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I Can Take Care of Myself: The Impact of Self-Defense Training on Women's Lives

NCJ Number
Violence Against Women Volume: 10 Issue: 3 Dated: March 2004 Pages: 205-235
Jocelyn A. Hollander
Claire M. Renzetti
Date Published
March 2004
31 pages
This longitudinal study addressed whether self-defense training helps women to prevent or resist subsequent violence arguing that feminist self-defense training may reduce women’s risk of assault by changing their sense of self, their beliefs about women, and their interactions with the world around them.
Feminist self-defense classes teach women the skills they need to prevent and respond to violence. These classes focus on sexual violence against women and address the gender socialization and inequalities that make physical and verbal self-defense challenging. There are many effects that self-defense training has on women’s lives. In this article, evidence is presented of these effects which were drawn from an ongoing longitudinal study of self-defense training. The data presented were drawn from surveys of women who enrolled in two feminist self-defense classes taught at a university in the western United States. Thirty-six of the 60 women enrolled in 2 classes volunteered to participate in the research. The data presented suggests that feminist self-defense training positively affects women’s lives and include changes in the way women deal with potentially dangerous situations, but extend beyond such situations to influence many different aspects of women’s daily lives which include their interactions with a range of known and unknown others, their self-confidence and feelings about their bodies, and their ideas about gender. Additional results from the ongoing longitudinal study should help to confirm these findings and answer additional questions. References