Tuesday, December 28, 2010

It's All About Control. But You Already Knew That.

All women may be at risk of sexual assault, but risk is not evenly distributed across the ages. Younger women are at higher risk, with those ages 17-24 and in college at the peak of peril.

Among the several reasons that younger women are at higher risk is that they are more often more trusting, and more easily misled. So when I read this article on why some* men in their late 30s/40s say they prefer to date younger women, the similarities were quite impressive. Each respondent phrased their answers more agreeably, but each one came down to "because younger women are easier to control."

Some select quotes, and my interpretations:
They don’t (yet) have a laundry list of what they want in a partner, in a career, in a life. . . . I think that kind of attitude appeals to thirty-something guys who want a relationship to really be on our terms.
Interpretation: Because she doesn't have strong opinions of her own (or I can safely ignore them and she'll go along), I get to call the shots.
They tend to be untainted by experiences that have hardened older women. Like when a woman’s been lied to a lot after years of dating, she always thinks you’re lying to her. And that’s a turnoff. Younger women are less cynical and that’s a big draw.
Interpretation: I can get away with lying to her.
She’s interested in the here and now, in going out, in having fun. It may sound like a cliché, but it’s reality. I’m not anti-marriage, I’m just anti-agenda.
Interpretation: I'm not really anti-agenda, I'm for my own agenda and only my agenda.
You can play ‘cruise director’—show her all your secret favorite places that she probably hasn’t experienced yet. They’re easier to impress and very willing to be escorted around.
Interpretation: I get to call the shots.

In short, it's all about the power.

And that is the connection with sexual assault. I'm not asserting that the guys interviewed for this article are rapists, not at all. What I am saying is that there's a LOT of overlap in what these middle-aged men were looking for and what most serial acquaintance rapists are looking for. So if you are a young female, and find that you're attracting attention from somewhat older men who are happy to take control (however they care to phrase it), please give some thought to your own desires and plans (your "agenda"), and how you express them.

Nobody will give you power and control over your own life. You just have to take it.

These critical life lessons are covered in Self Defense 101 as well as the intensive Self Defense Weekend Workshop.

*This definitely un-scientific survey reflects the views of only a small group of men specifically selected to make a point (and a pseudo-news story), and is not intended to make global assertions about Mankind.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

On the Airwaves

In light of recent attacks on women joggers, I was interviewed on KOMO Radio live! We aired Tuesday, December 21 at 12:46 in the afternoon, and you can listen to it here:  http://www.StrategicLiving.org/Joanne_Factor_on_KOMO.mp3.

One point of contention is whether women should be running in the early morning hours or in the evening, when it's dark outside. I say yes, many runners enjoy the calm and solitude at those times, or that's really the best time for them. I also say recognize that you are at higher risk for assault, so be prepared and aware. The bare minimum self defense skills you should know are (1) which are higher-value targets on an assailant's body (eyes, throat, groin, knees), and (2) use your voice LOUD (give direct commands, such as STOP! or LET GO! or BACK OFF!).

To date, those women who have been assaulted succeeded in fending off the attacker. They fought back and used their voices. And prevailed. You can too. The next round of self defense classes will begin in about a month, see the schedule at http://www.StrategicLiving.org/classes.htm. And have a safe holiday shopping/jogging season!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

What's Your Story? Please Share!

Do you have a story to share? I've noticed some outstanding self-defense stories in the news lately.

One was this 12 year old girl who heard a noise downstairs, went to investigate, and came face to face with a hooded intruder. Not only does she kick him in the crotch, after he runs she draws a sketch to make it easier for police to find the guy.  Read the story at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1299920/Home-girl-foils-burglar-groin-kick-draws-police-picture-him.html.

Then there's the 13 year old girl who fought off a guy with a knife! Read her story at http://www.thegrio.com/news/13-year-old-girl-fights-off-knife-wielding-attacker.php.

And a third happened here in Seattle, when a woman jogging in Seward Park fought off an assailant. Read her story at http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2013154472_attack14m.html. This woman was reported to have said to her assailant, "not me, not here, not now." Many students in my recent classes read about this attack, and took this woman's mantra to heart.

"Not me, not here, not now." The power of the story.

