1. Setting clear boundaries is a life skill and prevents bullying
When looking at students and bullying (which is on the rise), 70.6% of young people say they have seen bullying in schools. Between 1 in 4 and 1 in 3 U.S. students say they have been bullied at school. 49% of children in grades 4–12 reported being bullied by other students at school at least once during the past month. There are several types of bullying. Below are some statistics:
These statistics were found at www.stopbullying.gov
2. Self-Defense tools can save your life or others.
I used to worry about telling people "Everyone needs self-defense cause it could save your life someday." I didn't want people to think I was a fearmonger or a used-car-salesmen. I just want them to understand. The reality is that regardless of if you are a bodybuilder with an 8-pack, a 250 pound/six foot human, a man or a woman, you need to learn self-defense. This does not have to be done with me. It does have to be at a place where you feel safe and are able to explore possible fears. We don't want to think about being attacked or even uncomfortable confrontations, but they happen. Statistically, every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. 82% of all juvenile victims are female. 90% of adult rape victims are female. Females ages 16-19 are four times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault. Women ages 18-24 who are college students are three times more likely than women in general to experience sexual violence. Females of the same age who are not enrolled in college are four times more likely. Men and boys are not immune to such a fate. They too can experience assaults of this nature. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), LGBTQ people experience sexual violence at similar or higher rates than heterosexuals. 44 percent of lesbians and 61 percent of bisexual women experience rape, physical abuse, or stalking by an intimate partner, compared to 35 percent of heterosexual women. 40 percent of gay men and 47 percent of bisexual men have experienced sexual violence other than rape, compared to 21 percent of heterosexual men.
Knowledge is power. Understanding the numbers and how to prevent yourself from becoming a statistic can only help you in the future.
Statistical data was found at www.rainn.org & www.hrc.org.
3. It builds self-respect, self-worth, self-Image, and helps you feel empowered
Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself. There will be times in your life where you are all you have. If you feel someone may harm you or something is outside of your comfort zone, it’s okay to speak up. YOU ARE WORTH THE RISK.
When people are willing to say “no” to things that make them feel uncomfortable, they are taking a positive step to understanding your self-worth. When you can genuinely recognize when a personal injustice is being done to you and you verbalize it, your confidence will skyrocket.
Low self-esteem is a thinking disorder in which an individual views him/herself as inadequate, unlovable, and/or incompetent. Dr. Joe Rubino, the creator of the Self-Esteem System, states that 85% of people have low self-esteem. Often low self-worth leads us to believe we are less deserving.
Growing up, I never thought I would run a self-defense business. Sometimes you fall into adventures you never would have planned but are created by only your wildest dreams. This adventure was designed by my nightmares.
Of course growing up I wanted to do martial arts. Enter the Dragon was an all-time-favorite film. Also, I wanted to be like my mom and dad. They studied Judo. I didn't know much about it, but I knew it made my mother's hands fast as lightning and gave my dad confidence that exuded throughout his body when he was merely standing in my presence. I wanted that confidence and my mother's fearlessness. In elementary school I felt fearless, protected by my older brother and parents. It was middle school that I learned to fear. One in four youth is affected by bullying. Strangely, I was the lucky one. I don't even remember her name. I just remember her fist connecting with the back of my head on the school bus while I sat looking out at the evergreen trees on the ride home. There was no interaction before that point. I kept trying to recall over and over if I had said something to offend her and if so, what it could have been, but there was nothing. I never wanted people to know that I was hurting. However, shortly after that event, I said I liked walking to my father's school to take the car ride versus taking the bus home. "I like the walk. It's great to look out at the water." That was my mantra. High School I became hypersensitive to people around me, developing extreme social anxiety and tried to be overly friendly to other classmates. I would think over and over again about conversations I had or conversations I would have, calculating what would be the best way to move forward. Playing basketball and being a member of the school choir, to the outside world I appeared very social, inside though, I was on pins and needles.
