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Thursday, January 13, 2011

IMPACT Chicago: Committed to Ending Violence

What is the IMPACT Chicago mission?
IMPACT Chicago is committed to ending violence and building a non-violent world in which all
people can live safely and with dignity. For more about the IMPACT mission, visit http://
www.impactchicago.org/about.html.

What is IMPACT?
IMPACT is a personal safety, assertiveness and self-defense training program. It is part of
a comprehensive effort to prevent sexual assault and other acts of interpersonal violence and
boundary violations. IMPACT is an international affiliation of independent chapters. Each
IMPACT chapter has its own organizational structure and programmatic focus. For more about
IMPACT International, go to www.impactselfdefense.org

What does self-defense have to do with violence prevention?
Our key values are that both individuals and communities are responsible for safety and violence
prevention. We believe that women and girls are powerful and have the right to control their own bodies and set boundaries. To prevent violence—whether against oneself or others—individuals must have confidence in their awareness, assessment, and verbal skills in order to set and maintain boundaries and to deescalate potentially explosive situations. IMPACT is based on the idea that confidence in one’s own body and physical tools is the foundation for all other self-defense tools.

Why are men involved in a women’s self-defense organization?
We believe that men are and can be allies. We implement our mission by creating female-male
teams led by female instructors. Our female and male instructors demonstrate the possibilities for women and men to work together to end violence.

Is IMPACT just for women and girls who are physically fit and have money?
We work with diverse groups of people--gender, race, class, sexuality, age, and physical ability
and create classroom environments in which people learn individually and collectively. We serve
women and girls (including transgendered people identifying as female) ages 14-70. We do
outreach in various communities, offer financial assistance to individuals, and offer workshops
for organizations serving low-income groups.

Why does IMPACT make it a priority to work with other organizations?
Although we are effective, no one organization can singlehandedly combat sexual assault and
domestic violence, therefore, we work collaboratively with other organizations that directly
address violence, its roots, or consequences. Our vision is that self-defense training is an integral
part of violence prevention and to be most effective must be offered in conjunction with other
support services.

What did IMPACT accomplish in 2010?
IMPACT Chicago served over 1500 people during 2010 through our program offerings
(Core Program, Core Skills, Advanced courses, and workshops) and through social media (e-
newsletter, Facebook, and Twitter). Through our programs, almost 700 participants learned a
range of self-defense skills and through social media another 900 participants had access to self-
defense information that increased their awareness of violence and self-defense strategies. With
over 23,000 visits to our website, IMPACT Chicago also provided people not affiliated with our
programs access to up-to-date self-defense information.

What are IMPACT Chicago goals for 2011?
For 2011, IMPACT Chicago will be mission-driven:
•Increase the number of women and girls in Chicago who have the tools to prevent, minimize, and stop violence.
• Increase the accessibility of our programs with a focus on increasing the numbers of African American women who participate in IMPACT self-defense training.
• Increase professional development and personal growth opportunities for staff, instructors, and volunteers.
• Make explicit a collective philosophy, standards, and system of support and accountability for internal interpersonal communication.

Martha Thompson, Director and Instructor
IMPACT Chicago

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