IMPACT Safety, a program of LifeCare Alliance, recently launched a new initiative called “We Are Worth Defending.” The program is designed specifically for women of color (WOC) who are more likely to experience physical and sexual abuse than the wider population of women at large. Studies indicate that among WOC, 1 in 4 of them have experienced sexual assault before the age of 18.
Even with this disparity, WOC are often less likely to learn methods of defending themselves against attack than their white counterparts. Through a series of listening sessions, focus groups and online surveys during 2020-2021, IMPACT Safety engaged with more than 100 central Ohio WOC to try to determine why WOC might be less likely to learn self-defense tactics. This research identified three primary barriers that included time, money, and cultural conditioning.
According to Venica Miller, “We are Worth Defending” project manager, many of the cultural concerns uncovered included misconceptions that society may already look at WOC as being too strong, or too dominant, and thus do not need self-defense.
The week-long trainers’ training was led by Empowerment Self Defense (ESD) instructors from around the globe. ESD is an approach that combines verbal, physical, and intuitive tools to help individuals set boundaries, increase confidence, and learn how to heal from interpersonal violence. (IMPACT Safety is a provider of ESD training in central Ohio.)
“We Are Worth Defending” graduated 15 WOC who are now certified ESD trainers who can go out and teach these skills to other women in their community circles. Dr. Julie Harmon, director of IMPACT Safety, estimates that each newly minted trainer should be able to pass these skills along to approximately 100 other women. This represents an enormous impact in helping central Ohio WOC increase confidence and promote healing within their communities.
Hear from the new trainers themselves about their reaction to the program and their plans for passing these skills along.