Interpersonal Violence." Psychology Benefits Society.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Using Our Voices for Ourselves and Others

Within 24 hours of each other, Brett Kavanaugh was appointed to the Supreme Court and Jason Van Dyke was found guilty of murdering Laquan McDonald. Both situations underscore the deep divisions the United States continues to face  across gender and its intersections with disability, immigration, political power, race, sexual orientation, social class, and so much more. What can we draw upon from IMPACT?

In IMPACT, participants often discover themselves, the abilities and power they already have, and the incredible experience of being part of a supportive community. The confidence we gain in using our bodies, feelings, and minds in scenario after scenario most often expresses itself in our everyday worlds through our voices. 

We have many examples on our blog that highlight the importance of our voices and speaking up, for instance:

·       In “Trust Your Own Voice,” Victoria, 2013 graduate, shares how she gained the confidence through IMPACT to contribute her ideas and opinions in her male-dominated workplace.

·       In “Your Voice Has Power,” Sandria, 2018 graduate, describes stopping a man masturbating in public and ways that she alerted the larger community.

We can also use our voices to challenge 
  • disrespect for the bodies of children, immigrants, genderqueer people, people of color, people with disabilities, and women
  • blaming victims for the violence they experience 
  • uses of personal and political power to disregard and override the NO from others. 
Even when we know speaking up is the right thing to do, we may be afraid.  

Audre Lorde reminds us: 
...and when we speak we are afraid 
our words will not be heard 
nor welcomed
but when we are silent
we are still afraid

so it is better to speak
we were never meant to survive
Audre Lorde From A Litany for Survival

For more encouragement to speak out, check out my personal blog What Martha Thinks for a poem "Look Now" and for ideas about how to join our voices with larger efforts to improve our communities, see  “Challenge the Culture of Silence: Support Survivors and Hold Perpetrators Accountable."

Martha Thompson
IMPACT Chicago
Social Media Editor and Coordinator
Instructor and Administrative Team Co-Leader

Monday, October 1, 2018

Empowerment Self-Defense, 2017-2018

Inspired by participation in the August 2017 ESD Global Incubator, IMPACT Chicago Instructor and Social Media Coordinator Martha Thompson made a commitment to publishing a blog about empowerment self-defense at least once/month and to seeking the contributions of empowerment self-defense instructors from varied organizations. Below is a list of those blogs and links to them.

 Challenging Rape Culture with Empowerment Self-Defense
August 2017 Clara Porter, Prevention Action Change Portland ME

Principles of Empowerment Self-Defense
September 2017   Julie Harmon, IMPACT Safety Columbus OH

What Do Empowerment Self-Defense Students Learn
October 2017 Mona MacDonald, Lioness Martial Arts, Pittsburgh PA

"Rape Culture" and Empowerment Self-Defense
November 2017  Amy Jones, Thousand Waves Martial Arts & Self-Defense Center, Chicago IL

 IMPACT Chicago View of Empowerment Self-Defense
December 2017 Martha Thompson, IMPACT Chicago, Chicago IL

Self-Defense is Not About Eliminating Risk
January 2018 Amy Jones, Thousand Waves Martial Arts & Self-Defense Center, Chicago IL

Empowering ≠ Empowerment Self-Defense  
February 2018 Martha Thompson, IMPACT Chicago, Chicago IL

What is Empowerment Self-Defense
March 2018 Compilation of definitions from: Empowerment Changes, Jay O'Shea, Sun Dragon Martial Arts, Susan Shorn, Lynne Marie Wanamaker

How Can Empowerment Self-Defense Lift the Personal Burdens People Carry?
April 2018 Carol Schaeffer, IMPACT, New York

Is Empowerment Self-Defense Only for Women?
April 2018 Lauren Taylor, Defend Yourself, Washington DC

Reducing Violence Against Boys and Men Improves Community Safety
May 2018 Ernest Wawiorko, IMPACT, New York

Tap Code: When Sexual Assault Survivors Are Not Alone
June 2018 Lynne Marie Wanamaker, Safe Passage, Northampton MA

Is Any Self-Defense Training Better Than None?
June 2018 Clara Porter, Prevention Action Change Portland ME

Challenging Toxic Trauma within the Field of Trauma Treatment
July 2018 Diane Long, Kaleidoscope Healing Arts, Minneapolis MN

Beyond Protection: Perceived Threat, Criminalization, and Self-Defense
August 2018 Jay O'Shea, UCLA, Los Angeles