Monday, May 20, 2019

Ways to Tell Someone About IMPACT

Fifteen is the maximum number of participants who can enroll in the IMPACT Chicago Core Program or IMPACT for Girls. With our sliding scale, no one has to be held back because of their financial circumstances. Help us make sure there are 15 participants in every class. The number 1 reason someone signs up for IMPACT is because someone they know recommends the program.

Here are some ways grads have encouraged others to register for an IMPACT program:
  • Send a personal email to 1-5 women at least 2 months before an upcoming Core Program, tell them about your own experience of the course and what it has meant to you; let them know about the sliding scale and the buddy discount; and link to our website.
  • Send a personal email to parents with girls ages 12-15 about an upcoming IMPACT for Girls program.
  • Invite a friend, co-worker, or family member to attend a What is IMPACT program with you and to join you in cheering on the women completing the final three scenarios of their class.
  • Share the event information posted on Facebook about an upcoming program.
  • Click “interested” on upcoming IMPACT events on Facebook
  • Share a personal story about the value of IMPACT to you on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media, including a link to our website.
  •  Carry IMPACT Chicago postcards with you and if someone mentions their concerns about safety, share your experience and give them a postcard. To get postcards, contact outreach.
  • Work with your employer to bring an IMPACT workshop to your workplace.
  • Work with your employer to underwrite or match Core Program tuition.
Please tell someone about IMPACT Chicago!

Monday, May 13, 2019

What About Those Safety Tips?

Once you've had a self-defense course, people are often eager to hear about the safety tips you learned, from how to wear your hair to what weapons to carry. In "Safety Tips for Women, Revised" on the IMPACT Boston Blog, Shay Orent offers a look at the dangers of safety tips and suggests instead:
  • Know the signs of healthy and unhealthy relationships
  • Practice boundary setting
  • Know the research

For her analysis of safety tips and more about ways to keep ourselves safe, check out Orent's "Safety Tips for Women, Revised" 

Monday, May 6, 2019

Protecting Kids Without Scaring Them

In " 10 Ways to Teach Your Child the Skills to Prevent Sexual Abuse" published by the Child Mind Institute, Natasha Daniels offers ideas about how to protect children without scaring them.  Her suggestions:

  • Name body parts and talk about them early
  • Teach them that some body parts are private
  • Teach your child body boundaries
  • Tell your child that body secrets are not OK
  • Tell your child that no one should take photos of their body parts
  • Teach your child how to get out of uncomfortable or scary situations
  • Have a code word your child can use if they want to be picked up or feel unsafe
  • Tell your child they will never be in trouble in they tell you a body secret.
  • Tell your child a secret body touch might feel good but they are still not OK
  • Tell them these rules apply even with people they know or another child.
For details and nuances for each of these suggested rules, check out Daniels' article on the Child Mind Institute website: "10 Ways to Teach Your Child the Skills to Prevent Sexual Abuse."

Monday, April 29, 2019

"Get Out of My Home and Don't Come Back"

In Jan Jordan and Elaine Mossman's "Get Out of My Home and Don't Come Back: Empowering Women Through Self-Defense," they report their research on the possibilities of empowerment self-defense programs for preventing domestic violence (Violence Against Women 2019, Vol. 25(3) 313–336).

Women in domestic violence situations who completed an empowerment self-defense course reported:

  • An increased capacity to stop an attack
  • More confidence
  • Increased use of their voice
  • More awareness of violence and their options
Jordan and Mossman conclude that their research "demonstrates the potential of feminist empowerment self-defense programs to build confidence and resilience in women whose lives previously have been circumscribed with fear and violence."

Monday, April 22, 2019

Chicago Organizations Working for Survivors

In "Chicago organizations that support survivors and work to prevent sexual violence"  Reader,  journalist Karen Hawkins identifies five Chicago organizations that are dedicated to supporting survivors and preventing sexual violence. The organizations:

  • A Long Walk Home
  • Apna Ghar
  • Chicago Children's Advocacy Center
  • Chicago Rape Crisis Hotline
  • Howard Brown Health
  • Mujeres Latinas en Acción
  • Resilience
For more details about each organization and what they do, you can find the Reader article here.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Women Can Defend Themselves: I'm Tired of People Lying That They Can't

Our society raises all non-male genders to fear men. We are told that they are too strong for us to fight. When I was growing up, the wise advice we got from the police was, “Don’t resist and you will be okay.” Even at 10 years old I knew that was bullshit.

