There’s a new study out of Canada showing that college students who underwent a 12 hour sexual assault resistance training were far less likely to to be assaulted. More telling, is that they were less likely to be the victims of attempted assault.
Self-defense training works
This study jives with earlier research by the self-defense instruction company, Model Mugging. They surveyed 60,000 of their female students and found that after training (more intense than the Canadian training), 98.3% of their students were able to avoid assaults altogether.
Of those who were assaulted, 97% were able to fight off their attacker, 80% of those were able to use voice and body language alone and did not resort to violence.
Numbers on sexual violence in the US vary, and are difficult to track, because it is an under-reported crime. The most conservative estimates are around 1 in 5 women, and somewhat fewer men, will be the victims of sexual assault in their lifetime. The numbers might be much higher, but this number is still staggering.
Imagine being able to reduce sexual assault incidents from 20% of women to less than 2% of women. Imagine if, of those 2%, sexual predators were only successful 3% of the time. This means a reduction to .06%.
The controversies around teaching women’s self-defense
In the interest of full-disclosure, I do teach a kick-butt women’s self defense class. I started teaching in Boston around the summer of 2000 with my partner when two serial rapists were attacking women in the city. Quite frankly these guys were pissing us off (pardon my French).
Since then I have heard a lot of arguments against training women in self-defense. To be honest, all of them are completely without merit. Most of them are a subtle form of misogyny. Allow me to elaborate:
The quasi feminist argument
In 2014, Miss USA and Tae Kwon Do black-belt, Nia Sanchez, created a stir among some when she dared suggest women train in self defense to help prevent sexual assault. The argument, by some calling themselves feminists, was that this somehow promoted rape-culture. Expecting women to help prevent rape was “victim-blaming.”
I may be male, but I fail to understand how women empowering themselves and taking control of their bodies is anything but feminist. Self-defense training isn’t about shifting blame from criminals, it’s about developing our bodies, minds, and spirits. For women and men, this is a good thing.
And yes, there is something wrong with a culture where sexual assault is so prevalent. We can work against that problem from multiple angles. And a very effective angle is empowering women to stand up for themselves.