According to national statistics, 1 in 4 women has experienced domestic violence in her lifetime. Last year, 53 deaths here in Washington State were a direct result of domestic violence, according to the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
“Your number one risk for assault if you’re a female in America – your number one risk for violence is from a current or former intimate partner,” says Joanne Factor, a self-defense instructor who owns Strategic Living Seattle. She teaches more than just how to fight off an attacker. Factor explains, “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.”
Factor says that teaching self- defense for “stranger danger” is a lot easier than instructing women on how to engage someone they’re close too.” Once you get into intimate partners, it becomes more dicey. 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, ” Factor explains. She also warns 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. Factor shows Washington’s Most Wanted’s Parella Lewis a few techniques, instructing,“Okay, so you’re trying to strangle me so what I’m going to do is bring one hand over, one hand under, foot up and then throw you off.” 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 continues. “And it’s not just using my arms, I’m not doing this. Notice I’m doing my full body weight.” Lewis adds, “You’re pulling down so that you have no other choice- your hands follow” Factor agreed, saying “right.”
And using your voice is a great way to disarm an attacker and adds strength to your strike.
“Using your voice really loud, really strong increases your adrenaline level and it also- by tightening your abs and doing a nice exhale- it also makes that palm heel stronger,” Factor explains.
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.”