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News & Views - January 2016

Thank you for helping make this past year better for a lot of people.

In 2015, Strategic Living LLC provided over 550 hours of personal safety and self-defense training. Over 1,000 teen girls, women, children, LGTBQ youth, and local employees learned tools they could use to make their lives more secure.  And, thanks to support from the Fight the Fear Campaign, we reached more low-income families, women in domestic violence shelters or transitional housing, and at-risk youth than ever.

This would not have happened if those of you who've taken classes had not spread the word to your friends, family, and anyone you cared about.  Violence thrives in silence.  Speaking up breaks down isolating barriers.  The more we all learn about safety and confidence and speaking up, the more secure we all will be.  Please keep it up!

Sincerely, Joanne

Finding EmPOWERment in 5 Questions

Self-defense should be emPOWERing. That is, you should be able to better assess risks and make your own safety decisions, rather than follow a "tip" sheet that doesn't reflect your reality.

Unfortunately, there's a lot of "advice" or "tips" in circulation that are more victim-blaming and disempowering.  I see these in mass emails, and field questions from students, constantly.  So I developed this process:  in five questions I can decide whether or not any specific piece of information is emPOWERing and worth adding to an emPOWERing self-defense toolkit.

1. Is it based on reality? Is this piece of advice based on work that has been demonstrated to reduce violence and harm? Does it address real threats? Or is it a "thought experiment" (which is most often a marketing tool)?

2. Does it give you tools you can use? Do you come away with strategies and tactics to deal with real threats, or does it simply scare you?

3. Does it make your life bigger? Does this information expand your choices? Or does it
say, "don't go there" or "don't do that?"

A related point: does that information encourage you to make someone else's life smaller, based on their race/gender/ethnicity/sexual orientation/etc, to keep you "safe?" If the answer is yes, it is neither useful nor empowering, to yourself or anyone else.  EmPOWERment self-defense is not hate-mongering.

4. Does it blame those targeted for attack?  EmPOWERment self-defense gives you tools to keep yourself safer, while simultaneously placing responsibility for any assault squarely where it belongs - with the perpetrator. Nobody asks to be attacked. Ever.

5. Does it prioritize self-determination? Or are you placed on a box, a virtual prison  that you're persuaded to enter to "stay safe?"  Do you get to make your own safety choices?  Turns out that practicing making your own choices keeps you safer than does following someone else's dictates. 

Now it's your turn.  How do you decide what information will make you safer, and what to throw out?  Email me!

Web Resource:  Darkness To Light

The mission of Darkness To Light is simple:  empower people to prevent child sexual abuse.

Simple, yes.  Easy, no. 

It turns out that while most people are not going to abuse children, there are barriers that get in the way and prevent these otherwise wonderful folk from recognizing grooming patterns of those who do abuse.  Even if they do suspect something, well-meaning adults often have no clue how to intervene.  And many adults who do try to intervene or report their suspicions themselves are not supported or believed by other adults.

Enter Darkness To Light.  They have created an online training to help the average adult recognize and interrupt potential child sexual abuse.  While it is not free, it is very affordable and well-worth the $10 to go through the two-hour program.

Even if you do not have children of your own, or work with children, or in any way associate with children, do this.  Because you know other adults who do have children, who work with children, who care for children, and who one day may call on you to support them when they have to make that hard judgement call to report suspected abuse.

January is National Stalking Awareness Month

I've had, over the last 2 decades of teaching self-defense, several students take classes specifically because they were being stalked.  According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, about 7.5 million people are targeted by stalkers in the United States.  15% of women and 6% of men have experienced stalking victimization at some point during their lifetime in which they felt very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed.  The majority of stalking victims are stalked by someone they know: 61% of female victims and 44% of male victims of stalking are stalked by a current or former intimate partner, 25% of female victims and 32% of male victims are stalked by an acquaintance.

Statistics on stalking, however, don't tell us what it means to an individual who is targeted. This is what one student recently wrote of her experience:

To be monitored, followed, confronted by people in cars and on foot, to be stripped of one's privacy, one's freedom to move about publicly, and one's sense of safety is excruciatingly painful. . . .  As a person raised in a world that included violence and sexual predation, stalking has been the doorway back into reliving a hell that I barely escaped once before.

Other students have mentioned that even years after their stalkers ceased, they felt they could never totally let down their guard.  They felt they never knew if they would run into that person while doing necessary errands such as shopping, or at a social event, or would even end up in their social circles.  Several have opted out of using social media, just so they could not be searched for.

 The Stalking Resource Center website has a LOT of material.  Be sure to visit and learn about what you can do to help.
Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges, by Amy Cuddy

Those of you who've taken a Strategic Living class the last 3 or so years got to practice your "Power Pose/Wonder Woman Stance."  Dr. Amy Cuddy, from the Harvard School of Business, has done research on how your body language and posture shapes who you become.  The ability to project confidence, largely via body language, is a key ingredient in personal safety.

Finally her work expanded beyond her widely-viewed TED Talk and a smattering of interviews and articles.  Her book, Presence, just came out less than 2 weeks ago.  I am looking forward to listening to it on audiobook, narrated by Dr. Cuddy herself.

Find out more about Presence from the publisher's site.
Upcoming Classes - Winter 2016

Self-Defense 101 for Women:  This 6 week progressive skill-building course is offered at five locations this Winter:
  • Phinney Neighborhood Center class begins Tuesday, Jan 26, at 6:30 pm
  • Seattle Central College class begins on Monday, Feb 1, at 7:00 pm
  • South Seattle College class begins on Thursday, Feb 4, at 7:00 pm
  • Bellevue College class begins on Saturday, Feb 6, at 1:30 pm
  • ASUW Experimental College class begins on Sunday, Feb 7, at 10:00 am
Self-Defense Seminars:  This 5 hour class gives you personal safety essentials. Offered this winter on Jan 17, Feb 21, and March 20.

For Teen Girls Only:  In these classes she will learn to recognize "red flags," plan safe exits from iffy situations, try out physical moves (just in case), and learn to find supportive self-care. All in age-appropriate language and concepts.  Classes are age-specific to address her increasing independence.
  • For Tween Girls (ages 10-13):  Sunday Feb 14
  • For younger Teen Girls (ages 12-15):  Sundays Jan 24 and March 6
  • For older Teen Girls (ages 15+): Sundays Jan 24 and March 13
  • For Girls Off to College:  Saturday March 26

Refresh and Review

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 10% of their paid tuition to one of three awesome organizations for women and girls. Visit our 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 our Donated Class page for information on requesting partly subsidized training sessions.

Joanne Factor | Strategic Living, LLC | 206-202-0748 | |