Who We Are
Prepare is an educational services company that offers comprehensive violence prevention programs and evidence-based programs for personal safety, communication skills and self-defense. This training is an important part of a larger movement to create social change, prevent abuse, and support healing. We are committed to a broad vision of societal response to violence.
At the Prepare Training Center we offer public classes for personal safety, self-defense, and communication skills for all ages and genders, all levels of fitness, and all body types – including Introductory Workshops, Basics, and Advanced courses.
Our school-based programs include: health and life skills education, anti-bias and anti-bullying programs, and social and emotional learning fundamentals.
Corporations and agencies engage Prepare for safety training for staff that work on-site and in the field, as well as professional development workshops in leadership, communication skills, and team building. Workplace safety programs include issues such as managing angry or disoriented clients and navigating domestic and international travel.
Individuals, groups, and community-based organizations engage Prepare for private, custom classes to meet a variety of goals and needs.
The Benefits of Our Programs
Although the physical safety skills are often the highlight of our program, our classes cover more than just how to stay safe or how to intervene in a confrontation. Learning how to listen carefully, think clearly, problem-solve, and give direction is much more difficult while under high levels of stress. Since the human response to fear, crisis, challenge or stress is a rush of adrenaline, Prepare training uses real life scenarios that allow participants to feel what it is like to experience the adrenal state and to grow more acclimated to functioning effectively while adrenalized.
Our graduates often report that they bring the same feeling of safety, empowerment, and communication skills from their Prepare training into their daily personal lives. They report positive effects such as:
- greater general awareness and confidence
- ability to communicate clearly and directly
- increased self-esteem and assertiveness
- the ability to be a helpful bystander or advocate for others
- creative and flexible problem solving skills
- improved leadership skills
- more focus and effectiveness at work
- calmer and more clearheaded thinking during stress or crisis
Prepare is part of an Impact International, an affiliation of organizations that provide IMPACT curriculum. Each IMPACT chapter has its own organizational structure and programmatic focus. For more information about Impact International and other IMPACT chapters, please visit www.impactselfdefense.org.
What We Do
At Prepare, we take an integrated approach to personal safety and violence prevention using consistent, research-based methods, and qualified instructors. Our classes empower individuals to lead their lives fully, with the confidence that they have the tools to better manage what life brings their way. Programs include awareness training and adrenaline management. Our curriculum highlights verbal boundary setting strategies and verbal resistance skills combined with dynamic physical resistance instruction. Students learn how to trust their instincts, tap into their own intelligence and life experience, and choose for themselves if, when, and how to respond.
All classes are taught in a team style, with a lead instructor and instructors wearing “suits” to protect their bodies from full force, full contact strikes. The suited instructor provides participants with real-time practice and feedback in both verbal role-plays and physical resistance rehearsals. This enhances learning and makes the workshops interactive and engaging. This system teaches effective self-protection skills that work for people of different ages, sizes, and physical abilities.
Fundamental Concepts of our Curriculum
- External awareness to the environment – Where am I, what is happening?
- Internal awareness to one’s feelings – How does this person/situation make me feel?
- Threat assessment – Is this situation annoying or dangerous?
- Accessing external resources – Can I find help nearby and/or quickly leave and get to safety?
- Adrenaline/stress – How can I manage physiological and emotional arousal and not “shut down”?
- Threat management – What is the best option to keep me safe? Can I move to safety, can I verbally set limits or self-advocate? Is physical resistance an option for me?
- Body boundaries – How close is someone getting/are they breaching the norms of social behavior?
- Emotional boundaries – How is someone “pushing my buttons” or manipulating me?
- Communication skills – How can I use words and nonverbal communication to say what I mean clearly and powerfully?
- Bystander Intervention – How can I access the help of people in the area?
- Allied Behavior – Can I find a way to stand up for others?
Because the majority of sexual assaults and other violations are committed by people close to us, and intra-racially, we teach effective strategies for addressing situations in which a person we know is not respecting our boundaries, such as a dating partner, family member, or other familiar person. Prepare classes are trauma informed and instructors are sensitive to abuse and related issues. For many who have experienced family violence, sexual assault, or other trauma, the embodiment of physical and emotional self-efficacy in the face of a simulated assault is a unique healing experience. We teach, coach, and support students according to best practices developed by therapists and counselors in the field of trauma recovery. The physically safe and emotionally supportive environment allows students to increase self-confidence and increase their sense of personal power.