I used to watch Law and Order: CSI (I stopped watching several years ago for this very reason). One of the main characters, Detective Benson, was a woman who was very good at her job. One day she was assaulted and raped. We had spent many, many years watching this character defend and stand up for herself and be very confident and powerful. She had shot and even killed people in the line of duty. She regularly went into dangerous situations with her colleagues. But when the violence was rape, she was not able to defend herself. REALLY!?!?!? So she can defend the lives of other people, no problem, but when it’s interpersonal violence against herself, she can’t do it???

This is the message we get over and over again…  It’s a lie, and I’m tired of hearing it.

We are all capable of defending ourselves. We were designed to survive and have MANY mechanisms designed to keep us alive. We were born with the will to survive. All we do at IMPACT and other ESD courses is REMIND you of the skills with which you were born and give you the opportunity to practice them. 

Lisa Gaeta
Founder and CEO

Monday, April 8, 2019

DARVO--Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender


What happened when women came forward to hold R. Kelly and Brett Kavanaugh accountable for sexual abuse? According to University of Oregon research Jennifer Freyd, DARVO is what happened. DARVO is short-hand for "Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender." She says it happens when someone who is guilty of sexual assault says that he is the victim of the accuser's lying.

Freyd and colleague Sarah Harsey conducted two experiments to assess the success of DARVO in turning a perpetrator into a victim and vice-versa. In the first experiment, two groups learned of an account of abuse. One group did not have any other information and the other group heard a DARVO response from the perpetrator. Those who heard the DARVO response were more likely to blame the victim and less likely to believe the victim's account.

In the second experiment, half the participants learned about the DARVO response and the other half didn't. The DARVO-educated participants were more likely to find the perpetrator less believeable.

Freyd and Harsey intend to do more research, but believe their results suggests that DARVO is effective in discrediting victims but that DARVO-education can reduce its effectiveness.

Check out Jennifer J. Freyd's webpage What is DARVO to learn more about:
  • Institutional DARVO
  • Empirical research
  • DARVO in the news

Monday, April 1, 2019

Ending Sexual Harassment: Change Workplace Culture

In "Want to End Sexual Harassment? Landmark Study Finds Ousting 'Bad Men' is Not Enough" HuffPost, Emily Peck presents key findings from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Key elements of the report:

Predictors of sexual harassment
The strongest predictor of sexual harassment is company culture. 
If employees believe their workplace takes sexual harassment seriously, then sexual harassment is less likely to occur. In an environment where employees fear retaliation and don’t believe perpetrators will be punished, harassers ― particular company stars ― can more easily get away with bad behavior.

The second strongest predictor is the relative number of women to men.

If men outnumber women, especially at the top, and if the profession is traditionally male, there is likely to be more harassment.

Ways to Build a Better Culture
  • Make it clear what behaviors are not tolerated
  • Identify the consequences for misbehavior
  • Be Transparent
  • Survey employees anonymously to gauge the extent of sexual harassment
You can find the full article here.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Challenging Myths about Empowerment Self-Defense and Domestic Violence

People resistant to training women in domestic violence situations to defend themselves often offer three concerns : women will feel blamed for the violence, it will be too risky for women in domestic violence situations, and it will trigger traumatic memories. 

In "Get Out of My Home and Don't Come Back: Empowering Women Through Self-Defense," Jan Jordan and Elaine Mossman highlight the responses they got from participants in self-defense courses with refugees and others related to these concerns (Violence Against Women 2019. 25(6):313-336.

1. Empowerment Self-Defense Training Affirms Violence is Not Women's Fault While Equipping Women with Skills for Protection of Themselves and Others
"Participants and refuge workers were typically insistent about experiencing the course only in empowering ways and with no hint of victim blaming. This finding reinforced what the self-defense teachers told us about the ways they consciously strove to validate the many different ways women responded to prior victimization. A pragmatic approach to ensuring women’s safety meant that while emphatically affirming violence against women is not their fault, they considered it essential to equip women with skills they could use in their own, and others,’ protection." (p. 329)

Women Practice Recognizing Risks and Explore Options to Minimize Violence
"The feedback we received indicated that an important aspect of the courses involved time spent talking about ways to minimize or avoid the use of violence. The emphasis was on learning ways to manage fear and read situations so that each woman could choose the best and safest response in any given context. This was likely to differ for different women, and even for the same women at different times, being influenced by factors such as how drunk or drugged their partner might be or whether a weapon was present. The self-defense teachers talked us through the ways they worked with the women to explore different options and courses of action they could take when they felt the tension building. The emphasis on protection, not aggression, was well-recognized." (p. 329)

Triggering is Not Necessarily Negative and Empowerment Self-Defense Provides Support 
"Both refuge workers and the self-defense instructors themselves spoke of their awareness that the material presented could trigger reactions and traumatic memories in course participants and sought to be well equipped in each environment with what supports were available. Several of the self-defense teachers said how much they valued support workers participating in the course alongside the women. If someone was triggered, one of the workers could take them aside, while the teacher continued with the rest of the group. Triggering per se was not viewed as a negative consequence." (p. 329-330).

