SEATTLE — According to national statistics, one in four women has experienced domestic violence in her lifetime, and last year 53 deaths in Washington state were a direct result of domestic violence, according to the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
“Your No. 1 risk for assault if you’re a female in America – your No. 1 risk for violence — is from a current or former intimate partner,” Joanne Factor said.
Factor is a self-defense instructor who owns Strategic Living Seattle, but she teaches more than just how to fight off an attacker.
“First, I will start off with physical skills and then I’ll begin segueing into things like acquaintance rape and sexual assault. Then I’ll work on different ploys and manipulations that people use and then onto domestic violence, dating violence,” she said.
Factor said that teaching self-defense for “stranger danger” is a lot easier than instructing women on how to engage someone they’re know.
“Once you get into intimate partners, it becomes more dicey,” she said. “When you’re dealing with a stranger or an acquaintance, the attacker is not necessarily committed to you as the target however, once you’re in that intimate relationship, that changes completely. ”She also warned that makes things more dangerous.
“What we try to tell women in abusive relationships is if it looks like it’s going to get physical, try to protect your head. Try to protect your brain and your eyes and stuff like that. If it looks like it’s going to get physical try to be in a room with less hard surfaces.”
But in a life or death situation, fighting back may be your only option.
“OK, so you’re trying to strangle me — what I’m going to do is bring one hand over, one hand under, foot up and then throw you off,” she said.
And using your body weight against the attacker is key during a struggle.
“I’m going to bring my arms up, I’m going to take a step back with one foot and I’m going to drop my body weight,” Factor said. “And it’s not just using my arms, notice that I’m doing my full body weight.”
Using your voice is also a great way to disarm an attacker and adds strength to your strike.
“Use your voice really loud, really strong. It increases your adrenaline level and it also — by tightening your abs and doing a nice exhale — it makes that palm heel stronger,” Factor said.
But she adds that the most important part of self-defense is knowing the warning signs ahead of time and walking away.
“You should be able to live the life you want to live. And you should be able to recognize when somebody else means to control you, and you have the right to tell those people, ‘No’.”