With our mission to build safer communities at Kwema we have talked to experts in security and safety such as Lauren Roselle, who is one of the most sought experts in the United States on issues of bullying prevention and self-defense, as well as being the founder and president of Esteem, a communication consulting firm. Lauren’s experience includes personal training, group trainings and motivational public talks. With 27 years of experience leading more than 1,000 trainings, Lauren is proud to have developed a series of leadership trainings that equip the participants with the skills they can immediately use to defend themselves and this time she shares with us a bit of her experience about the topic.
When I ask women directly why they have never taken a self-defense class, the most common response I hear is along the lines of, “I guess it’s never really been convenient.” I trust they are telling me what they believe is their real reason. However, my experience in the field of assault prevention tells me there is more to it than that.
I remember a call from a woman I received the week after Trump was elected President. She said she wanted to put a self-defense workshop together for a group of women friends because they were all feeling a heightened sense of anxiety for their safety. She was perplexed at some of the responses she received from some of her friends, including women who have been frightened by aggressive male perpetrators, who didn’t think they needed a class. Perhaps they didn’t believe anything can help; perhaps they were afraid they would find out in the class that they really weren’t able to rely on their own bodies for self-defense. Taking a class is an admission that an assault can happen. And testing your body’s ability to defend against attack can feel risky.
Through my company, Esteem, it is my mission to empower everyone I can to walk through the world with less fear and more confidence. I’ve been training girls and women in self-defense for almost 30 years. I firmly believe that physical self-defense training is the most direct route that women can take to prevent assaults. Once girls and women have had the opportunity to practice physical self-defense techniques, they have a new understanding of how capable they actually are to resist an attack from someone who is bigger and stronger than they are. When you combine that physical training with assertive communication techniques, research shows that the rate of both attempted and completed rapes is greatly diminished. A study out of Canada in 2015 showed that women were 63% less likely to be assaulted after completing a comprehensive self-defense course.
It is much easier to send a solid verbal boundary like. “You’re too close. I need you to take a couple of steps back,” when you know that if he doesn’t respect your boundary and continues to threaten you, you know you can physically resist. That’s why I teach women to physical self-defense before we work on improving their verbal self-defense. One skill (physical) brings a higher confidence level for the other (verbal).
It’s never too early or too late to learn self-defense. There are age-appropriate classes for 5 year-olds as well as classes for senior citizens. Esteem works predominantly with teen girls via schools and adult women of all ages in colleges as well as company-sponsored trainings.
We all deserve to feel strong and competent, set clear boundaries, and resist verbal and physical assault, and we need to stand together to make sure that feeling is realized for all of us. You do not have to live in fear and anxiety about what might happen on the way to your car or on your next date if you train to have an assertive mindset and a belief in your body’s inherent strength to protect yourself.
Toward that end, I challenge everyone who reads this to take an empowerment-based women’s self-defense class taught by a female instructor or co-taught by female and male instructors. Encourage friends to take it with you. I promise they will thank you. Peace of mind begins with personal safety so don’t put it off any longer. You deserve to walk through your life with less fear and more confidence.