Monday, March 18, 2019

2019 IMPACT Chicago Instructor Retreat

Row 1: Nat, Mark, Martha, AC, Rachel; Row 2: Bruce, Rob, Dominic, Katie, Ben; Missing: Margaret
IMPACT Chicago instructors met for an all-day instructor retreat Saturday March 16. We use our annual retreats as an opportunity to reflect on the past year and to look ahead to the future. Each of us co-organized and co-led a portion of the agenda.

This year we addressed:

  • Teamwork 
  • Technique refinement and adjustments 
  • Instructor development 
  • Organizational expectations
  • New curriculum development

Thank you to our Instructor Team!
Lead Instructors

Suited Instructors
Bruce (retired)
Mark (retired)

Suited Instructor-in-Training

Instructor Trainers


Monday, March 11, 2019

Between Sexual Violence and Healing

In the New York TimesSurviving the Long-Term Trauma of Sexual Violence," photographer Kate Ryan tells of her motivation and process in documenting the complexity of sexual assault with “Signed, X,” a collection of photographs and interviews with 29 long-term survivors of sexual assault. She asked questions:


What triggers you years after sexual violence?
How do you ground yourself in those moments?
Where do you carry stress?
Where do you find hope?

The goal of the project is to expand people’s thinking beyond (1) the violence and (2) being “healed” or “fixed” and to understand the lived experience of dealing with sexual violence over time.

You can find Signed, X at Signed, X is traveling across the country to gather more stories and to raise awareness of the complexities of long-term trauma and survival.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Monday, February 25, 2019

What Does it Take to Believe Survivors?

AP photo

For 20 years, Larry Nassar, an Olympic gymnastics doctor, abused hundreds of women and girls. Women who reported him were not believed until they were. From NPR/Michigan Radio, Believed is a 10 episode podcast chronicling how a group of women won Larry's Nassar's conviction. It also explores how the failure of adults to believe women and girls contributed to Nassar getting away with decades of abuse.

Introducing Believed
The Good Guy
How He Got Away
The Basement
How He Got Caught
The Parents
For One Nassar Survivor, Recognizing Her Own Abuse Took Decades
Larry Nassar’s Survivors Speak and Finally the World Listens-And Believes
Larry Nassar is Behind Bars, But Work Continues for His Survivors

Monday, February 18, 2019

So I Better Behave Then

“So what do you do?”
“I teach self-defense.”

More often than not, upon hearing our answer to a seemingly innocuous question about
our career path, people respond by making fists and mimicking boxing motions, which
are sometimes accompanied by an uncomfortable laugh.

Every profession sparks its fair share of comments, questions, and stereotypes.

In the case of self-defense, especially for women, the picture most people have in their
heads is of a male martial artist or police officer training a much smaller woman.

That may be true in some cases, but that’s not what empowerment self-defense looks
like. And the misconception can lead to some pretty interesting (and sometimes
maddening) conversations.

We recently polled a group of ESD practitioners and asked them about the most
common responses to finding out what we do.

Here are the top 10 responses:

10. Oh. So what martial art do you teach?

Our response:

“Traditional martial arts were designed by men, for men’s bodies, for the way
men fight. ESD was designed by women, for women and is based on the
strengths of women's bodies against the weaknesses of the male body.
In empowerment self-defense classes, women learn verbal and mental

Some of us do teach at least one martial art. But we take the difference between
the two forms of self-defense very seriously.

9. Why don’t you just buy pepper spray? Or download an app? Or carry a big
bag you can hit people with?

Our response:

ESD Global’s president and founder, Yehudit Zicklin Sidikman, came up with what
she refers to as the “shower test:”

“If I don’t take it with me into the shower, it can’t be my primary prevention protocol.”

She also likes to tell people that:

“Unless a ninja pops out of my phone and fights a battle for me right there and then,
I have to put my trust in myself.”

ESD training empowers women to put their trust into their own bodies and not rely
on phones that can go down to once percent battery power or gadgets they might
not always have with them.