Over twenty years ago women were dismayed to see virtually no self-defense success stories in the news. They reached out to the community -- posters, ad in papers and on campuses, word of mouth -- and were rewarded with an overwhelming abundance of first-hand reports of successful self-defense.  The results became Her Wits About Her: Self-Defense Success Stories by Women, edited by Denise Caignon and Gail Groves, and is a classic in self-defense studies.

An article in the current issue of the academic journal Violence Against Women explores the power of the successful self-defense story. Author Jill Cermele notes these critical benefits of telling women's self-defense stories.
  • First, they are real examples of real women successfully defending themselves. When more of us know what other women have done successfully, we are more inclined to use resistance.
  • Second, by telling successful resistance as an event that happened, rather than a non-event, we recognize that women have positively acted and DONE SOMETHING POWERFUL.
[from Telling Our Stories: The Importance of Women's Narratives of Resistance, by Jill Cermele.  Violence Against Women, 16(10): 1162-72, 2010, http://vaw.sagepub.com/content/16/10/1162.

Please share! I've begun posting stories I find, or that others have found, on my Facebook page. If you come across any stories, please email them to me or post to my FB page. I can assure you that other self-defense instructors will re-share them. The more the word gets out, the safer we and our communities will become.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Self Defense Essentials I Learned from My Cat, Lesson #1

"Awareness" is a key component of self-defense, yet as a practice it is ill-defined. For many of my students, the line between color-coded anxiety and recognition of real risks is blurry at best. This is exacerbated by our media environment (where violence sells anxiety, and anxiety sells airtime, and airtime sells . . . ).

Examples from my feline friends proffer useful guidance.

Know where you are vulnerable.

For example, I often shlep lots of stuff to my car. Hey, I teach self-defense classes, so I'm hauling kicking shields and handouts and mats and other bulky, unwieldy stuff. This is a vulnerable point for 2 reasons. One, my arms are usually full. Second, and more importantly, my mind is already occupied with how the heck I'm going to fit all this junk in my car (I can always drop stuff to free my hands, but it is takes more effort to drop stuff out of my head when surprised).

Sokol, ever watchful, at repose.
Enter Sokol, my cat.  

Sokol (also known as "stealth kitty") was brought into our home as a 14 month old feral. While she's adapted well to life as an indoor kitty, even after 7 years she hasn't lost her feral edge. She does not like being picked up or even petted (until she solicits attention). Lap cat? No way. Ever at rest, she's also alert to any and all new sounds. If I enter the room, she'll keep an eye on me until she's convinced that I'm not about to try to (gasp!) pick her up. If I'm in the room she wants to nap in, she'll keep an eye on me as she settles in.

The key here is awareness at key points. Going back to loading my car, I know I have to leave Point A (my house, or the building where the class is held) and approach my car. I make it a point as I am leaving the building to scan the area. I'm looking for anyone who is paying attention to my activities. I get to my car. Before I unlock my car and open the trunk, I again scan the area.  And if it takes more than a second or so to rearrange my baggage, I pause to scan again. And, if necessary, again.

I have to say I've yet to encounter a scary person. However, I have encountered the first spring blooms on the wild roses, the emergence of the fall crocuses, and a hummingbird almost within arms' reach. These little happenstances round out life, and are constant reminders on why you want to stay safe. To be able to enjoy daily special moments, sans the trauma of a distressing surprise.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Are You Scared Yet?

Today's beautiful sunny Seattle afternoon will, in a few short hours, give rise to little goblins and ghouls and ghosts shrieking and wailing. "Trick or treat!" is tonight's theme, but alas it will extend a few more days past tonight. Indeed, bigger goblins and ghouls and ghosts have been shrieking and wailing for months, hoping to scare you into voting their way just 2 days post-Halloween.

Even though after Tuesday's elections all the campaigning ads will slither back into the crypts, their tricks will still linger in the air like the stench of sewage. While we all claim we hate those attack ad, fact is they work. Seems like no matter who you vote for, we are (again) facing the End of Civilization. If you want to check out how much truth, or lack thereof, is behind your favorite political messages, visit PolitiFact.com.