Being the slightly anti-social person that I was, where books were friends, and if they were comic books even better, I decided to do Running Start -- a program allowing me to earn college credit while still in high school. Getting to be on a college campus was great and a challenge in many ways. I was excited that I not only got to be around college students but I was also able to go to school with my brother, who I still look up to today. Being that my brother was four years older, all of my brother's friends seemed like big brothers themselves. I never thought much of it. All of them appeared protective by nature. One in particular who met me when I was 15 and at that time was 32, seemed to be the most mindful of my safety. I remember even hanging out and playing video games with him, thinking in my head; he was just another one of the guys -- family. When I turned 17, I found out he had been following me. At first, it seemed minor; to the mall, spotting me in different places around town. Then later, to music spots I used to frequent with my friends. One night, I got into a confrontation where he admitted to following me for a very long time, angry that I had had a boyfriend for the first time. Long story short, he was the reason I walked into a dojo and sign up for six months of training. I was scared. Because he positioned himself as family and kept close to my brother, mother, and father, I was afraid to tell anyone of his interactions with me. I said nothing.
The story continued, but this was the beginning. And for all of those who are afraid to speak out, I want you to know that you are strong and there are people in your life who love you. They will listen to you and if they don't, find someone who will.
I'm not gonna lie, over the past four months I have felt extreme gratification on so many levels at what feels like a reckoning, something which has been long awaited and lingering underneath the surface. Feelings of sadness have also come through, from memories long suppressed and in some ways forgotten. There are always two sides to every coin. There are occasions where the person accused did not actually commit the crime, which is why due process is important. Here is what came out in more depth about one of the outings.
Love comedy? The news of I Louis C.K. shocked me, so of course, I did what any fan would do. I went through every YouTube video, interview or otherwise to find out what he did and why. I had to read the whole story of Louis C.K. from all the angles both pro and con. Some celebrities who have been outed weren't worth my time but let's face it, Louis C.K. has brought me to smile on some not so good days. Thus, reading of his misconduct, several thoughts rushed through my mind:
His situation and all of my pondering brought me to an even greater issue. All of these people, at some point, were shown this type of behavior, it was modeled for them, and whether spoken or not, they were told it was OKAY. Regardless of the expectation, the entitlement, it in NO WAY is. Mind you, this does not by any means justify their actions, but it does make you think of the deeper, systemic issues at work.
Louis C.K.'s story was one that reminded me of a closet case alcoholic -- he had done it for years, didn't want to admit it was a problem, some people knew about it but didn't realize it was "THAT BAD", and the only time he was willing to admit the truth was when the point of no return came and went, the proof was out, and he could hide behind the curtain no more. It's time for rehab Louis. He did not rape anyone, but you don't have to rape someone to traumatize them. What is sad is that I have respect for him, in the sense that there were so many people who weren't willing to admit it, even with the staggering evidence against them. I have had to ask myself why am I giving someone credit for doing what they should have done all along? Are good men really that hard to find?
Tangent Rant (Be Prepared...If you would like to skip, I totally understand. Please go to the next bold print paragraph.)
Who taught these men that dropping their drawers and wanting women to look at it or play with it, was acceptable. More so, desirable??? REALLY!? It reminds me of an elementary school where young boys are discovering that they like girls and are thinking, 'Hhhhmmmmm, how to get their attention??? Do I get them flowers...no, no. Do I make them a card? No. Oh yes, let me show her my penis. Definitely something she will not look away from.' Just a tip (no pun intended...kinda): They stay their frozen because they don't know how to put into words what you have done or how absurd you look or how humiliated they feel. Then again, in Louis, C.K.'s case, part of me believes he knew he looked absurd, gross, and disgusting. He talked about how disgusting he was in many of his skits.
(Rant Ended)...Continuing with final thoughts on Louis C.K.