8. Women shouldn’t have to take self-defense. It’s victim blaming.

Our response:

“We shouldn’t have to. But we believe in taking responsibility for our own safety.
We take swimming lessons so we can be safe in and around water. We wear
seatbelts to protect ourselves from other drivers.”

We believe strongly that a victim is never responsible for the choices of the person
who initiated violence.

However, we also believe that ESD training provides us with tools for stopping
violence in its tracks.

7. Really? What does your husband think about that?

Our response:


There’s really no way to dignify that with a response. We shut that conversation
down immediately.

6. But you’re so small / nice / feminine.

Our response:

“Everyone is capable of defending themselves. Everyone has a right to
defend themselves.”

And then, under our breath, we might mumble:

“Go ahead. Underestimate me. That’ll be fun,”

Personality, size, etc. has nothing to do with our ability to defend ourselves.
It’s also important to note that ESD techniques can be easily adapted to meet
people’s individual needs.

5. I know all about that. That kind of training doesn’t work because. . .

Our response:

“Actually, empowerment self-defense is the most researched and most proven
violence prevention intervention that exists.”

It’s true. And every day, we see how ESD benefits the women we teach.

4. I can show you what really works.

Our response:

“No thanks. I’m fine.”

Why waste our breath telling them about our years of education, training,
and experience?

3. I could never do any of that.

Our response:

“Yes, you COULD!!!”

We believe that we all have an inner lioness within us who is ready and
able to help us defend ourselves.

As empowerment self-defense instructors, our job is to help women discover
and connect with the strength and power that’s already within them.

2. I wouldn’t want to meet you in a dark alley.

Our response:

Sensei Wendi Dragonfire has figured this one out.

She responds with:

You would be lucky to meet up with me in a dark alley as I would
be helping you.”

1. So you could kick my ass? I’d better behave, then!

Our response:

“You should behave anyway.”

Enough said.

* What comments and questions have you had to deal with as an
empowerment self-defense practitioner?

ESD Global Staff

"So I Better Behave Then and Other Responses to Our Career Choice." Originally posted February 7, 2019 on ESD Global. Reprinted here with permission. Check out the original for additional photos and video.

Monday, February 11, 2019

2018 Donors Make an IMPACT

Thank you to all those who supported the IMPACT Chicago 2018 Fund Drive and the Fundraiser for the Suited Instructor Campaign! Tuition covers about 65% of the costs of the Core Program and IMPACT for Girls. Donors cover the rest. Donations to the Suited Instructor Fund have made it possible for us to train and equip two new suited instructors and to support starting a third suit in training. Your generosity enables us to bring self-defense training to more women and girls. 

Names in Alphabetical order by last name along with any comments. Thank you!

Jeanne Adams  in memory of Grandma Berger
Patrizia Acerra
AJ Aguado
Janet Altman  Impact changed my life. I want to help others benefit from Impact.
David & Janet Altman 
Lisa & Phil Tracy Amoroso on behalf of IMPACT Chicago's incredible staff!
Mary Amoroso
Caryn Andrews
Anonymous Costanzo scholarship fund x 2
Anonymous x28
Bettie Ashbee
Arden Austin
Elizabeth Austin  Here's to your success!!

Judy B
Michele B
Alan Ball
Melissa Banks
Cari Barcas  Proud of you, Robin! 
JM & RC Block
Amy Blumenthal
Mary Boyer
Linda Braasch
Tara Brinkman
Caroline Brown
James Buell

Kellie Carbone  I took an IMPACT class in 1998 and it changed my life. I saw that I was strong and worth defending. The compassion and expertise of the suited instructors were instrumental in that transformation for me.
Joan Carlson
Giulia Casani
M.S. Cohen
Nancy & Ira Cohen  in honor of Martha Thompson
Christina Collins
Dori Conn Took the class almost 30 years ago, carry it with me every day, tell people about it all the time.
Dominic Conti  Keep up the good work!
Dee Costanzo in memory of Adrian Costanzo, for Dianne Costanzo scholarship fund
Kate Cummings
Kevin Cundiff Thank you gentlemen for ALL that you are doing to empower those women. Best of luck!
Tammy & James DeBoer
Michele Dillon
Laura M. Dini
Karen Staib Duffy
Dana Dunham

Sarah Eck
Cheri Erdman in memory of Clare Troop (class of 1989)

Kate Fahlsing
Patti Fievoli  Thank you for this opportunity to contribute to this life changing and inspiring organization.  The skills I have learned lives on in my life every day and spreads as I share my story and experience with others.  I appreciate you all very much.  
Lauren Fisher Get it! xoxo, Robin!
Michelle Foley Best of luck Janette 
Sarah Follmer

Ann Ganch
Eileen Gelblat
Anne Gendler & David Leib
Ann Gerbin
Goldberg Kohn Foundation
Jennifer Gould  I praise God for the work you do
Rachel Graham  Proud to support such a great organization!
Robyn & Tijuana Gray
Sarah Green
Alison Gronau
Ken Gruberman  Supporting IMPACT Chicago and, by extension, empowering women? Sounds good to me!

