Self Defense

Self-Defense: The Mistakes Of Teaching Violence “Prevention” to Women and Girls

textgram_1449536544“Prevention” is a word thrown around a lot in regards to self-defense. I really don’t like using it when I teach a class. Most prevention advice delves into ridiculous victim blame and only encourages females to feel fear. The advice goes something like this:

Don’t flirt too much, don’t wear revealing clothing at a party and don’t go out at night alone or if you do, don’t drink, but if you are drinking watch you drink closely, don’t accept drinks from anybody and never leave your girlfriends and never go home with anybody because if you do, it’s your fault for leading them on.

The real prevention we need to teach is not about being afraid of doing what you want and rarely is it about changing your own habits; it’s about awareness.

Women are more likely to be assaulted by someone they know, a romantic partner, a stalker or coworker. So how can we create safer spaces? By being aware of those around us whether they are close friends or casual acquaintances, both male and female.

  • Pay close attention to how friends treat you AND others.
  • Are they condescending toward you?
  • Do they ask or bully you to do things you don’t want?
  • Do YOU force yourself to change around them so they like you?
  • Do they mock feminism or often joke about women being the weaker sex?
  • Do they insist that rape culture doesn’t exist or that women really should “be careful what they wear or drink”?
  • Do they refuse to acknowledge media objectification of women and find these images “good” entertainment?

Being aware allows us to learn to trust our intuition and as we do so allow our true self to shine through. Because once we are aware of what we’ve learned to ignore and how often we blame ourselves we become stronger.

Sexism fuels violence against women. It gets worse every time we pretend hurtful words are okay and make excuses like, “Boys will be boys”. Our culture enforces many ideas about women being less than men. In this sphere is the idea that we are at fault for being assaulted or raped. It’s pushed forward by those with agendas, fundamental religious dogma and advertising agencies. So much of prevention is dependent upon who surrounds us. It’s what we put up with, what we expect from others and whether or not we are willing to speak up, say no and not put up with ideas and stereotypes that feed this harmful vision of women as less than men.

The other side of prevention, and the most powerful of course will be teaching men and boys how to become aware of how they treat women and girls. No matter how much women work to create change it’s critical that our males change evolve as well.


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When teaching self-defense I always stress the importance of striking vital points! If you gouge the eyes they can’t see where you move next, if you dig your nails into their ears and yank down they suffer tremendous pain, if you punch the solar plexus their breath is taken away and if you “pick the peaches” (grab, twist and pull on the testes) you can bring them to their knees giving you a chance to run for help and call the police. Read more Self-Defense Articles on this blog.

Be aware, don’t live in fear.



I’m a certified self-defense instructor and encourage all women and girls to know their lives are important. You can learn more on the SELF-DEFENSE page. Please share this with your friends. Together we can create safer spaces.

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Empowering Discussions

Calling All Women and Men, Boys and Girls: Spark the Conversation to End Street Harassment at Hollaback Revolution 2015!

It’s time for the 2015 Hollaback REVolution!

I support this organization because ever since I was a young girl, walking down the street was a source of fear and uncertainty for me. I was harassed by old men, young men and boys because they felt a right to call me names and suggest inappropriate sexual acts. Together we can change the idea that street harassment is “just a part of life” and something to be expected

Just last week I was standing at the bus and this older man kept trying to give me his number. I told him no, he followed me to the other side of the stop and asked again. I said no much firmer this time, but he actually had the nerve to put his hand on my back. I knocked it off and told him that is NOT OKAY. Because he was so much older I wasn’t worried about an assault, but it sure was annoying. Quite possibly he does this to young girls or much smaller women who couldn’t fight him off. It’s just ridiculous that I can’t walk down the street without harassment!

According to the Washington Post, 2014 was the year the conversation around street harassment hit a tipping point. On March 5th, let’s take the conversation to the next level at this year’s HOLLA::Rev. Come join leading thinkers and activists in the field to expand the definitions of street harassment and discuss what each of us can do to create on-the-ground activism in our communities.

unnamedThis year’s event features amazing speakers and performers, including:

– Feminista Jones (#YouOKSis)

– Girl Be Heard

– Linda Sarsour (Arab American Association of New York)

– Quentin Walcott (CONNECT)

– Deanna Zandt (Digital Technologist and Co-Founder of Lux Digital)

– La Roka (Pioneer NYC Hip-hop MC)

– and more!

Speakers will be available to answer questions during the panel session. Tickets are free for students/youth eighteen and under. Tickets for adults/organizations are pay what you can (suggested donations listed). RSVP and Get your tickets.

Any questions about the event can be sent to:

Afterparty at : Cubbyhole Bar –

*Read the interview with Hollaback cofounder Emily May on our sister blog,

If you want change you have to get involved. So what are you waiting for?

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