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Monday, August 28, 2017

Challenging Rape Culture with Empowerment Self-Defense

Clara Porter Prevention Action Change
Despite the deep efforts of government, staff, faculty, and students over the last 8 to 10 years in the U.S., changing rape culture on college campuses remains particularly challenging.
·       While all can agree that “rape is bad,” sexual violence is still normalized on college campuses
·       Many still do not see the common college scenario of someone targeting the drunkest girl at a party, feeding her more alcohol, and taking her away from others and “having sex with her” as rape… Even though that is clearly what it is.
·       Compounding this is the reality of the issue of victim blaming which is still prevalent. All too often the person targeted is seen by their peers as at least partially responsible for the assault – which in turn has a dampening effect on reporting.

Empowerment Self Defense provides the most dramatic reduction in the incidence of rape and attempted rape on college campuses. ESD produced a 50% reduction in attempted and completed sexual assault (Senn 2015), meaning that a large percentage of assaults are not even attempted. 

ESD graduates have the tools to recognize the precursors to sexual violence and prevent it before it begins; training influences how people set boundaries and express what they need, want, and feel in every aspect of their lives – which has an impact on everyone around them. This shift sends ripples into their peer groups, class and dorm-mates and supports other positive work on campus.

We know that efforts to change campus culture need to be multi-pronged including: campus wide messaging and awareness campaigns, education, policy and judicial work, and empowerment self-defense.

Key elements to the success of all these approaches are:
·       Treating men as allies 
The majority of attacks are perpetrated by men but the majority of men will never perpetrate sexual assault. This means that men have an important role to play as peers and bystanders.
·       Meet allies where they are
Maybe the best we can get is that an ally finds a rape joke a little less funny or participates in a TBTN Rally
·       Building awareness of campus supports and develop a shared language
A shared language in the campus community around gender-based violence and consent will help make it more possible to talk about sexual violence on campus and reduce victim-blaming, making it easier for survivors to come forward. 

All of these have a role to play in changing campus climate and impacting campus culture around rape. Of these approaches the research shows that the approach that is most effective at dramatically and directly reducing the actual incidence of rape is ESD.

Clara Porter, MSW
NWMAF and CAE Certified Self-Defense Instructor
Member of Empowerment Self-Defense Alliance and ESD Global
Director, Prevention Action, Change
Portland Maine

Clara's presentation for an ESD Global webinar organized by IMPACT Chicago Instructor Martha Thompson: "Three Reasons for Feminists to Advocate for Empowerment Self-Defense." Clara addressed Reason #3: Challenge rape culture. Thank you to producer Yudit Sidikman. Look for an ESD-related blog the last Monday of the month.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Sexual Harassment and Health

Amy Blackstone, sociologist at University of Maine, reports that 70% of women and 45% of men have experienced sexual harassment at work. In “6 Ways Sexual Harassment Damages Women’s Health,” Rachael Rettner in LiveScience identifies ways that sexual harassment can negatively affect health.

  • Depression
  • Post-Traumatic Stress
  • Elevated Blood Pressure
  • Sleep Problems
  • Suicide
  • Neck Pain
If you are sexually harassed, Donna Ballman advises:
  • Don’t quit
  • Look for the policy
  • Put it in writing
  • It doesn’t have to be sexual
  • You probably can’t sue for a single incident
  • They don’t have to fire the harasser
  • The employer must investigate
  • Keep reporting it
  • You are not alone
  • When it’s time to quit

And to expand the tools you have to address sexual harassment directly, sign up for an IMPACT course. 

To read more:

Monday, August 14, 2017

IMPACT Chicago Beginnings

IMPACT Chicago dates its beginnings from when the first course was offered in August 1987.

