Self Defense

Learning strategies for self-defense is important for women of all ages. Taking a self-defense or martial arts class can also feel extremely empowering.

When researching classes you are interested in, look for classes that emphasize not only the physical aspect but also demonstrate knowledge of personal safety issues that are key for women.

Self-defense programs that will be most effective are those with instructors/curricula that address the unique experience of women. For example, many self-defense programs use scenarios where the aggressor is a stranger attacking unexpectedly. In reality, 84% of all sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim. These attacks involve emotional and psychological tactics that precede physical aggression. As a result, assertive communication and boundary setting are other key non-physical components.

Additionally, empowering self-defense programs will challenge societal attitudes that contribute to physical abuse and sexual assault, including victim blaming.

If you prefer to read about self-defense prior to taking a class you may find the following helpful:

  1. When doing online searches make sure to use the word "women" in conjunction with "self defense" to yield better results.

  2. Read books that have a female perspective and/or stories of females overcoming attacks. A few examples are:

    • "Real Knockouts: The physical feminism of women's self-defense" by Martha McGaughey

    • "Beauty Bites Beast: Awakening the warrior within women and girls" by Ellen Snortland

    • "Her Wits About Her: Self-defense success stories by women" edited by Denise Caigon and Gail Grove