Reflections on IMPACT Training: Donna, Class #104

I am 56 years old and grew up down south in Georgia.  All of my female role models were housewives who did not work outside the home. I was very shy as a young girl, and although it caused me much discomfort, it was never viewed as a handicap. Little girls who were shy and timid were often referred to as “cute” or “sweet”.  Sweet girls were often in the background, doing good and kind things for others.  Sweet girls were not selfish and they were certainly not assertive.     

I did not grow up playing sports or doing very physical things. I was very bookish and introspective. I remember as a young person being unusually nervous and restless and I had intense physical discomfort from holding things inside.  I was not a follower by nature and my independent thinking made it hard for me to reconcile my inability to assert myself.  My elementary school was very strict and rigid and reinforced dependency and submission in little girls.  When I look back on it I see myself as a little lamb, meek and mild and totally unprepared for the real world.  Consequently and not surprisingly I got entangled with people who took advantage of my “sweet nature”. After many years of being good and kind and understanding to everyone but myself I ended up in a relationship where I was abused both physically and psychologically.  My body was in a state of “frozen fear”.  My voice was buried deep inside me and I remember one day a concerned person looked at me and said, “Do you talk”?  I never forgot his words and it was a defining moment in my life.  It planted a seed that I needed help, that I must somehow learn to speak up, that I must learn how to protect myself. It would be a long slow path, but over time I began to learn to listen to the voice inside of me.  I began to listen when that voice would tell me things like “stay away from him” or “that person does not care about you”.  It took me many years to get better at caring for myself.          

I decided to take DC IMPACT because I wanted to learn how to be more assertive in a physical way and I thought being able to actually hit something (a padded mugger) would help me learn to move my body forward rather than retreat.  I wanted to be able to do something if I ever got attacked.  I decided that I did not want to just accept a possible assault on my body without doing something.  I wanted to learn to fight back.  I wanted to change an ingrained pattern in myself.  I wanted to learn to portray a sense of self-confidence with my body.  As I went through the class I learned that my mind and my fighting spirit were just as important as what I did with my body.  I began to see how much more powerful I could be if I just believed in the power of wanting to fight for my life.     

Before class I felt nervous and excited and happy for the opportunity to take the class and that finally after 4 years of being on the DC IMPACT mailing list I decided to take the class.  As I went through the class I was amazed at the feeling of support I was getting from the instructors and other women taking the class.  Watching them was such an important part of my learning.  Watching them confront and push forward in their quest to assert their own body and voice is something I needed to see and witness. As I watched the women it felt good to see them have their power.  When I noticed the small size of many of the women and their feminine body movements and low gentle voices I thought to myself, women are at such a disadvantage, no wonder we are targets.  DC IMPACT gives women a chance to level the playing field by helping us learn physical techniques to defend ourselves and also by offering us tools to help us learn how to avoid being a target in the first place.  

Reflections upon graduating

After taking DC IMPACT I now feel I have something powerful to draw upon if I am ever attacked. I finally feel like I can do something and that makes all the difference in how I feel about myself.  Before I took the class I felt like I was the kind of person who would probably just stand there (or lie there) in frozen fear, if I ever got attacked. Now I have more confidence and fighting spirit, which I believe will help me move beyond my fear so that I can use the physical training I learned to protect myself. Knowing that I do not have to just stand there and take assaults is a great form of independence and respect for myself.  

 I also feel since taking the class that I want to continue my self-defense training.  I feel like I am beginning a new path for myself.  I plan to take DC IMPACT again to reinforce what I learned.  I want to continue to learn and practice my self-defense skills.  I am so happy for what DC IMPACT has given me.