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Strategic Living's News & Views

October 2014

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Dear ,  
Joanne Factor of Strategic Living
It is, without doubt, October.  The touch of the autumn air is a bit chilly and moist. Leaves are turning brilliant reds, yellows and orange, and just beginning to drift off their limbs to earth. Halloween, just one evening of ghosts and ghouls, spirits and specters, will be here in the wink of an eye.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  Unlike Halloween, though, domestic violence is not limited to October, nor should we be aware only these 31 days. Domestic violence is a wraith that walks the earth always. Abuse victims can be haunted for a long time, even after the relationship ends: they are more likely to suffer depression and anxiety than are other women, less able to form long-term loving relationships, and more likely to engage in harmful, high-risk behaviors, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you know a woman or teen girl in an abusive relationship, please download this flyer and send it to her. Send it to her friends also -- they probably feel like they're in a bad horror movie, powerless to intervene. In fact, send it to any female you know. It may save her from this nightmare later. Do your part to exorcise this demon now, for the whole year.

Sincerely, Joanne

I'm Sorry.  (How Do You Like Me Now?)

One student told me that when a guy on the street bumped into her friend -- she's sure deliberately -- the friend apologized right away and asked the guy if he was OK.  I had to stop the story to make sure I heard it right.  So this guy, on purpose, almost knocked her over and SHE said sorry?  Yup, I heard it right.

Apologies carry a complicated burden.  A heartfelt apology can mend fences and relationships.  A sincere apology can save face and begin to heal hearts.  An inauthentic apology can infuriate the receiver.  And a social apology can superficially appease others and make you seem more likeable -- really?

I began to consider apologies after reading this article, where author Lindsay King-Miller describes how offering apologies has totally transformed how others relate to her.  Got some pithy quotes, too:

"So these days I apologize a lot. Everyone tells me all the time that I don't need to, that I have nothing to be sorry for, that I shouldn't be so insecure, but in between they tell me how likable I am. How personable. How pleasant. How I set people at ease.


"Apologizing is a survival skill in a society where women are penalized, personally and professionally, for being abrasive, for speaking their minds, for not smoothing their sharp edges down, for not fitting in. Apologizing is a way of saying I know I'm smart but I don't mean to be. I know I take up space but I'm trying not to. I want you to like me more than I want to be right.
These are things the world demands from women. If you don't provide them, it punishes you. Before I started apologizing I heard all the time, secondhand, that people hated me. That this girl or that girl thought I was a bitch. That I was too aggressive and guys were scared of me. I never hear that anymore.


"People tell me that higher self-esteem would help me apologize less. I think No, you don't understand. I have to apologize because I can't let people know how awesome I actually think I am.  The world is not kind to women who love themselves as much as I do -- certainly not fat, queer, socially awkward girls. I am not supposed to have confidence. I am not supposed to think my opinions matter." 


Personally, I had never thought of apologizing for my opinions as a way to make others comfortable.  I despise the idea that anyone would expect me to express regret for being smart or projecting confidence.  But it happens, and consequences happen. 


King-Miller describes her younger self as brash, confrontational, emotionally needy, and sensitive.  She says she hated how people would shut her out to not deal with her intensity and neediness.  At some point, when in her 20s, she found herself apologizing for all the crying, saying that she was over-sensitive, it was no big deal. And she found that was acceptable.  And people liked her better. 


I do not know King-Miller.  I've never met her, and only know what she says about herself in this one article.  But I do know that many intelligent, articulate, and opinionated women are too readily dismissed as abrasive when they speak uncomfortable truths (and most truths will make someone uncomfortable). That assertive women can get labeled aggressive. And there's a small yet vocal group of trolls who are eagerly watching to pull off-balance any women who dare to "lean in." 


I don't believe that women's only two options are to blurt bluntly or cower contritely. Yes it takes some art and energy coming up with more appropriate and effective ways of expressing myself.  I accept the fact that there always will be individuals who just will not like what I have to say, regardless of how I couch it.  And I am a native New Yorker, so there are limits on how much I'm willing to care about others' opinions.  But the article did get me thinking about how saying sorry can be used to stay safe.  


Yes, the apology can be a self-defense strategy.  It can be a tool of camouflage, of distraction, of social disguise.  It has a VERY big role as a de-escalation tactic.  In rare instances you have to chose between being right (and maybe physically hurt) and emotionally available (which may manifest as sympathetic, empathetic, or apologetic).  When you make safety your priority, learning the art of apology can pay off.  That's good self-care, an essential component of your toolkit.