A few weeks ago I was chatting with a marketing manager for one of America's largest retailers. Prior to that he'd been in marketing for one of the major TV broadcasting companies. He left because he was fed up with "the scare." As much as possible, news just had to be presented with maximal scare value. Even the weather had to be scary.

A critical aspect of "the scare" is to present the event, but give you absolutely NO clue how to accurately assess or mitigate any risk you could face (other than stay at home and keep glued to your TV). (Strategic Living's Self-Defense 101 and Weekend Workshop classes cover these bases for your personal safety concerns.) One antidote: stop watching TV news. You'll not only feel safer over time, you'll be better at assessing real risks and engage in more enjoyable and productive activities. To help you, artist John Boak created these little posters that you can tape to your TV screen. Not only do they remind you to keep the TV off, they'll nicely obscure your view.

Get your information from real life, not from entertainment.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sometimes Even the Experts Mess Up

This security expert did, and boy it was a whopper. 
Security expert Michiel Oakes admitted killing Mark Stover. Oakes said that Stover was stalking his girlfriend and she was very afraid of Stover. This girlfriend, Linda Opdycke, was Stover's ex-wife.  Oakes said he did it in self-defense. The jury wasn't convinced, and convicted Oakes of first-degree premeditated murder.
For more backstory see this article on NPR, and this from The Seattle Times.
For those of you who may be stalked in the future, here are 3 mistakes to avoid:
No Documentation. According to this story, Oakes never reported any threats by Stover to the police. If you believe you're being stalked, get an evidence trail going, including what you've reported to police. A history that others can refer to really helps your believability. And maybe you can get some help!
Going to Stalker's Home, Armed. If you go to your stalker's house wearing a bulletproof vest and carrying weapons, it will be hard to convince anyone except your mother that you acted in self-defense. (In fact, if I did that, my mother would probably be the first to turn me in for stupidity.)
And Then Hiding the Body. Nothing screams guilt like a cover-up (whether or not that's accurate). Really, this is the stuff of bad TV and movies. 
Stalking is serious.  I've had students in my self-defense classes who've been stalked, and even years later many have never regained their full peace of mind. If you are being stalked, or someone you know is being stalked, do report and report and report, keep documents and a diary and any phone messages, and let everyone in your circle know. Before you end up, losing, on center stage in a bad drama.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Beware Spectres Bearing Olive Branches

Today's news resurrects a two decade-old sore, and NPR's Nina Totenberg called this incident "stranger than fiction."

Virginia Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, confirmed that yes she did leave a message on Anita Hill's answering machine. In that message she asked Ms. Hill to consider offering an apology and full explanation for her testimony during Justice Thomas' confirmation hearings in 1991. In a subsequent statement to CNN, Ms. Thomas purported that her message was intended to offer an olive branch, and no offense was intended.

Ms. Hill has reported that no apology will be offered any time soon.

Read this CNN article for the backstory and current update.

When you offer an "olive branch," the implication is that you want to make peace. If you want to make peace, there's been some conflict that you wish to resolve or at least mitigate. We can call that process "de-escalation."
Now there are several general principles of de-escalation. One is that you do not insist that the other person is wrong. That would not serve to mitigate conflict, would it? In fact, it usually pisses the other party off. So much for striving for peace.
So when Ms. Thomas then asked for an apology, she was not really offering an olive branch. Granted, and I'm going out on a limb here, it looks like Ms. Thomas believes that an injustice was done. Maybe she is looking for redress. Frankly, history may remember Justice Thomas more for Anita Hill's testimony than for any scholarly and enlightened opinions he's written from the bench, and maybe she's feeling aggrieved about it. Maybe she's fishing for political points (Ms. Thomas is the founder of Liberty Central, a conservative nonprofit lobbying group linked with the tea party).
Whatever her reasoning, she should at least honestly name what she's doing as confrontation. (In my 5 week self-defense course we go over these, and other verbal skills, in lesson 4.) Even though it's almost Halloween, this is not the time (and it is NEVER the time) to disguise a a wolf in an olive branch's clothing.

Monday, October 18, 2010

"Mixed Signals" is the new "Yes"?

Heck, this article is so short I might as well insert the whole thing:
A 24-year-old man arrested Oct.11 for kidnapping, attempted rape and gross sexual imposition said the woman he was visiting had actually been giving him “mixed signals,” according to an Elyria police report.

