The Importance of Self-Defense Training for Sexual Violence Prevention


Women’s self-defense training has been excluded from sexual violence prevention efforts for a variety of reasons, including concerns that it is ineffective, encourages victim blaming, neglects acquaintance assault, and does not target the underlying factors that facilitate sexual violence. In this article, I argue that these critiques are misguided, founded on (1) misunderstandings of self-defense training, (2) stereotypes about gender, and (3) individualistic assumptions about the impact of self-defense.

Further, I assert that empowerment-based self-defense training helps to change the root conditions that allow violence against women to flourish. For all these reasons, and because recent research has built a case for its effectiveness, I argue that women’s empowerment-based self-defense training should be part of any sexual violence prevention effort.

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