#MeToo Self Defense Class for Survivors is in the News

In my three-plus decades of teaching women’s self-defense classes, I’ve been privy to hundreds of stories of survival. There’s something about being in a group of supportive women that opens up the floodgates, and the stories come pouring out.

We have survived sexual assault and violence since the dawn of time. Rape and sexual abuse, for example, “are not just a by-product of war but are used as a deliberate military strategy.” (BBC News) Domestic Violence is nothing new, and has been prevalent in societies going back thousands of years. (Criminal Justice Research) I think it’s fair to say that survival is embedded in our DNA.

Experiencing assault changes lives. I’ll never forget the stories…the woman who locked herself in her closet at night when her husband traveled for work, or the woman who dropped out of college because she was deeply frightened each time she saw her assailant on campus. There are myriad women who don’t run alone, don’t run at night, no longer walk to work, don’t wear what they want, don’t speak up, freeze when groped, smile when angry and hide their bruises. These are just a few ways fear holds power over our lives and informs the choices we make.

#MeToo is Naga’s Self Defense Class for Survivors. The reporters at KOIN 6 heard about this class and wanted to know more. They recently stopped by and ran a piece about it.

 #MeToo, the Self Defense Class for Survivors finally came to life last summer. A mom, who is also a therapist, and who had participated with her teen daughter, approached me, eyes glistening, after a beginning self-defense class at Naga, and said she felt incredibly empowered, but as a survivor, didn’t want to completely “lose it” in front of her kid. She asked if I’d consider teaching a class just for women like her. I knew exactly what she meant, and started planning the #MeToo class right away.

As we all know by now, sexual assault is not about sex, but is about power and control. Self Defense is not just a way to learn and practice skills to stay safe from now on, but when taught properly, becomes a means to reclaim our power. When we face our fears, move through them and take our power back, we become unstoppable and truly free.