Now, not all men are Louis C.K., but I know right now there are several women and other victims who feel betrayed and honestly believe that notion. I know some have lost their faith in men and while that is warranted I have to say, there are some amazing men left in the world today. Hard to believe with the tabloids but it's true. The Tom Hanks's, Steven Colbert's, John Stewart's and those of their like, all prove to be good guys in the media/on television but what about in our everyday lives? I know of several! Two such men, I play cribbage with every time I visit my family in Washington and each has been involved in the political arena -- go figure. Marty Campbell and Erik Hanberg thank you! Neither has ever made me feel uncomfortable. I have had two guys who have helped me through the roughest of times, always kind, always caring, always respectful -- Thank you Kenji Stoll and Chris Jordan. I have an awesome friend who has been a walking and karaoke buddy who I have partnered with on different work related projects surrounding education -- Greg Williamson you Rock! Since the age of eighteen, I have had a self-defense partner, Lee Vilaysane, who even introduced me to salsa and treated me like a little sister. Never did I worry about him making a pass at me or doing anything untoward. They all give me hope. Growing up, I was lucky to have an amazing, loving, and kind father. He has and continues to surround himself with men that I can look at and learn from -- models. So that I know what I deserve. Our girls need that today!
And for me, I have been given an opportunity to experience healthy love, finding a guy who I feel safe with, can laugh with, and who does not look at me like I am damaged or have baggage. I never have to worry about him cheating...partially because I am a Gemini and I have enough personalities for anyone to deal with but also, that is just how he was brought up. There are men out there like that. It's true.
We need men to model and educate others, both young and old. We need women to bond together and not dismiss these stories coming forward. Investigate serious allegations, look for the facts, but don't automatically dismiss someone who is trying to tell you something which could have been deeply traumatizing. We need a cultural shift, and while I truly believe women are a force, I also know that there need to be men standing right alongside us, speaking up, standing up to unjust behavior and actions when witnessed and checking other men's egos at the door. In light of this new reality, we have the opportunity to create a new state of being for the people in our lives who have been affected by such actions and the people in our lives who could be affected someday without intervention. I know this sounds corny, but we can be the change we wish to seek. It just takes conversation, listening, education, and growth from all people across the spectrum. And for my ladies and girls out there, that little voice in your head, listen to it. It isn't lying to you.
"Where are all the good men dead? In the heart or in the head?" ~Gross Point Blank
Watching Mad Men, we all want Don Draper to be a good guy but let's face it, he is a womanizer. Is it possible to be a good guy and a womanizer? Many of us consider several philandering presidents to be good guys. Here is where the lines get crossed, colors turn to grey and things get mucky. Don Draper's mentality is so mainstream that a lot of the misbehavior can be forgotten by most people and by those directly affected is easily dismissed -- that is the problem. Who puts that in check? ME TOO has been a silent, yet massively effective statement bonding women across the nation and the world. I do believe that in light of the magnitude of people (both men and women) who were affected by some form of sexual misconduct, it gave those affected as well the courage to step into the light and share their stories. I see the cases (stories) and all the men outed as symptoms though. What is the cure for it all? ME TOO has brought to light the people, but how do you change this behavior besides outing people after the fact? Do these situations make men think twice? Are they thinking twice for the right reasons?
A few Q & As:
We have grown up in a Mad Men world where lewd comments and inappropriate sexual gestures are something that everyone has had to DEAL with. For years, we have had to deal with our fair share of sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, defilement, and after it all, many of us stay silent. People are walking around with PTSD that don't even know it exists within them because they have been conditioned to believe this is the norm. But deep down, they have to know something is wrong...don't they?!
