IMPACT Chicago instructor Rob Babcock reflects on the importance of developing verbal boundary setting skills for safety and the importance of their practice in the IMPACT Chicago Core Program. Enhance your boundary setting skills in the November8, 9, & 10 Core Program at the Knapp Center, 3145 W. Pratt Blvd, Chicago IL. IMPACTchicago.org or firstname.lastname@example.org
Out of context, boundary setting can sound like a mundane task for two low level bureaucrats to figure out exactly where a town line begins and ends. But in the IMPACT Chicago Core Program, it is an invaluable part of our curriculum. So many women in our society are not socialized to set clear boundaries; we often hear from students that it is easier to hit someone than to set a verbal boundary with an aggressor.
But here is a kicker (no pun intended): verbal boundary setting skills will get tested far more than any physical skills. Systematically robbing women and girls of their voice is often a first step for a predator to establish control. I think one of the primary reasons for this is that male predators are often portrayed as invincible so that they are able to get away with intimidating and controlling a woman through the use of their voice or other non-violent actions (e.g. refusing to cooperate, blocking an entrance/exit).
When women have the opportunity to learn and practice effective boundary setting with an aggressor, for instance, ”No, I am going out tonight with my friends,” or “Go away and leave me alone,” or “I am going to take the job that works best for me,” he is often rendered powerless. Not only they, but the women they intimidate realize that these aggressors get away with their control because they are propped up by unrealistic images of men and masculinity.
One of the best parts of boundary setting? When it is done publically, and people notice. When others see a woman effectively setting clear boundaries, they are that much stronger and emboldened to stand up for themselves.
Rob Babcock, IMPACT Chicago Instructor
For an example of verbal boundary setting, look for the November 25 blog, titled: “I Projected My Voice the Moment I Needed it"