February 2018

We hope your 2018 is off to a great start! It's been an exciting time for us - on top of offering our usual public classes, we've been busy bringing IMPACT classes to young people in schools and libraries from Palo Alto to Point Reyes! We're so thrilledl to have these opportunities to help young people find their voice and set healthy boundaries at a young age.

Keep reading to see what else we're up to!

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Look What We've Done!

Dear Community,

Thank you for being a part of the IMPACT community. Your support has meant so much to us this year. Over the past several weeks we have been sharing some inspirational stories from our graduates and now I wanted to share with you some of our accomplishments as an organization (below). I hope you think of these as your accomplishments too.

Also, I wanted to remind you that there are only FIVE MORE DAYS to support us with a 2017 contribution. Your tax-deductible gift will ensure that we can continue our work of building safer communities into the next year and beyond. You will be supporting our efforts to give more scholarships than ever, to support our upcoming suited instructor training, and many more projects we have planned. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO DONATE NOW! I know that together we can build a safer community for everyone.

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Sarah's Story: IMPACT Helped Me Take My Life Back

From as far back as I can remember, I have dealt with harassment from men. I've been assaulted...both as a child and an adult. I was stalked by a neighbor as a child, who would send me letters from next door and follow me any time I was out in the neighborhood. I later found out that at least one of my parents knew. For whatever reason, this was never addressed with the guy and I was left to grow up with a terrifying fear of being watched. The harassment only expanded as I got older. A couple years later, I was again stalked and eventually raped by one of my siblings' friends, who I'd catch following me and later began breaking into my room at night, where I'd wake up to him in my bed. I never told anyone for years. I was scared, I didn't want to make my sibling feel guilty, and I also blamed myself. I think now looking back, since I never saw my parents fight back for my safety...I never really felt like I could fight back for myself and I hated myself for it. 

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Karina's Story: IMPACT Helped Me Find Confidence

I grew up believing the world was too dangerous for a woman to travel alone-- that I was not strong, brave or confident enough to go it alone. Thus, I knew I had to prove myself wrong and push my limits. For 18 months, I backpacked around the world. Alone.

During that time, I had some close calls, both domestically and abroad. Because I had previously trained in several martial art forms including Karate and Muay Thai I was able to cultivate a “don’t mess with me” attitude. But it wasn’t until I participated in IMPACT’s classes that my internal confidence and skills matched my external demeanor. IMPACT’s full-force self-defense classes blew everything else out of the water. 

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Marya's Story: IMPACT Saved My Life

I first took my Basics class in my early 20’s. I feel that it literally saved my life. It has not only helped me in potentially dangerous situations, but began a life-changing journey of healing for me.

When I was 5 years old, I suffered sexual abuse from an older man in my family's church. When women are abused as children, we often direct that harm inward as we become teens and young adults. That is my story. Self-hatred, self-sabotage, drug and alcohol abuse... and I often had unclear sexual boundaries with others.

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You Are Not Alone

Dear friends, 

If you have been feeling traumatized by the national narrative about sexual harassment and assault this election season, know that you are not alone. If you fear for your personal safety or the safety of your loved ones because of the pre and post-election hate speech and hate crimes, know that you are not alone. 

As Gavin de Becker says of fear, "you have the gift of a brilliant internal guardian that stands ready to warn you of hazards and guide you through risky situations." 

At IMPACT, we talk about turning this "gift of fear" into courage. 

As part of the IMPACT family, you are part of a community that is empowered to stand up to any form of sexual harassment, coercion or violence. And we hope that you draw some comfort and security from this community and from your training.

We also invite you to be courageous as a bystander, to say NO to violence or harassment you may witness against others. While we teach boundary setting and self-defense techniques at IMPACT, we remind you that the courage and strength you show are things you already had. And it is the courage and strength that you show that inspires us every day.

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Free One-Hour Intro March 4th!


It's our first time presenting a class at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center (we are SO excited to be there), and we'd love to have you there with us to show your support (and get a little practice at the same time!). 

Please come join us! 

WHEN: 7pm, March 4th

WHERE: 388 9th St, Ste 290 (More details here)

What Do YOU Mean, Justin?

Say what you will about Justin Bieber, he can sing a catchy tune, but it wasn't until I sang along with "What Do You Mean" on the car radio for the seventh time that I rewound the lyrics in my mind, tilted my head like my border collie does, and went, "Huh?"

When you nod your head yes
But you wanna say no
What do you mean?
When you don't want me to move
But you tell me to go
What do you mean?

Hey, Justin, protip: if she wants to say no, she means no. If she tells you to go, she means go now. When you follow that up with a warning, "Better make up your mind," we'd like to suggest that she already did. 

I've counted four official videos from the Beebs for this song, but the most popular one is also the most troubling. Justin meets John Leguizamo (?!) in the dark and pays him a wad of cash to KIDNAP his girlfriend (the one giving him those troubling and difficult signs).


These nice fellows throw her in the back of a car, taking her God only knows where. (Oh, Justin, you may not know this but statistics for assault victims transported a secondary location are dismally low. At IMPACT, we train students to never comply with a demand to move to a secondary location.)

      Cuddling with boo in the trunk 

But never fear! It turns out they're tied up in a creepy warehouse (as if there's any other kind).


Here Justin saves the day and pressures her into jumping several stories into the dark, where they land on a fun bounce-house cushion. The girl is appropriately grateful, has fun at the skating party that bumps off, and, presumably, later gives Justin the reward she was so cruelly withholding earlier in the evening. 

       All this, for me? 

To recap: Justin is told No but is confused. In order to convince her he means her no harm, he pays men to traumatize her in order to play her hero and look good in comparison. In a moment of intimacy, when she is most frightened, he asks her "Do you trust me?" With no other choice but certain death, she decides she has to. 

Rape culture has never been so catchy. 

        Thanks, bro!


Empowerment Self-Defense IS Social Justice

A guest post by Julie Harmon, Executive Director of IMPACT Safety in Columbus, Ohio

Empowerment self-defense is about adding more tools to our safety toolbox. More tools equals more choices.

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Meet Our Suits in Training!

Last year, IMPACT Bay Area taught 226 teens, young adults, and adults full-force empowerment self-defense with only 3 suited instructors. Think about that for a minute.

On average, each instructor took hits from more than 75 students, and each student hits a suited instructor hundreds of times in each class. Only three instructors have been taking thousands of hits for the sake of empowering our students to be safe and live fuller lives.

What could we do with seven more instructors? We could train 525 MORE students next year, doubling our reach! 

But we can't do it if we don't get their training funded. It's imperative that we raise the $35,000 needed by the end of the summer (we're currently only at $7,000), or those 525 students won't have padded suits to kick and hit. 

$50 will buy a pair of overalls and pay for needed alterations
$150 will buy a helmet 
$250 will buy a chest protector or a groin protector
$400 will pay 1 trainee to go through their first supervised phase
$1,000 will pay for 1 trainee to go through their final supervised phases
$5,000 will sponsor 1 new instructor!

Please consider supporting our new instructors today! 

*Huge thanks to the Emmy-winning filmmaker Paige Bierma for the amazing short!