I have to thank Dr. Jill Cermele and Dr. Martha McCaughey for posting the following list to their blog “See Jane Fight Back” and allowing me to repost it here. The original title is 10 reasons why advocating self-defense training for women is feminist and not victim-blaming – I’ve shortened it, but it is no less meaningful.
I have found that the lesson which most empowers Women in classes I have taught is the simple fact that they have permission to defend themselves! For many years Women have been misinformed (often by trusted sources) to believe that “fighting back doesn’t work/help”, that it will “anger your attacker” and somehow make the situation worse. Newsflash; few things are worse than rape. Rape is not a sex crime, it is a crime of violence and control; it’s not over in a few minutes – sometimes not even a few hours – and for many the trauma lasts a lifetime. Studies (with the help of Survivor experiences) have proven what we’ve known all along – awareness and fighting back are the only things that works. While it may not stop a rape proceeding in all cases, it stops many from ever occurring and many more from escalating or completing – often in spite of overwhelming odds. I have personally heard experiences from Survivors who may not otherwise have been here to share.
We found that most SP actions, both forceful and non-forceful, significantly reduce the
risk of rape completion. In particular, SP actions such as “attacking without weapons,”
“struggling,” “run away/hide,” “warning” appear to reduce the risk of rape more than 80 percent compared to nonresistance. (National Institute Of Justice report – The Impact of Victim Self-Protection on Rape Completion and Injury, 2004)
Read and absorb this list. Follow the research links if you like (and certainly follow See Jane Fight Back), but most importantly of all KNOW that YOU ARE ABLE to be aware, informed and to defend yourself against any attack – and to assist in saving anyone else (it’s as simple as reporting the incident)!
- SELF-DEFENSE CAN WORK. There are decades of data, referenced by the National Institute of Justice, that support the effectiveness of self-defense, verbal and physical, in stopping rape and sexual assault.
- Self-defense advocates and instructors know that rape and sexual assault is always the fault and responsibility of the perpetrator, and never the fault or responsibility of the target, victim, or survivor.
- Self-defense offers women an option for risk reduction and maintaining their safety in ways that increase their freedom to the world, rather than limiting their freedom and options the way that relying on avoidance strategies and male protection does. In fact, the reliance on the men in our lives to maintain our safety is problematic; according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, almost 80% of the perpetrators of sexual violence against women between 2005 and 2010 were family members, intimate partners, friends, or acquaintances.
- Self-defense is a legal right open to women just as it is to men.
- Self-defense challenges the notion that women’s bodies are inherently vulnerable to men’s and the notion that men’s bodies are unstoppable.
- Self-defense challenges the belief that rape is thwarted only by the perpetrator “coming to his senses”, through bystander interference, or divine intervention.
- Self-defense training changes the broader culture that supports rape culture (or did you think it was just coincidence that so many guys think assertive women aren’t sexy?).
- Self-defense training teaches women the skills that facilitate the setting of healthy emotional and physical boundaries.
- Self-defense is empowering, and can change women’s beliefs about what they are capable of and what they are entitled to.
- And finally, for all these reasons, SELF-DEFENSE ALSO TEACHES MEN NOT TO RAPE.