“Come on, Lucy. I’m your boyfriend. This is what you’re supposed to do.” I wanted to say no. I wanted to push him off. I’m a loud, confident, spunky young girl who has never had a problem speaking up. But then, with my boyfriend who was an older guy, I assumed he would take care of me. And he assumed I would play the role of a girlfriend who did whatever he wanted. It wasn’t right. And I didn’t know how to rewrite my story, how to realize what I could have done, until I came to Impact.

It’s the old adage that every confident young woman wants to believe: I’d know what to do. For some reason, we all think that a primal instinct will kick in– and if it doesn’t, well, aim for where it hurts. I had never seriously thought about my personal safety, until one day my history teacher brought it up. He asked me, “When was the last time you were genuinely afraid for your personal safety and wellbeing?” Well, I realized, yesterday when I was running I got catcalled and the jerk just wouldn’t lay off. He followed me for about a quarter of a mile. My teacher said that I shouldn’t have to worry about that, ever. What would happen if the creep got out of his car and decided to teach me a lesson for not listening to him? Would I, a 120 pound 16-year-old girl, be able to fight for my life? I realized: I am putting myself in danger by not knowing how to protect myself. It’s like learning to drive safely– self-defense is as big a part of anyone’s life as being in the right lane on the 405. My teacher prompted me to do Impact Self Defense and Safety. My sister had done it and my best friend was an assistant- so why not go to the 5 hour intro class and give it a shot? I took it lightly– yeah, okay, I’ll go pretend to beat up some dude and feel “better”. Right.

But those five hours changed my life.

I was hooked. I was free. I don’t know how many of you have actually yelled before, but it is liberating! The first exercise in the workshop was to just yell “NO!” It’s shocking how everyone struggles to find their voice at first and feels embarrassed. But by the end of the class, we were yelling like we were really in a fight. I wanted more.

I signed up for the Basics class and I have not been the same since. Impact has taught me more than I can ever explain. I feel safe going out. I know how to respond. I am aware of my surroundings and comfortable asserting myself in situations where I might need to ward off a predator.

My favorite part is that Impact is not your average self-defense workout. My friend went to a self-defense class that was based on Krav Maga, and all she learned was that the knee is a weak spot so it makes a good target. No practice, no strategy, no fights. Just advice that she probably won’t remember to use when she is in a real life, adrenalized fight scenario. At Impact, we were taught real scenarios. When we go on the mat to practice a fight, we are hitting as hard as we can. And our wonderful muggers are fighting back. Hard. The fights aren’t scripted– there’s no ‘this is how you would do it’– it’s all about training your body to respond like it would in a real fight. It’s scrappy and real. The attacks are real and I use full-force, as does my mugger. When I knock out my mugger, I know that if the situation had happened in real life, I would have ended a fight. Now, I win every single time.

And verbal strategies. Oh my gosh, verbal strategies! I cannot stress how important it was for me to learn this. I am so used to being put in a box where I must apologize and conform. But being able to yell “NO!” when I feel like I’m threatened? Liberating.

It is never too late to set a boundary. I realized that there are so many times when I said yes when I wanted to say no, and stayed quiet when I should have spoken my truth.

Thank you, Impact, for helping to empower me.

*You can find more information about Impact and the various class options, visit: ImpactPersonalSafety.com

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