Melvin Jackson III, of Elyria, got naked and tried to have sex with the woman at her Washington Avenue home, the report said. The woman said she invited Jackson over to watch movies, but he began to touch her inappropriately, got undressed and refused to let her leave the room. The woman was able to run to a neighbor’s home and call police.
Good self defense on her part! She escaped and called the police.

Now, go to the story in The Morning Journal of 10/15/10 to look over the readers' comments. As of the evening of Saturday, Oct 16, they are short and to the point: that poor guy was set up or played. Like, "everyone knows" if a woman invites a guy over to "watch movies," she's "asking for it," right?

For all you women reading this, who cherish your freedom of association guaranteed by our great nation's Constitution (including the right to watch a movie with whoever you'd like without that being mistaken for a promise of sex), you are almost certainly sending "mixed signals" to someone. Yes, there are still those who assume that being alone and together means you want "it" (and they're not always men).

So here are just a couple of red flags that you should be looking out for. While it's not an all-inclusive list, these are 3 biggies:
  • He makes snide or even outright nasty comments about women in general, or about ex-girlfriends,
  • He seems to want to get intimate very quickly, and gets upset if you're not comfortable with his timetable, and
  • He ignores you when you have objections or otherwise say no to his plans.
For those of you in the Seattle area, this is covered in Session 4 of Self-Defense 101.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Goes to Show You Never Can Tell

When I arrived at Bellevue College last Saturday, I felt something amiss. The staff, usually calm and friendly, seemed just a tad frazzled as we exchanged greetings.  I went to set up my room for the five-week self-defense course I'd be teaching that afternoon, then returned to the front for my roster.  As  passed the front desk manager, he said, "We really could've used you this morning! We had one woman stab another in class.  It was an anger management class."

That's generally not what I'd expect in a continuing education facility known more for high tech than high crime. Goes to show you never can tell for sure what can happen even in safe spaces.  And why the first rule of self defense is to be aware and open to possibilities.

Read the story here.

Friday, October 15, 2010

"You've got to fight for your life, for sure."

Earlier this week, a woman was attacked while jogging in Seward Park. When she saw a man on an isolated trail and her intuition told her to get out of there, she turned.  However, he ran after her, caught up to her, and attacked. The assailant punched her in the face, and she fought back while screaming. Her voice attracted the attention of another man who rushed over, and the assailant fled.

"[S]he encourage[s] other women who find themselves in a similar situation to trust their intuition and do whatever it takes to fend off an attacker. "You've got to fight for your life, for sure," said the woman."

And she's sure the police will find the culprit.  "In the meantime, she said she and her neighbors are organizing a self-defense class for women in Seward Park, which they hope to offer in coming weeks."

Way to go for proactive empowerment!

Read the story in The Seattle Times.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Follow the Money, Even Where There is "None"

Listening to the radio, hearing yet another story from a war-ravaged country. Another woman, widowed with small children, has turned to prostitution to feed her family.

In all these stories about the costs of war, there's one question that's ignored.

Why is there always money for prostitution, but rarely for food?

If you want to see who holds more power, follow the money. Rather, follow who chooses how to spend their money.

Monday, October 04, 2010

And Now, A Word from My Mother

I have to admit, I don't always agree with my mother. OK, that's an understatement, we often butt heads.  But, when she does make a good point, it is stellar. And one such stellar bit of advice came many, many years ago. I don't recall the context at all, she was discussing finances (which she rarely did).  Her piece of advice is to all young women (and if you've taken one of my self-defense classes, you have heard me say this) is very simple:

Whatever life brings, whatever relationship, marriage, partnership, etc., you  find yourself in, make sure you ALWAYS have a bank account in YOUR NAME ONLY.  And make sure that it contains enough money for you to rent an apartment and cover living expenses for at least a few months.

Nobody plans on entering into an abusive relationship. However, life does not always go according to plan, and for that you have to plan. Are you with me?

If you are trying to leave an abusive partner, you'll need cash.
One common characteristic of abusers is control of household finances. You will need your own bank account, in your name only, so that the abuser cannot withdraw all funds to leave you high and dry. And it is a LOT easier if you have your cache before committing to any relationship, since once you're in you don't know how easily you'll be able to accumulate necessary funds.

