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Screenshot from “Violence Against Women” by Hannah Kugel © 2020 | Used with permission of the artist

Over the past week, two separate women that I’m teaching self defense to asked me, “what about the eyes?” They had had previous training where they were taught that a good form of self defense is to try and gauge the attacker’s eyes out, but both of these women were concerned that they wouldn’t be able to make themselves do that, if they needed to. One of the women also mentioned she had been told to splay her keys between her fingers if she’s walking anywhere and feels unsafe.

Two days later, my friend Hannah published a beautiful, intense video she had made for the International Day for Ending Violence Against Women, which this year fell on 25 November — which also happened to be Thanksgiving Day in the United States. The coincidence is ironic because, on a day in the US that is meant to celebrate the joining of two cultures and two peoples to build one great nation, one might also point out that Native American women are murdered and sexually assaulted at rates as high as 10 times the average in the United States. …


Suicide, addiction and abuse.

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Photo by Ivan Torres on Unsplash

Recently my feet swelled up beyond anything normal from the heat we’ve been having here in Berlin. I was concerned, so made a doctor’s appointment, but of course I had to consult Dr Google as well. One of the causes of sudden feet swelling is a blood clot in the leg, which scared me of course, because that can kill you. So the night I found that out, I was brushing my teeth before bed, looking at myself in the mirror and thinking, am I gonna see you tomorrow?

Then I realized how much I look forward to seeing myself every day. I don’t mean in a vain way, but rather that I’ve been taking it for granted that I always would, and now here was (a totally imaginary) possibility that I wouldn’t. …


Understanding Feminist Economics

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Photo by Alora Griffiths on Unsplash

Yesterday, somebody on Twitter tweeted “No mail. No healthcare. No jobs. No free or fair elections. Banned from the rest of the world. Our taxes blown on giveaways to corrupt corporations and institutions. Police violence against anyone who challenges this arrangement. We’re living in a failed state, no doubt about it.”

This caught my eye, because although the tweeter was referring to the US, the statement can also be applied to Belarus, the Ukraine, Poland, Brazil, Turkey, Russia, China and Hong Kong, and as of last week, the UK — specifically in relation to the A-Levels scandal that is applying algorithms to student data and, like the famous Hogwart’s hat, sorting students into universities based not on merit or grades, but on demographics like post codes, ethnic backgrounds, and household income levels, in many cases rescinding university places already granted to people of color in particular, and basically upholding a white, patriarchal status quo. …


How my martial arts skills helped me build an app against impossible odds

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Me during my Ninjutsu Shodan test (first level black belt) at Studio City Martial Arts in Los Angeles, CA, 2006 | photo by Stanley Appleman

It’s been a big week for Pretty Deadly Self Defense this past week, and while our Sunday Cuppa feature is usually dedicated to more in-depth discussions about what’s going on in the world, we need to take a step back and appreciate just how momentous our accomplishment this week really is.

Two years ago, we decided to design an app. The idea was to make self defense accessible to people who don’t have access to regular self defense classes: due to work or study hours, type of job, racial, religious, gender stigma, location, or disability barriers. …


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Demonstration Against Racism, Berlin 2020 | Photo by Susie Kahlich

The American Army vet, actor, writer and producer Tony Estese posted a short video by his friend Devon Khan to Instagram the other day, sharing Mr Khan’s thoughts about racism as it applies to police brutality. You can watch the whole video here: https://bit.ly/30dD47f

He notes, “we can’t be divided on this issue.” And he’s right.

Tony is an old friend from high school, but I don’t personally know Mr. Khan (I’ve shared his video with his and While I’m actually for abolishing the police altogether, Mr. Khan said two things in the video that really got to me, and that have been occupying my thoughts for the past few days. …


After surviving a violent assault, I wish my support network had helped me in these ways instead of following traditional support advice.

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Jessica Delp for Unsplash

Over the course of my 10 years of teaching self defense to violence and trauma survivors, and drawing on my personal experience as a survivor of violence, I wanted to share some of the things I’ve learned as well, and offer guidance on how to provide a safe space for listening, strength, and support for someone who is the victim of sexual assault.

Although I could logically accept that the attack was not my fault, I still struggled with toxic feelings on an emotional level.

First, let me tell you what it felt like inside my skin after surviving a violent assault, as a way to illustrate what it may be like for the person who is confiding in you. Although I could logically accept what my therapist and my support network reassured me of, that the attack was not my fault and there was nothing to be ashamed of, I still struggled with the feelings below on an emotional…


Living through domestic abuse during COVID 19: Strategies for Survival

Written by Susie Kahlich and Eve Parmiter

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Gabriel Benois via Unsplash

If you live in an environment of abuse, but are forced through quarantine or social distancing to stay home, the situation at home may be more volatile as panic, anxiety and the frustration of staying in a smaller area mounts. What do you do when home is not a safe place to be?

If staying away from home is not an option for you, here are some techniques to keep yourself as physically safe as possible until the current situation has passed:

1/ Make a plan. You do have a right to protect yourself, and you deserve basic safety.

Create a plan for yourself with “incident” markers that activate steps for you. For example, if the volatile person goes from screaming to punching a wall, that is your marker to call a friend for help. You know better than anyone what those markers are for you, but it helps to write them down into a clear guideline that you can easily remember when it’s hard to think. …


Useful tools for navigating life.

