Friday, December 10, 2010

Girl(em)Power! Self-Defense

Contact Info:
Reva Rose-Wood

Girl(em)Power is a Phoenix based women’s self-defense institution that teaches and promotes rape prevention and personal protection. The classes and training are geared towards women and are taught with a woman’s perspective.  The organization founder and instructor, Reva Rose-Wood teaches both physical and mental self-defense techniques to women, girls and at-risk populations including women of the Navajo nation and the LGBTQ community. Through her work within our community she makes major strides towards women’s empowerment by raising awareness concerning violence against women, exposing myths surrounding how to respond to this violence, and teaching how to fight back. 

Self-defense for girls and women is becoming a growing necessity in our society. Based on the U.S. Department of Justice statistics, every two and a half minutes a woman is sexually assaulted. College women, in particular, are four times more likely to be sexually assaulted than any other age group. The National College Women Sexual Victimization Study estimated that between 1 in 4 and 1 in 5 college women experience completed or attempted rape during their college career. Sexual assault victims exhibit a variety of psychological symptoms that are similar to those of victims of other types of trauma, such as war and natural disaster. They often experience anxiety, guilt, nervousness, phobias, substance abuse, sleep disturbances, depression, alienation, sexual dysfunction, and aggression. Victims are also at increased risk of future victimization (Fisher, Cullen, & Turner, 2000). The evidence illustrates that violence against women is all too prevalent in our society, which makes prevention and protection topics of immediate significance.

The organization also aspires to expose some of the most common myths surrounding violence against women and girls, and the truths that accompany them. A commonly held belief in our society is that self-defense does not work and that forceful resistance is often dangerous because it provokes an offender to inflict further injury. Surprisingly, statistics overwhelmingly contradict this notion. According to a study conducted by the National Institute of Justice, certain self-defense actions reduce the risk of rape more than 80 percent compared to nonresistance (Kleck & Tark, 2009). The study also found that even when a rape was completed, women who used some form of resistance had better mental health outcomes than those who did not resist. Nevertheless, we are often taught to be compliant in the face of violence and to tolerate these behaviors as a part of our very existence. Reva Rose-Wood describes how these practices and beliefs can be detrimental to our cause. She explains that “The myth that fighting back doesn't work and that girls and women don't stand a chance against men feeds the cycle of violence against women and girls and contributes to fear and predatory violence against females as a whole.” That being said, it is also paramount to not blame those who have been victimized. The only people who are responsible for acts of violence are those who commit acts of violence.

The self-defense institution, Girl(em)Power,  actively engages women in our community with a message of empowerment. As Malcolm X, once said, “It is criminal to teach a man NOT to defend himself when he is a constant victim of brutal attacks.” We as a society are guilty of not teaching women how to defend themselves, though they are the victims of constant brutal attacks. Girl(em)Power aims to teach girls and women to fight back – not only against our attacker, but against the erroneous beliefs surrounding violence against women that have been sold to us as well as against the power dynamic that reinforces our vulnerability.

How ASU students can get involved:

v  Help spread the word by telling your friends about the organization and workshops
v  Raise awareness for violence against women through discussions, forums, and other types of exchange 
v  Host a women’s self-defense workshop for free by contacting Reva Rose-Wood

Works Cited

Fisher, B. S., Cullen, F. T., & Turner, M. G. (2000). The sexual victimization of college women.
National Institute of Justice [Research report]. Retrieved from

Kleck, G., & Tark, J. (2009). Certain self-defense actions can decrease risk. National institute of

United States Department of Justice. (2007). National crime victimization survey [Data file]. Retrieved from

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