I've taught self-defense classes in homeless day shelters and in transitional housing facilities. I've met women who lost everything -- and became homeless -- because they had to leave their partner but had no funds. There are many, many more women who do not leave their abusers because they are even more afraid of living on the streets.

So take charge of your own destiny, and have some cash cached away. Because, without cold cash, it really sucks to find yourself between an abuser and the cold streets.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Look Out, Ringo Starr, Here I Come!

I was not a musician. I can't carry a tune in a paper bag. I've never learned to read music or play an instrument. I've only enjoyed music as a fan and listener. A consumer.

I donated self-defense classes to a girls' summer camp this July. This was not just any summer camp, this was Girls Rock! Camp, where in one week girls ages 8 - 16 learn to play an instrument, form a band, write a song, practice, and play to a raving audience. They also learn about the herstory of women in rock music, media and female body image, electronic music, DJing, zine making, song-writing . . . and self-defense.

AWESOME!!! I was thrilled to work with these girls, as well as also a tad envious. Where was this camp when I was that age?

Then one of the organizers just happened to mention Ladies Rock! Camp. My ears perked up. "Oh, there's another event?" Yes, a long weekend where women (ages 19+) learn to play an instrument, form a band, write a song, practice, and play to a raving audience. No experience necessary.

I signed up. I didn't think twice, and that was alright.

I picked drums as my instrument. As a self-defense and karate instructor I already know how to hit things, so I figured this would be a natural extension. Playing drums was still a stretch and a challenge, and it was one of the most outstanding weekends I've ever had. I learned a lot, and found there's common points between learning to play rock music and self-defense.

First, both are DIY. Do It Yourself, really. Sure if you want adulation and admiration from throngs of adoring fans you'll have to practice a lot and get super-good, and that's just the beginning. But if you just want to hang and jam with your friends, you don't need the chops of Ringo Starr. Similarly, for self-defense you don't need the chops of Jackie Chan, you just need awareness, some evasion strategies, and a few basic moves which will get you out of 99.5% of the badness you're likely to encounter.

Second, both happen in the moment. Practiced musicians often create impromptu lyrics and melody lines. They improvise. And if you should find yourself in a threatening situation you too will have to improvise. You have to be continuously paying attention and adjusting your tactics. And it will help that you've taken a self-defense class and have the basic skills.

Third, you get out what you put in. That means participation, really getting into it. Few things fall flatter than music played without feeling. In learning self-defense, you train like it's for real. So, if it ever does get real, you are ready.

Finally -- and if you've been reading this e-newsletter for a while, you could probably guess this one -- both are LOUD. Rock musicians, even "soft" ones, WANT to be heard! They DO have something to say! And guess what: so do you!

Okay, so maybe Ringo Starr needn't worry about me. And maybe you don't want to put in the time and work to learn how to become a ninja assassin. But, with a little help from your friends, you too can discover your inner rock star self-defender.


Fall self-defense classes are now open for enrollment.  Visit http://www.StrategicLiving.org/schedule101.htm for more information and registration on the 5 week Self-Defense 101 courses, http://www.StrategicLiving.org/schedule3hour.htm for one-day seminars, or http://www.StrategicLiving.org/scheduleWW.htm for the November weekend workshop.


Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Facebook Puts the "Social" Back in Social Networking

Whether or not you use Facebook, you've likely heard of the recent ferment over their privacy policy.  One source of confusion is their "policy" shifts more often than a BP executive's assessment of the Gulf oil spill damage; another is finding all those little control panels that govern who gets to see all those disparate bits of your information.

ReclaimPrivacy.org has developed a tool that scans your Facebook profile and brings up a clickable list of what you can change to increase privacy.  Now that doesn't mean you HAVE to change those settings -- you may want to be found by friends of friends, or everyone, or your city's network (or not, the choice is yours).  You may want to be tagged in any and all photos (or not).  This tool makes choosing your Facebook's settings a lot easier.

Then there's the other option.  Do not include information you do not want public.  When Facebook asked for my date of birth, I put in an "alternative" date which of course is not made visible to anyone, even "friends" (I feel that my birthday is between me, my real-life family and friends, and the IRS).  This is important because even if you elect to keep certain info private, there are Facebook applications that perhaps your friends use that may "leak" some of your info.

