IMPACT at Camp Promise

10 Dec, 2014

Our campers learned skills to turn scenarios in which they would otherwise have felt helpless into opportunities to use their greatest strengths—their voices—to set boundaries, advocate for themselves, and report abuse. They learned how to carry themselves to look like difficult targets—a key lesson with given that statistics report somewhere between 70% and 90% of people with disabilities being abused or assaulted.
The group that left the workshop looked very different than the group that came in. They sat taller, spoke louder, and had more confidence. I encourage anyone who works with a “vulnerable” population to reach out to Prepare. The training they offer is invaluable, especially to people with physical and cognitive disabilities. And, I cannot wait to see IMPACT:Ability transform the lives of a new group of students!
Donate to Emerging Strategies for Learning and Leadership (a 501 (c) 3 organization) to support training 6 additional instructors in the IMPACT:Ability program.

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IPV impacts everyone differently

3 Dec, 2014

In a recent class with 9th grade girls, we did a version of an exercise where one person stands in the middle of larger group of their classmates. She represents the person in an abusive relationship. Each of the surrounding people, one by one, read an unsupportive statement and cut their connection to her by turning their back to her. As the circle turned their back on her, her abuser, standing just off to the side, is clearly the only one left that is there for her.

The exercise was repeated and the surrounding students read very supportive statements. They re-established a connection to her by facing her and reaching out their hands to her. The visual was clear and dramatic. The victim now had a network of relationships that would sustain and support her, whatever she decides to do.

The exercise was profound for everyone, most of all, the student in the middle. She had a dramatically difference response both times – feeling abandoned and alone and horrible the first time; ready to think, plan, accept help, and take care of herself the second time.

My takeaway from this series on IPV, reinforced deeply by that exercise just 2 weeks ago, is that my judgment isn’t what is needed. What is most important to the victim is maintaining a connection – possibly a lifeline. I won’t forget.

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Complex Dynamics in IPV

25 Nov, 2014

Hilary Bok at, writing about why people stay, reminds us that leaving can be dangerous, even fatal. While leaving is not everyone’s goal, if it is, then it would make sense to stay “at least until you had figured out how to leave safely and cover your tracks.” Not always so easy – where to go, how to support yourself and children, dealing with blowback from friends, family, community, managing shame and self-blame. Let’s just say, it is a high bar for many. And, because someone hasn’t left yet doesn’t mean they’re not in the process of figuring it out – which might require time and great discretion for the sake of their safety.
The capacities one would call on to leave are the same capacities that are being eroded by the cycle of abuse – for example, self-respect and confidence. The longer the relationship lasts, the more those capacities are affected, and the more ties have been created – financial, children, household, community for example. Contrary to myth, most women (85%) in an abusive relationship do leave, or at least try, according to Sara Staggs.

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Men in sports speak out against Interpersonal Violence (IPV)

5 Nov, 2014

Yes. The problem is bigger than football. Yes. Let’s stop wringing our hands at the violence of football players, as if they alone are the perpetrators (or condoners) of such behavior. Yes. Let’s actually listen to the people who tell their stories and believe them and address their needs. Yes. Let’s ensure there is on-going education to change both beliefs and behaviors about gender roles and violence. Yes. Let’s acknowledge that holding beliefs that some humans are less human or less valuable than others is seriously problematic because those beliefs manifest in behaviors that are harmful.

Melissa McEwan writes, “Privilege is dangerous. Supremacist thinking is dangerous. Dehumanization is dangerous. Failing to view another human as your equal, failing to acknowledge and respect their humanity, is dangerous.”

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Bias, Bullying & Stereotypes: The Power of Elle

29 Oct, 2014

First, communities can change their beliefs — even ones deeply held around ableism, or sexism, or classism, or lookism, or racism. Second, once those beliefs about difference and otherness shift — it naturally supports inclusion and kindness.

Anti-bullying work that includes a deep understanding of Bias and Stereotypes can deeply impact the community.

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Ray, Janay, and social media

23 Oct, 2014

Janay’s wishes should be respected. Janay is free to make any choice she wants about staying or leaving; she alone is the final authority on what is best for her. She is still tweeting and posting on Instagram in defense of herself and Ray.

Ray knocking Janay out cold wasn’t her fault. Her desire to deflect blame off her husband, by “regretting her role,” asking for privacy because the constant drumbeat of the story keeps the memory of that evening fresh in their minds (like reliving the trauma over and over), and her concern over the welfare of her family after the loss of Ray’s job – these statements may be necessary for her own survival.

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October: Domestic Violence Awareness Month

15 Oct, 2014

This month began with an email from someone who knows Prepare for the work we do at her school. “Someone I know is in a violent relationship and she has a young child; she wants to leave but is scared. Can you help her?”

Our colleague’s friend is dealing with her relationship outside the public eye. But some stories make the news, especially when celebrities and athletes are involved, as is the case with professional football player Ray Rice and his caught-on-tape knockout punch of Janay Palmer Rice. One of the important lessons I’ve learned from teaching Walk the Talk (anti-bias, anti-bullying curriculum) and gaining more media literacy is to ask, “Whose voices are represented?” and “Whose voices are left out?”

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Top 3 ways to wreck your impact in stories about survivor recovery

8 Oct, 2014

Examine what being one’s own superhero represents to women. Why is it so meaningful to feel the physical embodiment of power, of emotional and physical self-efficacy? How does that support the healing process? How does that counter societal messages to the contrary? Think critically about why there is such a dearth of well-known examples of women who can defend themselves that the “go to” is a fictional character with super-human powers or weapons. How have we been taught that one has to have super powers to physically resist violence?

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Series: Meet DC IMPACT Chapter Director Carol Middleton

2 Oct, 2014

Meet Carol Middleton, founder of DC IMPACT, founding member of the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation and owner of two martial arts schools: Krav Maga DC, and DC Self Defense Karate Association. Carol is a 7th degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do, and has focused on women’s self-defense since she began martial arts in 1968. Carol has taught nationally and internationally, including workshops in England and Austria, conducting the first training of self-defense instructors across the former Soviet Union in 1993, and training an instructor team in Kenya in 2009.

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How do we IMPACT the status quo?

24 Sep, 2014

Looking at national data from 2004 to 2013, the Crime Victimization Survey 2013 shows that property crime and harm from firearms went down, but rates of rape, sexual assault, and serious intimate partner and family violence increased. Reporting ticks up, but remains at under 35% for rape and sexual assault.

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