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!