Monday, August 26, 2019

The Power of Feminist Self-Defense

Photo credit: Defend Yourself

Check out this fabulous article in Ms. Magazine "The Power of Feminist Self-Defense" by Empowerment Self-Defense Leader and Instructor Lauren Taylor. Lauren is the Founder of Defend Yourself in Washington D.C. and the co-founder of Safe Bars which cities across the country are adopting.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Making an IMPACT in Bronzeville

In a city that prides itself on big buildings, flashy lights, and loyal residents in each neighborhood, Chicago is also home to many successful collaborations, networks and partnerships. Join IMPACT Blog Contributor, Maple Joy as she takes you on a journey that IMPACT makes in one local Chicago neighborhood. 

This story was originally published by the South Side Weekly. 

Monday, August 12, 2019

When Unsafe Behavior Happens in a Safe Space

My husband dropped me off at my therapist and went to park the car. I was early so I felt relaxed as I approached the doors leading into the reception area. As I reached toward the door, a man spoke authoritatively: “Don’t touch that door!” and then hit the accessible entrance button. As the door opened I said, “Thank you for opening the door, but you startled me.” He didn’t respond. I walked through the first door toward the second door when he again spoke with authority, “Don’t touch that door!”

This second command triggered flashbacks. When I was 17, a friend of a friend opened a door, cornered me, and then raped me. Now here I was in two places at once. I knew where I was and yet I was frozen. I heard my IMPACT instructors Martha and Mark encouraging me to pay attention and I was aware that my guard was up.

The second door opened as soon as the first door closed and as the man brushed past me he said, “Well, I’m glad that’s finally working again.” He walked into the offices, apparently done testing the doors. I asked the receptionist, “Is that the maintenance man?” She said, “No, he is our CEO.” I asked her to ask him to come out to the reception area.

He came out, moving very close to me, and asked if he could help me. I put up my hands and said, “Take a step back.  You are the CEO for a counseling center. Have you had any training on understanding people who are going through counseling?”

“No, I work on the business side.”

“I’m coming here for therapy and by your behavior you just recreated the situation in which I am receiving counseling for.”

He was embarrassed and reached out his arm to lead me as he said, “Let’s step into my office.”

I put my hands up and said, “Back up. You don’t command someone in a counseling center not to touch a door.” He tried to interrupt me and I wouldn’t let him. I said, “I am telling you this because you are the CEO. You are not listening to me. Stop speaking and hear what I am saying.” When I recognized that he was not listening, I said, “You’ve proven to me that you are not listening to what I’m saying. Go back to your office.”

My head was spinning and I was very angry but I felt Martha on my left and Mark on my right and that they were supporting me while IMPACT was coming out of my mouth. My husband entered the building as I was speaking to the CEO. He told me later that I was very firm, held my ground, and was very articulate. He noticed that I had one hand on my hip and asked me about that. I said, “I was in a position to elbow him if he came after me when I turned to go to my therapist’s office.”  

I was trembling as I went upstairs to my therapist’s office. There was a young man there and I started talking to him. I told him what happened. He was mellow and calm and I noted that. He said his situation happened in an uber car and that he is working on being calm. He said I am in my teens and I’m trying to have a better adult life. I felt so proud of this young man for taking care of himself. I felt so good that I had him to talk to at that moment.  

When I left, the receptionist gave me a hug and said, “You did everything right.”  I took the Core Program in 2003 and then Defense Against Multiple Assailants several years ago. I feel like IMPACT gets stronger for me every year.

Michelle Schmitt