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Photo by Alexandre Debiève on Unsplash

Have you ever noticed the difference between someone who warns you about the world by telling you to change your behavior, and someone who gives you tools to navigate the world?

Yesterday I gave a free last-minute self defense workshop, and the subject of creeps came up. You know the kind — the office creep, the one creep in a group of friends, the creep at the local coffee shop. We were talking about how creeps are often a creep only to one person, their creepy behavior covert so only their target sees it and no one else believes it. And we were talking about creeps often find their targets by testing boundaries, first with probing questions, then covert touching or standing to too close, and of course finally by escalating hijinx in creepiness, to see how far they can go before their target cries wolf. …


Systems of Abuse in Structures of Power

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World Economic Forum 2020 | WEC Fair Use

I grew up with an emotionally abusive parent. I was the target. I believe there were a lot of reasons that caused this parent to be emotionally abusive to me, but that’s really not my concern. My concern is how those reasons manifested in abuse towards me, how I learned about the world through this abuse, including how to survive. The emotional abuse I experienced, formed my reality, and my definition of love — as it will for any child, who can only learn that concept from their caregivers — so when I was 18 and went out into the world, I sought out partners who were also emotionally abusive, in order to maintain my perception of reality. The abuse that I experienced from my partners was, to me, totally normal. …


Poems from Berlin’s Wicked Poetry Slam: Rage

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Photo by Lacie Slezak on Unsplash

The term “date rape” was used first in 1975 in a research paper by Susan Brownmiller, and was used again in 1980 Mademoiselle magazine article, and 1982 in MS magazine, although the Miriam Webster dictionary attributes the term to enter common usage in 1984, when it appeared in the novel Money: A Suicide Note, by Martin Amis.

Leave it to a man to make it common.

Anyway, when I wrote this piece in 1992, the term was not yet in wide use. otherwise I guess I wouldn’t have been asking:

this may sound like a funny question,
but did you rape me? i know that when
i woke up you were gone, and i had no
one to ask. i remember that the last thing
i said to you was “let’s just sleep.” and then
i remember waking up and you were on top
of me and inside of me, and you got off,
and out. you were with me because i needed
a friend. i know i let you come home with me,
but i needed someone to rant and rave to,
and you offered. i know i was all dressed up,
but it was a holiday. i know i got into bed
naked with you, but it was 8:30 in the morning.
i had been up all night, doing drugs and drinking
and i could only think of getting into bed. i didn’t know
i would have to wear protective clothing. i know i let you
kiss me, and i kissed you back, but i kiss all of my friends
back. And i know — i distinctly remember —
five separate moments when I said “no.
i don’t want to have sex with you.”
The last thing I heard you say was
“it’s nicer just to hold someone,” and i closed my eyes
in trust. And then i woke up and you were on top of me
and inside of me, and i said “i really don’t want this.”
When I woke up and you were gone, i felt sick.
I was going to call you. I was going to tell you how angry
I was that you not only took advantage of me,
but you took advantage of my trust in you.
And then i wanted to forget about it. “Oh, it’s only so-and-so,”
i said to myself. And i was naked, and I did kiss you back.
And I did say “no.” Five times.
So maybe it was may fault.
Except that I said “no.” Five times. Five “No’s.”
Now my memory is on constant rewind. I wake up
and you are on top of me and inside of me, and I scream
“NO! NO! NO!”
You are gone and I want to vomit. i want to cry.
You are still here, in my memory, on top of me
and inside of me and I want to vomit, I want to cry.
But you didn’t use force, and you are someone i know
and i didn’t fight back — I always thought I would fight back.
So I am angry with myself for being such a sucker
and angry with myself for thinking I am such a sucker
and i can’t cry because i don’t know how to feel.
You have scorned my trust and my friendship and
the rights I claim over my own body. You Have Scorned ME,
YES, AND HELL HATH NO FURY SUCH AS I.
SO THE NEXT TIME I SEE YOU, I WILL PROCLAIM
MYSELF SATAN AND YOU A LOST SOUL, AN DEAL
YOU ONE SWIFT DAMAGING KICK TO THE GROIN
WITH MY STEEL-TOE BOOTS. I’LL PULL YOU UP BY
THE SCRUFF OF THE NECK AND ASK YOU, “SO YOU
LIKE TO FUCK GIRLS WHO ARE PASSED OUT, HUH?
WHY — SO THEY CAN’T FIGHT BACK?” I’LL LAND MY
FIST SQUARELY IN YOUR FACE, BLACKENING YOUR
EYES, BREAKING YOUR NOSE, CUTTING YOUR LIP
AND KNOCKING YOU TO THE GROUND. I’LL KNEEL
BESIDE YOU AND IN THE SAME GENTLE VOICE I
USED TO SAY “NO” — GENTLE BECAUSE I DIDN’T
WANT TO HURT YOU — I’LL WHISPER “IT’S STILL
RAPE ASSHOLE
” AND I’LL LEAVE MY FOOTPRINTS
IN YOUR BLOOD AND RUN TO THE RIVER TO THE
RIVER TO THE RIVER.
And I’ll sit down and cry. …

About

Susie Kahlich

Producer and host of the bi-monthly podcast, Artipoeus: Art You Can Hear, and founder of Pretty Deadly Self Defense. www.artipoeus.com / www.prettydeadly.org

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