Founding the Self-Empowerment Group, August 1986-November 1988
Key people and groups:
Joe Connelly—Founder of Self-Empowerment Group
  • Joe heard about Model Mugging from friends in California and read an article in Black Belt Magazine.
  • Negotiated with Matt Thomas of Model Mugging and the Personal Empowerment Center and met the requirement of having a business plan, identifying two candidates for instructor training (Joe and Lonna Brooks), and having an outreach person (Connie Conroy)
  • Provided funds for the first instructor candidates and for the fledging organization
Business Advisory Group
Norm Axelrod, Dennis Detzel, Elliot Rubenstein, and Dennis Conroy

Board of Directors
President: Lonna Brooks, Vice-President Joe Connelly, Members Dennis Conroy and Laurie Haight

Others: After August 1987: Dianne Costanzo (first certified lead instructor), Theo Pintzuk, and Carole Isaacs; After July 1988: Martha Thompson

Main Activities in Founding
Negotiated with Matt Thomas and Personal Empowerment Center
Sent people for training
Offered first class August 1987 at Hillcrest Community Center, 13 women 
            Offered 4 other courses
            Total of 50 women trained during the founding period

Key Decisions
Established a nonprofit rather than for profit
Didn’t sign a royalty agreement with Matt Thomas

Main issue
How to create an effective, efficient organization with a commitment to offering programs to as many women as possible?

Building the Self-Empowerment Group, November 1988-November 1990
Key People and Groups
Martha Thompson—coordinated the creation of an infrastructure to support programming and coordinated the instructor team
Core Group of Volunteers: Martha (coordinator), Susan Andrews, Dianne Costanzo, Debborah Harp, Anne Mason, Theo Pintzuk, Becky Yane
Long Range Planning Committee: Martha (coordinator), Joe Connelly, Dianne Costanzo, Anne Mason, Theo Pintzuk, Becky Yane
Interim Board (all the people above) plus Linda Jedrzejek

Main Activities
     Building an instructor team—regular meetings, in-service training, ongoing instructor training
     Building a volunteer organization
     Offering a regular and expanded schedule
21 basics courses, over 200 women trained
Review course
Defense against an armed assailant (DAAR) instructor training in Boston (Joe and Martha)
Training rest of instructors in DAAR
Offering DAAR
Boundaries workshop
Key Decisions
Established the organization on principles of the program: empowerment and personal growth
Created a joint committee of volunteers and instructors to lead the organization
Moved to a membership-based Board of Directors
Main Issues
How to build an organization consistent with the principles of the program?
      Related: decision-making, division of labor, accountability, communication, language, and 
      problem-solving           

What kind of leadership model did we want to support?
      Related: recognizing invisible work and the people who do it; preventing burnout; what role will         instructors play; how to transform instructor-student relationship to a peer relationship?

How do we determine/evaluate our success?
Focus on process or product?
Focus on program/women served or organizational (office, # of paid people, career lines)?


Notes from a 1990 Interview of Joe Connelly by Martha Thompson and her organizational notes.

Monday, August 7, 2017

New Core Program Format and a New Location!


“A friend just texted me to let me know of an assault that happened last night. Part of me can’t believe it’s the exact same scenario that we practiced yesterday. Part of me wishes he had chosen me because I have learned the tools to respond. This story really hits home about why I needed to take this training. Words cannot express the gratitude I feel for IMPACT.”



We are continually trying to make our programs more accessible so that any woman who wants effective self-defense tools can gain access. We are expanding our locations and our course formats and continuing to offer a sliding scale and payment plans to make it possible for any woman to take the Core Program, regardless of her financial circumstances.

New format: Four Friday evenings right after work and you'll still have the weekend!
October 27, November 3, 10, & 17

New Location: North Center
September 9, 10, 16 & 17, 2017
North Park Elementary
2017 W. Montrose
Chicago, IL 60618

Sliding Scale and Payment Plans
We have a sliding scale and payment plan options to ensure that our programs are accessible regardless of your finances.

If you have any questions or concerns, please  contact
Tara, Registration Coordinator
info@impactchicago.org
312.971.7119