We situate the responsibility for violence directly on the perpetrator. We will never blame, shame or critique what you have done or not done, or will do or not do in the future, for self-defense or self-preservation. We recognize the larger culture of victim-blaming that we live in and encourage you to avoid blaming or critiquing yourself for any past experiences you may have had. You did the best you could for yourself at the time to keep yourself safe, and are here now. Self-defense and self-preservation strategies at every level are choices. They are presented as options, not “shoulds.” All choices are valued but we don’t have to rehearse compliance. Rehearsing resistance makes it a more viable choice. Learning your options doesn’t obligate you to use any of them.
More about Comprehensive Violence Prevention
Primary Prevention and Context
Prepare‘s curriculum for primary prevention works to change beliefs and behaviors that lead to violence before it happens. In all our programs, we situate violence in the social and cultural context within which it exists. To that end, we consciously address the roots of violence (racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia, xenophobia, ableism, for example) together with myths about violence and who is dangerous (physical and sexual abuse is mostly committed by familiars, not strangers, for example,). Further, we explore the relationship of rigid gender roles to being both perpetrators and targets of violence. This is done via media and cultural literacy education. Finally, Prepare acknowledges that people are targeted differently and have different levels of access to the legal right to verbal and physical resistance based on their identity and social position (age, gender and sexual orientation, race, immigration status, physical and mental ability, for example).
Prepare offers curriculum for secondary prevention customized for each student and every population we teach. Our self-defense and personal safety classes offer education on both threat assessment and threat management, valuing all levels for resistance and compliance as valid choices for self-defense and self-preservation. In order to understand threat assessment, students learn to examine situations and response options through the lens of these criteria: • Environment • Behavior • Context • Relationship to the person • Instincts
Prepare as Part of a Larger Trauma Intervention (Tertiary Prevention)
Prepare offers programs in collaboration with community partners specifically for those healing from trauma (tertiary prevention) that are part of a larger intervention for recovery. These programs support the recovery process and also function as prevention education for future situations. Many individuals in our public classes also want the benefits of class as part of their recovery from trauma. Therefore, all our programs are trauma-informed and trauma and abuse-sensitive. Our instructors teach, coach, and support students according to best practices developed by therapists and counselors in the field of trauma recovery.
We address concerns about self-defense and victim blaming
Some people have some concerns about the way self-defense is usually presented with too much emphasis on physical skills, stranger danger and victim blaming approaches, and the check list “you should always” approach that asks people to limit their lives to stay safe. Prepare classes replace myths about crime and perpetrators with facts and research; for example, crime is mostly committed intra-racially by people we know, not strangers, in familiar places. Prepare is different because we offer a spectrum of tools including: avoidance, psychological preparedness, adrenaline management, verbal and physical resistance skills. We encourage people to lead their lives fully while having tools to manage unavoidable situations they might encounter.
In our classes, we communicate: the responsibility for crime lies with the perpetrator and not the target. Self-defense and self-preservation strategies at every level are options, so there are no “shoulds” – any response or no response is the choice of that person in the moment. All choices are valued but we don’t rehearse compliance; instead, we rehearse resistance, which makes it a more viable strategy. Learning your options doesn’t obligate you to use any of them. We will never blame, shame or critique what you have done or not done, or will do or not do in the future, for self-defense or self-preservation.
Self-defense is not entertainment or military combat
Physical resistance to interpersonal crime is different than fighting as entertainment (boxing, video games, movies) or military combat. Too often, our mental image of what “fighting” looks like is influenced by what we see on movies and television, performed by actors with the help of special effects, fictional characters with special powers, elite military forces, and professional athletes. Therefore, we’re left with the impression that resistance isn’t possible without extraordinary strength, extensive training, or weapons — because our enemies are portrayed as having larger-than-life powers. This perpetuates myths about who is dangerous and the viability of resistance. In our classes, we make a clear distinction — when one person hasn’t agreed to the encounter, then physical aggression is a crime. Our classes offer physical resistance as an option in this case, when escape or verbal responses aren’t possible or sufficient.