My Personal Stories
I remember my own experiences in the professional arena. I spent over 8 years in the education field working on education policy, doing inspirational speaking, doing book reading with the children's book I wrote, illustrated and published, doing women's empowerment workshops, and teaching youth of all ages. I was one of the youngest women in a director position running a non-profit in my city. Despite the fact that the field was education, a place where one should feel safe, a place that is meant to be professional, I can recall several times where I felt my dignity being compromised by lewd comments and gestures. That Mad Men, old school, "locker talk" behavior. One of the worst moments in my professional career being an unwanted gift that was so left field, from a much older, male colleague that I just drove home dumbfounded. The person knew I was in a relationship and he was married which irked me even more. He was someone who I never made advances to, flirted with, or eluded to wanting. That gift made me think; question myself, my worth, how I was perceived, what others thought of me, and one of the most prominent thoughts which just kept drumming in my mind was, 'What did I do wrong?' It was embarrassing, to say the least, asinine at most and just downright uncalled for! I realized at that moment that despite how conservative I dressed, despite my position, despite the fact that I had done nothing in the way of flirtatious conversation, I was still vulnerable and could still be degraded. Something inside me felt sick.
In the personal arena, a week before my book launch, I dealt with an attempted sexual assault by a stalker holding a foot long wrench. The event left me feeling hollow, on edge, and afraid for a very long time. Never in my life had I met that person. Knowing martial arts and how to assess the situation I was in on a critical level saved me from a worser fate. From that event, I had post-traumatic stress, nightmares, and constant anxiety to the point that I didn't even want to socialize anymore which was counterproductive to my work. At times I would get home from work, curl up in the fetal position and just cry. I had a girls program and spoke of empowerment, taught self-defense, but deep down, part of me felt like a fraud. I was so afraid after what had happened; I didn't know how to be. When I was a little girl, I dreamt of becoming a full-time writer. After finishing my first book, I thought I would write a million books after, and that book launch was just the beginning. Honestly though, after that day, I had no will to pick up a pen or start typing. I didn't want to promote my book. The reality was I didn't want to do anything. On a cellular level, I felt dead. I knew my life and whatever innocence I had left died in that room. The trial against my attacker took a year and a half. During this time he was not in jail and I constantly looked over my shoulder. At one point a person very close to me asked why I was putting another black man behind bars when he "didn't even rape me." I have read The New Jim Crow and very much believe that our prison systems are set up so that people of color, specifically black males are put in positions where the odds are stacked against them. So the statement hurt deeply. I was working on issues surrounding racial equity in my community and what was said just stung. Being cognitive of racial dynamics, especially when dealing with our justice system is vital. Was I making a mistake -- a thought that crossed my mind often after that comment was made. There were several times I wanted to call it quits on the trial but then a week before one of the trial dates; my stalker sexually assaulted someone else. That's when I knew I had to continue, stay the course, and see it through to the end because, despite the fact that he did not sexually assault me, I was violated and with my inaction, he could easily assault again. My safety felt in jeopardy. Being surrounded by positive women at that time actually saved me. My friends Erin Jones, Sharon Gordon, Kit Evans, Sarah Knutson, Stephanie Raven, Jasmyn Jefferson, Nicci Montgomery, and my mother, who stayed with me through the tears, the anger, and all of my fears -- they made that time of my life bearable. The police officer who was there with me from the day of the assault all the way up through the final day of trail -- officer Rush gave me strength and was a reminder that what happened to me mattered. All of these women also helped me to realize I had enough evidence to put this guy away and keep him away from others who he could harm worse than what had happened to me. I share this very personal story because, I want people to understand the conflicting feelings about coming forward, the realities about why some of these women are bringing to light events that are less than a full-on sexual assault, events that may have happened years before. Also, I share because I want people to understand why coming forward might be needed for such change to happen, shifting the MAD MEN Culture.
Living In Action
This blog is intended to share about SELF-DEFENSE, WOMEN'S EMPOWERMENT, and my PERSONAL JOURNEY in Learning how both fit into My LIFE. I will share Safety and Self-Defense Tips, my thoughts on the Gender Dynamics we face today, and my thoughts on related news.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.