Keith H
Meghan Hammond
Bianka Hardin
Amy Harmon
Debb Harp
Margit Henderson
Victoria Herbert Costanzo scholarship fund
Katie Hess
Jean Hoove
Aaron Huey Thanks to AC for being a great friend, trainer and most of all, an example.

Athena J  Took this class years ago; glad to see it is still around. Good luck!
Loretta Jackson
Carol Jennings
Rikki and Mike Jones
Pam Jurkowski in memory of Casimir & Helen Halaj

Margaret Katch
Allison Katz
Antjuan Kee
Cara Kelliher  Best of luck Janette, good on you!
Jennifer Kinkade  ****Yes!
Aine Knightly Best of luck Janette 
Martina Kodrun  This is so important.. thank you and much love from Slovenia.
Christina Kyres

Ashley Lamers
Laura Landsberger
Susan Landwer
Emilee Lales
Nancy Lanoue & Sarah Ludden  It's an honor to support the wonderful work of IMPACT Chicago and your long service to ESD
Preston Lee
Ryan Libel
Ruth Lipschutz
Zach Livingston
Ida Lockett in honor of Martha Thompson
Kimberly Logan Thanks for providing such an amazing service.
Lori Lovell
Andrew Ludington

Joy M
Shelley MacGregor
Rachel Marro
Duberly Mazuelos Thank you!
Jill McCarthy  Good luck, Janette xoxo
Stephanie McGarrity
Anna McKibben
Ellyn McNamara  February 2017 alumni
Robin Mina
Robin Mordfin
Lin Morris
Annkathrin Murray

Suzanne N I tell EVERYONE about IMPACT.  Attending the February Core Program was so inspiring and truly life changing. Rachel and AC were amazing instructors. Thank you for all you do!
Viktoria Navratilova
Priya Nelson
Katherine Nichols  Thank you Martha for all your work
Maya Nikin
Anthony & Shiyu Nitsos

Elaine O'Sullivan  Well done Janette
Tara O'Shea

Lauren Perez
Debbie Petrone
Liz Pfau in honor of Martha Thompson
Rachel Pildis
Alan Porch

Robin R So proud of you for your dedication to this mission, Janette!
Margaret Raether
Debbie Redenbaugh Woohoo!  Great cause!
Dawn Rhodes
Pamela Robert  Keep up the great work!
Noreen Roche  Great organization! Good luck with the fundraiser!
Domingo Rodriguez
Don & Judy Rosedale in honor of Katie Skibbe

Lauren S
Nichole S
Tammie S.
Heidi Sakol  We're so proud of you, Robin!
Dave & Kathie Samuelson
Alexandra Sandin Thank you for all you do
Shelley Schaaf (Herring)  IMPACT changes lives.  Thank you for all that you do.  One day "no" will be enough, until then there is IMPACT.
Shadai Schreiber
Janette Scott
Rob Scott
Val Scott  Hon the ladies
Peggy Shinner
Katie & Michael Skibbe
Ellen Snortland Sending our love (and $) to IMPACT Chicago from the "Beauty Bites Beast" team!
Susan Stall
Linda Stawicki in appreciation of Jill Britton and Henry Borczyk
Patrice Stearley
H Peter Steeves
Brett Stockdill
Fred Stone
Kate Szczudlo Your words, your actions, and YOU are powerful.

Mary Turner
Alisa Tank
Martha Thompson in honor of the Admin, Board, & Instructor Team: Way to go IMPACT Chicago for so many years of high quality, powerful training!
Sandra Torres
Michelle Trudel  Love you guys.
Micah Underwood

Eloise Van Eaton
Carrie Villa
Margaret Vimont
Cathy Voisin

Sandria Washington  Continue the great work!
Kathleen Williamsen
Nat Wilson

If we have inadvertently left your name off this list or made any other errors, please let us know at Thank you!