Ever since I worked at a local domestic violence and sexual assault center, I realized how much tragedy and pain can be stopped with simple prevention. Every day I saw women, children and a few men who came in who were bruised, terrified and unsure of what to do. Some returned to abuse, some ran for their lives, but they all had scars. Seeing this much tragedy was depressing, but eventually it was a wake up call. It allowed me to start a new career that would lead me to help girls and women stop being victims. After creating a book and curriculum to empower young women in 2011, I decided to expand on empowering others by teaching self defense.
It is scary to fight back if you don’t know how. I know this first hand. I spent the first 17 years of my life letting people beat me up, shove me into walls, and emotionally abuse me. I wanted to stop them, but I was too scared and worried that if I did fight back they would be able to hurt me worse. When I finally stood up to a bully in my junior year of High School and he backed down, I realized that I was strong enough to not take abuse any longer. There have been other assaults along the way, but luckily in college I took a self defense class and have used the moves I learned there to fight off those attacks. Just having the knowledge that I can self defend has helped me overcome so many problems. It is amazing to me, how this formerly shy and scared little girl has changed into a strong woman. I finally have confidence. It didn’t happen over night. Knowing self defense is not a magical fix, but it helps a lot.
Physical self defense is only one part of what I want to do. I am working on an emotional self defense curriculum as well. I will teach both together in one class. Knowing how to get out of a hold is one thing, but keeping yourself from ever being in that hold is even better. A majority of violence against women is from people we already know. Boyfriends, fathers, uncles, bosses, co-workers, so called “friends”, and neighbors are all people that have hurt, raped or killed a woman they were/are close to. There are very often signs that tell if someone is going to abuse you, but most women ignore the warning signs or are taught to take it. Learn more about the warning signs in my “Stand Up, Speak Up” article. Violence against women affects men as well. Our sons see us take abuse and continue the cycle because that is all they know while also losing respect for us. Our partners have no hope of a healthy loving relationship if we cannot trust them. When every male becomes a target of fear, those that would never be abusive become the enemy.
Just Yell Fire,JYF, is an organization that trains self defense instructors and I will take the training in a few weeks. Why yell fire? Because that word is more likely to get attention than “rape” or “help”. Isn’t that sad? JYF was started by a teenage girl named Dallas Jessup. She now teaches this program, with the assistance of other trainers, all over the world. Here are some videos about Dallas and Just Yell Fire: Teen Girls Target Self Defense Classes, Do Something – Dallas, Just Yell Fire in India. You can also visit the Just Yell Fire website to find a class near you and watch free instructional videos.
Pass this on and encourage other people to fight back instead of living as a victim.
**You can share the self defense moves seen above with the girls and women in your life on a wallet sized card I created. Purchase the card on my website!