[And of course the third option.  Maybe Facebook isn't your cup of tea.  Some of my (real-life) friends have chosen to not join Facebook because of the nature of their work, or because they've decided it is a substantial oversharing of information.]

The internet is not a private space, regardless of "privacy" policies.  Facebook is a free service because of the marketing potential and advertising revenue. Bits of your data will be merged with data from millions of other users to target marketing. "Opt out" rather than "opt in" policies will be a tug-of-war for a while. Before signing up for any social networking site, spend some time contemplating what "privacy" means to you and on a social-commercial site such as Facebook.

A key tenet of self-defense is that YOU choose what information to share with whom. Nobody will simply hand you that right on the internet.  You will increasingly need to take charge of what you provide to others, you will need to define and assert your own boundaries, and to be effective you need to understand today's ever-changing webscape.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Telling on Tattling

A recent article in the online magazine Modern Mom has this catchy headline:  You Should Let Your Child Tattle -- Here's Why!  Yes, another one of those headlines looking to grab your attention by asserting something obviously counter-intuitive (or just plain dumb), and then informing you of what you already (or should have already) know(n):  that you as parent have to help your child learn the difference between telling (to keep themselves or others safe) and tattling (trying to get someone else in trouble).

Now this is a really important life lesson (one which too many adults still don't have down).  Adults who are looking to sexually assault or abuse children depend on kids not understanding the distinction.  They will often tell their victims not to say anything or they'll be tattle-tales (and that's bad).  Or if the child "tattles" they won't be believed (because they're only a kid and kids love to tattle, right?).

At it's February fundraising breakfast, King County Sexual Assault Resource Center's Executive Director Mary Ellen Stone said that assault against children has decreased 38% in the last 13 years.  She attributed this to increased awareness of the issue, decreased tolerance for child sexual abuse, and increased support for the victims.  Parents are now paying greater attention to adult behavior towards their children, as well as more closely listening to what kids say about adult behavior. Still, about 29% of sexual assault happens to children under the age of 12.

All kids need guidance in managing their emotions, in figuring out if they're looking for help or looking to get someone in trouble.  They need skills in solving their own problems, and also knowing when to seek outside help.   Violence needs silence -- parents need to be willing and themselves have the skills to coach their kids through the often-confusing landscape of telling.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Why Isn't Self Defense Taught in Our Schools?

Author Ellen Snortland has often been in the media advocating for making personal safety and self defense a required class in high schools. Her article One Too Many in the Pasadena Weekly as well as her spotlight on National Public Radio points to the murder of Chelsea King as yet another reason too many to teach kids how to defend themselves.

Yet there's a great reluctance to widely add self defense skills to young people's toolboxes. More emphasis and resources are given over to services once they've become victims, or to enacting laws intended to prosecute and punish offenders (but which sometimes result in unwanted consequences, but that's another post). Both these approaches are critical, but that third leg of prevention is keeping real safety from becoming a reality.

We are the only creatures on this planet that actively strives to dis-empower large segments of our population by not only not teaching basic personal safety, but often by lying about its efficacy.  Once upon a time (about 3 decades ago) conventional wisdom held that women should not fight back lest they get hurt worse.  Studies now show that's not true at all, and in fact over 75% of women who even begin to resist assault chase off their assailant.

Unfortunately, most women don't know that.  And that is truly a crime.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Attention all women looking for a self defense class

Maybe you saw a demo at a health fair or shopping mall about women's self-defense,  and you're considering taking a class.  The group putting on the demo seemed friendly and knowledgeable, and now you're wondering if their program would be a good fit for your needs.  Here's two important keys to watch for.

In many self-defense demos, you see a male instructor as "attacker" and a female instructor as "defender."  So far, so good.  Now, who does the talking?  Is it a male instructor, or female?  Yes, this IS important!  If you are teaching women to strongly face a real-life assailant, she should be the one talking to the women in the audience.

Second, watch carefully for either (or both) of these two things to happen:  the female defender does her moves but in a tentative manner and a male instructor describes her as being "nice" to her attacker," and over the next 10 minutes the demo actors get shifted so a male instructor has taken over showing the moves.

