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.
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.
Please note this class is not currently running but may run again in the future. If you are interested in being notified if this class is added to our schedule, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Women’s, Men’s, or All Gender LGBTQ Core
Core classes are our most comprehensive beginner-level courses. Though students will begin the class practicing the moves in slow motion – which can help build body awareness & muscle memory – students will end the course having mastered full-force self-defense techniques for many different scenarios, including sexual assault scenarios. Students are always guided by a coach in scenarios, and the intensity of scenarios is guided by the student themselves. Core classes also offer the option to practice a Custom scenario, which many trauma survivors find to be an empowering/healing experience.
Please click here for descriptions of all our self-defense 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?
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?
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.