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Success Story – Power for Women
“Too Powerful for Two or More”
by Gail C., age 58

Late one night when I dragged myself home from my teaching job in the spring of 1985, I laid my briefcase down while I fumbled in my purse for my apartment keys inside the lobby. There was a flutter at the outside door. My imagination began to slowly work, tired as I was, and thoughts of how you should always have your key out played in my head. I remembered again that the street lights had been out.

The door flew open and a young teen came towards me, followed by a second. The second one put his hand over my mouth and then they were out the door with my purse.

I was infuriated. I ran out into the courtyard and screamed my head off.

An upstairs neighbor ran down the stairs. But they were gone.

I felt SO violated. And I was SO angry.

So much so that I finally gave more than just a passing thought to those notices for Chimera* that I had seen, and signed up for the multi-session women’s self-defense class.

I remember being taught how to fight off multiple attackers. How to fend off a group wearing a skirt and lying on the ground. Those images are forever burned into my mind—so much so that I know if I am struck with dementia that my reflexes will automatically respond. Those offenders who think that dotty old woman is an easy mark are in for the surprise of their lives.

How do I know this? Because I’ve had a chance to put it into action twice.

In fact, not long after I had taken the course and moved to another neighborhood, I was crossing Belmont Avenue one day when two friendly males made passing comments to me. The next thing I knew, I was halfway down the block and they were both on me, tugging at my clutch purse. “NO-O-O-O-O” I instinctively screamed at the top of my lungs. Not until they had retreated between buildings did I realize that I had fought them BOTH off.

And I was sitting on my fanny with a sore coccyx that I had landed on. I remember crying and being SO angry. A young man came by, and I asked him to walk me home. I felt so violated, and yet appreciated the kindness of the passerby.

It wasn’t until the second unsuccessful mugging that it began to sink in what Chimera had done.

I was in the subway dowtown and very vulnerable, as I walked along with shoes unbuckled. A lone man asked me if I had a transfer. I answered, “No,” and walked by. I braced myself and hurried up as I heard running footsteps behind me. He knocked me down. I fell forward an landed on my purse, breaking my glasses that were inside it. And I SCREAMED.

I think he was more frightened than I was in that moment. He took off.

I made my way up the stairs to the frantic ticket man and collected myself. Again, I was so angry and felt so violated. But, I had successfully fended off this second attacker.

I can give further testimony to women’s self-defense. Fifteen years ago, I took a workshop on “Passive-Aggressive Self-Defense.” The techniques we were taught were the same that I had learned eleven years before, and as we practiced, my instincts and reflexes reacted exactly on cue. It felt like getting back on a bicycle and riding it.

After those two unsuccessful muggings following the Chimera course, I have never been accosted. I have the feeling that it’s because of the way I carry myself. I am not a fearful person. I work in an area of Gary, Indiana, where my co-workers warn me to be careful as I wait for the bus.

I feel so safe, whereas once I had felt so angry. People are deferential towards me. The Women’s Self-Defense course works. The name has changed from “Chimera” to “Power for Women”, but I can attest to its results 26 years later.

*”Chimera” is the former name of “Power for Women.”


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