10.05.16 by Erin Epperson
Erin Epperson has been part of the Violence Prevention/Self-Defense program either as a teacher or as an assistant since 2011. Earlier this year, she attained her national certification as a self-defense instructor. Erin is pictured above teaching at Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School.
I find myself nowadays to be a wearer of many hats at Thousand Waves. Last fall, I came on staff as a karate teacher in the kids’ program. As of this past summer I came on as a part-time grants writer. It’s been an exciting challenge putting my Ph.D. writing talents to use for a new purpose, to reach out to potential funders to forge these new relationships and share with others the successes of our programming. I also find myself contributing in other areas of the organization I hadn’t expected—front desk and other administrative duties, events planning and management. And most importantly, there is the self-defense teaching—the reason I do what I do! This year we have more programs than we’ve had in years, including the grant-funded self-defense series for LGBTQ homeless and insecurely-housed youth. There’s never a dull day!
I was first drawn to Empowerment-Self Defense through my experiences as a female grad student traveling in India for study and research. I realized only after returning from my first trip how unsafe experiences of harassment had made me feel. I enrolled in Thousand Waves’ 12-hr Self-Defense Intensive Spring 2010 in preparation for a return study abroad trip.
10.05.16 by Margarita Saona
Something incredible happened in my country [Margarita’s home country is Peru — ed] that presents evidence of the power of telling (the fifth finger of self-defense) and the idea that one wave sets thousands in motion. A small group of women started organizing a protest because of a couple of cases where the judicial system had not prosecuted men who had blatantly abused women. They created a closed Facebook group. The members quickly rose from a couple hundred to, now, over 60,000. In this group, meant to coordinate the protest about these cases, one woman started telling her own story as a survivor of abuse. And another one followed. Soon there were thousands of women telling their stories, and every minute the members of the site witnessed the shocking reality: the stories of women’s verbal, emotional, and physical abuse at the hands of men could not be contained neither in their numbers nor in the horror they related. Even though the group is still closed, many of these women, along with their allies with ties to the media, started to reveal what was happening on this Facebook site to the general public through opinion columns and newspaper articles: one after the other they denounced the pervasiveness of the terrible secret all these women had kept. A public Facebook site coordinated the details of the event and on August 13th the march #NiUnaMenos took tens of thousands of Peruvians to the streets in several cities to manifest their repudiation of the violence against women, the awful truth that had remained hidden for so long. I believe that the brave women who started sharing their stories have opened the eyes of even those used to minimizing these abuses. It is, of course, everybody’s prerogative to share a traumatic story or not. But this phenomenon has confirmed my belief in the importance of telling, both as a way to heal for the victims and as a way to create a stronger community capable to standing up to violence.
And I wrote this:
A summary of the evidence supporting Empowerment Self-Defense as violence prevention on college campuses (and one study about bystander intervention)
10.05.16 by Amy Jones
Empowerment self-defense is the umbrella term for the approach to self-defense that we teach at Thousand Waves. Other “empowerment self-defense” (or ESD) programs include IMPACT Chicago (and other IMPACT chapters), the programs that the Center for Anti-Violence Education runs in Brooklyn, the programs run by sister school Sun Dragon Martial Arts & Self-Defense in Austin, Texas, Hand to Hand Kajukenbo Self-Defense in Oakland, and many others across the country. Basically, it’s the idea that self-defense should help participants live with more confidence and less fear by helping them identify and strengthen their self-defense skills, giving them accurate information about violence, and supporting them in making choices that make sense for their life.
We teachers of ESD have felt strongly for years that it’s a great way to empower our participants to reduce violence in their own lives and communities. While there have been articles on the efficacy of self-defense generally in the academic literature for quite a while, it has only been in the past few years that we’ve started to see academic studies that look carefully at empowerment self-defense courses specifically.
10.05.16 by Amy Jones
Recently, I had a conversation with Andrea Stein, Violence Recovery Project Coordinator at Howard Brown Health Center. Andrea works with LGBT folks who are affected by intimate partner violence, and she was concerned that our self-defense programming would be inappropriate for someone in an physically abusive relationship. Since October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share what I told her – which are the ways self-defense training can help people in abusive relationships.