Guide for Abuse Survivors
As a trauma survivor, how do I know which class to take?
Even though all our classes are trauma-informed and instructors have significant experience working with survivors, the nature of the material in a self-defense class can be triggering. This is not something that should necessarily scare you away, but something we think it is important that you understand when you are making the decision to take an IMPACT class. Being triggered does not feel great. But if in the moment of being triggered, you can stay present, confront, and work through that trigger, it has less power over you. In fact, one of the greatest things that some survivors take from this class is the bravery to confront something that has scared them, create a new ending, and thus be able to live in less fear.
Take a moment to read our class descriptions and then take some time to ask yourself the questions below about what you are looking for in a class.
Intro to IMPACT for Trauma Survivors
This is a 6-hour introductory course that offers you space to get hands-on experience of IMPACT at a slow introductory pace. You’ll learn more about IMPACT principles, practice grounding and breathing, and learn the physiology of the body’s adrenaline response, as well as tools for managing adrenaline. Instructors can be a great resource in this class for helping you decide which follow up classes may be right for you.
Assertiveness and Boundary Setting
Many survivors find that the ability to set and maintain boundaries greatly enhances their sense of safety. This course is an 8 hour all-verbal course that teaches students the skills for effective communication and negotiation in stressful situations. Students learn to set boundaries both verbally and with body language. They learn strategies for assessing challenging situations and relationships to determine the boundary that needs to be set. Practicing these skills in realistic scenarios, students have the opportunity to become comfortable staying calm and articulate while explaining their needs in situations involving strangers, co-workers, acquaintances, friends, family and partners.
Strength and Balance for Trauma Survivors
Strength and Balance provides a slow and gradual introduction to physical and verbal IMPACT self-defense combined with easy to learn Tai Chi movements that help students stay relaxed. The slow gentle movements of Tai Chi help students stay calm and physically present in a safe way; this lays the foundation for breathing and staying grounded while learning IMPACT’s self defense techniques.
Take Your Power For Female Survivors of Abuse and Trauma
Take Your Power was designed specifically to address the long-term effects of abuse on intimate relationships and sexual health. This 12-week course combines IMPACT’s physical and verbal safety skills with a unique curriculum focused on healthy relationships, boundary setting, and negotiation skills, healthy sexuality, and HIV/STD risk reduction. Light refreshments and childcare are provided.
Women’s, Men’s, or All Gender LGBTQ Basics
Please click here for descriptions of these three intensive core classes.
Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself to help figure out which class is right for you:
- Do you have a therapist?
- Will being in a space with other survivors help you feel more comfortable?
- Do you respond to stressful or scary situations by becoming physically sick or having other physical symptoms? Do you find yourself disassociating (checking out) often when things are hard?
- Is talking when you feel stressed helpful for you? Do you want the space to process what is coming up for you while learning self-defense?
- Will you feel more comfortable in a class with all other women students?
- Will being in a space with other LGBTQ identified students help you feel more comfortable?
Do you have a therapist?
Your therapist can be great resource for helping you figure out which class might be right for you. Many trauma therapists refer their clients to our program. Your therapist can discuss with you your goals, concerns, and fears in taking a self-defense class, and may be an excellent resource in figuring out which class most fits your needs. Additionally, many students find it helpful to have a support system in their life, with whom they are able to discuss some of the feelings that come up before, during, and after learning self-defense.
Some students discuss the possibility of taking an IMPACT class with their therapists, and together they decide that it isn’t the right time. Students who have waited a year or two to take the program have been very happy they did, knowing that that they were able to be more present and get more out of the class than they would have if they had not waited.
If your therapist is unfamiliar with IMPACT, we are happy to speak to them and explain more about how our program works.
Also, taking Intro to IMPACT for Trauma Survivors can be a great chance to try IMPACT for the first time and get help and assessment from us for which class will be best for you.
Will being in a space with other survivors help you feel more comfortable?
More than 50% of students who take IMPACT are trauma survivors and most classes have at least one survivor in them. While all of our classes are trauma-informed and taught by instructors with experience working with trauma responses, some survivors feel safer and more comfortable being in a space among other survivors.
Some feel more comfortable being with other students who they believe may be more likely to respond similarly to some of the teaching material as them, and thus feel less stigma about their own trauma. Some survivors feel less inhibited going where they need to go emotionally around other survivors. Some feel a shared goal of being in the class for healing, as opposed to just for information and skill building.
Even though there is absolutely no requirement to talk about one’s trauma history in our survivor classes, some people feel safer around others who they believe will be better able to understand what they are going through. If this is you, then taking one of our trauma survivor-specific courses Intro to IMPACT for Trauma Survivors, Take Your Power, or Strength and Balance makes sense.
Do you respond to stressful or scary situations by becoming physically sick or having other physical symptoms? Do you find yourself disassociating (checking out) often when things are hard?
Strength and Balance offers you the opportunity to learn to focus on your body and body’s responses and learn some foundational skills for regulating breathing and stress. In this class, you will be able to learn some physical self-defense techniques but at slower rate and with plenty of time to focus on how your body is reacting, and what is hard for you.
Intro to IMPACT Self-Defense is an opportunity to hear descriptions of how IMPACT works in the body physiologically, and get a slower introduction to our foundational physical self-defense technique with time to notice and discuss what is happening in your body. Techniques for staying calm and present will be emphasized.
Is talking when you feel stressed helpful for you? Do you want the space to process what is coming up for you while learning self-defense?
In the Take Your Power course, you acquire self-defense techniques with time to acknowledge and verbally process why these skills can be difficult to learn as a trauma survivor. There are 5 two-hour all verbal sessions, which focus on how abuse can affect our bodies, feelings, and everyday lives. Take Your Power is a longer course so there is more time for the group to connect. No one is required to tell their story or talk about their abuse in the class, but it can be helpful for some people to share or listen to common relationship and trust challenges resulting from abuse.
Will you feel more comfortable in a class with all other women students?
Take Your Power and Women’s Basics are classes for women students only. (All IMPACT classes are taught by a female coach and a male or female suited instructor. If you have more questions about the different roles of the instructors, please call the office at 781-321-3900.)
Will being in a space with other LGBTQ identified students help you feel more comfortable?
All Gender LGBTQ Basics is our intensive core class for students over the age of 14, who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning. The class focuses specifically on the ways in which LGBTQ-identified individuals are threatened, harassed and attacked. Identity, pronouns and respect around people’s choice of restroom are respected in all of our classes, and are a central part of group guidelines in this course.