To make the choice that best suits your goals, you want to have all options at your disposal.  When you have to take out your self-defense toolkit -- whether physical or verbal or emotional responses are called for -- recognize that sometimes your choices are between bad and worse.  Do you want to pick your best response, or will you let someone else will decide for you?


In The NewsJoanne Factor teaching self-defense moves at the UW

I was on KOMO-TV the week of Sept 29.
There's a new web application, Kitestring, that will letyour phone notify specified people if you don't check in.  Reporter Michelle Esteban wanted my opinion on how useful it may be (it can be, but it's only one tool in your safety repertoire) and they stayed to watch a self-defense class at the UW. If you missed this broadcast event, there's no need for despair.  Everything recorded lives forever on the internet.   Watch the interview at the KOMO website, or on Strategic Living's press page.  


Class Schedule Fall 2014:

Self-Defense 101 for Women:
 A six week course that builds progressive skill and prepares you for life's unexpected (and unwanted) moments.  To register for any of these classes, visit for links to each organization and class registration.

Six Thursday evenings,
:00 - 9:00 pm, at South Seattle College (in West Seattle), beginning October 9 -- ONLY 4 DAYS FROM NOW.

Six Saturday afternoons, 1:30 - 3:30 pm, at Bellevue College's North Campus, beginning October 11 -- ONLY 6 DAYS FROM NOW. 

Six Monday evenings,
7:00 - 9:00 pm, at Seattle Central Community College, beginning October 27. 

Single Day Seminars:

This five hour self-defense basic class will be offered on October 19, November 16, and December 14 in Seattle's International District, and December 13 at North Kirkland Community Center.

Also check out these shorter (2 hour) offerings at the Burien Community Center:
  • Self-Defense for Women - Saturday Oct 18, 10 am til noon.
  • Self-Defense for Seniors - Saturday Nov 8, 10 am til noon.



For Teen Girls Only:

  • For Teen Girls (ages 14+) is on Satuday Dec 6, 1 - 4 pm, at North Kirkland Community Center. 
  • For Tween Girls (ages 10-12) is on Sunday Dec 7, 10 am - 12:30 pm in Seattle.
  • For Teen Girls (ages 12-14) is on Sunday Dec 7, 1 - 4 pm (class on Oct 26 is already sold out) in Seattle.
  • For Teen Girls (ages 15+) is on Saturday Dec 20, 1 - 4 pm in Seattle.

Visit the Strategic Living Teen Girls page for more info and to register. 





Self-defense skills are like CPR, you should review and practice them annually. 

If you've already taken a class and want to keep it fresh, Strategic Living offers a 50% discount on select classes. And, if you refer your friends to a Strategic Living class and they sign up, I will donate $25 to one of three awesome organizations for women and girls. Visit my Paying It Forward page for details.

Do you work with a non-profit or community organization that holds silent  auctions? Ask me to donate a gift certificate for attendance at a Single Day Seminar.

Do you work with a non-profit or community organization whose staff/volunteers/members/clients would benefit from a safety skills seminar? Visit for information on requesting partly subsidized training sessions. 

Liz J's staff had this feedback from their session: Self defense class - striking practice

"I really enjoyed the training.  It reinforced the notion of trusting your instincts and being aware of your environment.  I thought the physical techniques we learned were easy to remember and very practical."
"I thought it was a great training.  It has made me more mindful about my presence in the world.  I've been practicing acknowledging people (men) when I'm by myself by making eye contact but not smiling at them.  I used to feel like I had to smile to "be nice".  I've been conscious of my posture as well.  Also just being aware of my surroundings.  I haven't actually thought about using any of the self defense methods other than remembering what they are."
"I thought the training was helpful to remind me to continue being aware of my surroundings and feeling confident that I have the right tools to handle myself in any situation that comes my way."
"Role playing was very valuable (especially in getting a bigger voice out of my quiet one) and also it was great to practice the defensive moves. I thought we could have done more of that - there was a lot of dialogue which was helpful too but for me practicing something ingrains it in my brain more. The one thing that really stuck with me was walking around the car to create space between me and my possible attacker.  I do feel I recognize when I'm not walking big. I correct my stance more to walk taller and keep my hands by side more when I'm out and about by myself. So I'm ready!"
"I loved this training. I think about the moves that we were taught when I start to feel nervous when I'm out at night, etc. And it's helped to reinforce positive things I was already doing - like walking tall, making eye contact, etc. Really great!"   
Contact Information
phone: 206.202.0748

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