Is this empowering for women?  (Hint: the answer is no.)

I've seen this scenario happen several times now.  I have no doubt that these are very nice and well-meaning people, and their techniques can be effective.  However, until the women show a real lead in their demos I have a hard time believing that the women they are trying to recruit as students will get two of the most essential self-defense lessons.  Which are, of course, to take charge and use your voice.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Researchers Looking for Rape Study Respondents

Dr. Patricia Rozee, a well known rape researcher, and Michelle McKenzie are conducting a research project on examining characteristics of rape resistance strategies in completed and attempted rapes. They hope to document the most effective strategies in preventing future rapes. This research is through California State University, Long Beach. They are looking for women, 18 years old or older, who have experienced rape or attempted rape, to take an anonymous, online survey that takes approximately 15 minutes to complete.


Wednesday, March 03, 2010

How Can We Eradicate Rape When It's Not Really Treated as a Crime

Variation of this article are bubbling up here and there.  I'd bet that this story from Boston can be written about almost any college campus in any city, just change the names and titles a bit.

No Crackdown on Assaults at Colleges:  http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/02/25/no_crackdown_on_assaults_at_colleges/?page=full

Or how about this, from National Public Radio?

Campus Rape Victims: A Struggle For Justice:

It's hard enough to get women to report any sexual assault, and it is even more frustrating (and, dare I say, abusive?) when nothing happens.  When the perpetrator gets no more than a slap on the wrist, and the survivor gets the nightmares and therapy.

When it's estimated that 1 of 5 college girls will experience attempted or actual sexual assault during their time in school, it's long past time that schools stopped being complicit in "boys will be boys."

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

But What if He's REALLY TALL?

That's one of the most common question I get in my self-defense classes.  And I think women are very comfortable asking me, as I'm usually the shortest in the room.

Well, here's a story of a 74 year old woman fighting off a young, strapping six footer. 


As I've mentioned (over and over), persistence is one of the keys in effective defense.  And Grandma sure had that!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sexual Assault Prevention Tips GUARANTEED to Work!

Not much is life is covered by a real guarantee, especially when it involves violence and assault.  These tips, however, if diligently followed by would-be perpetrators, WILL WORK!

I've read variations of this now on several sites, including Girl with Pen (who attributes authorship to Colleen Jameson) and The Huffington Post's Ellen Snortland (whose book Beauty Bites Beast is THE "why-to"book of self-defense). 

Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work!

1. Don’t put drugs in people’s drinks in order to control their behavior.

2. When you see someone walking by themselves, leave them alone!

3. If you pull over to help someone with car problems, remember not to assault them!

4. NEVER open an unlocked door or window uninvited.

5. If you are in an elevator and someone else gets in, DON’T ASSAULT THEM!

6. Remember, people go to laundry to do their laundry, do not attempt to molest someone who is alone in a laundry room.

7. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If you are not able to stop yourself from assaulting people, ask a friend to stay with you while you are in public.

8. Always be honest with people! Don’t pretend to be a caring friend in order to gain the trust of someone you want to assault. Consider telling them you plan to assault them. If you don’t communicate your intentions, the other person may take that as a sign that you do not plan to rape them.

9. Don’t forget: you can’t have sex with someone unless they are awake!

10. Carry a whistle! If you are worried you might assault someone “on accident” you can hand it to the person you are with, so they can blow it if you do.

And, ALWAYS REMEMBER: if you didn’t ask permission and then respect the answer the first time, you are commiting a crime- no matter how “into it” others appear to be.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Living in Liberation Book Release Party

On January 23, Feral Book Press will be hosting a book release party at the Victory Lounge (433 Eastlake Ave E).  Living in Liberation is Cristien Storm's first book, the culmination of over 20 years working with self-defense, self-care, social change and healing.  Storm was one of Home Alive's founders, and helped build it from a small band of musicians and artists to a highly active safety and social justice organization whose influence was felt across the Seattle area.  Home Alive offered a wide array of self-defense programs, from short presentations to large groups to workshops and multi-session courses open to the public.

For more information visit http://www.seattleactivism.org/events/event6853.htm.  Hope to see you there!