Hundreds of women who have experienced violence both in and outside of the home are developing their self-defence skills in free classes that hand back a sense of security and confidence.

The grassroots initiative was put together by 22-year-old Australian National University (ANU) student Caitlin Figueiredo, who drew on her own experiences to devise the program. After successfully defending herself from an attack a decade ago, she created Jasiri Australia with the mission of preventing violence against women and children.

The Jasiri self-defence classes, which started in early December, teach women that you do not need a black belt to defend yourself. Instead the focus is on imparting basics.

“We use our speed and we also use quick points, so our vitals, and the centre line is a great point to attack,” Jasiri instructor Lorna Munro said.

“My dad got me into self-defence because we were going to be moving to a rougher neighbourhood and he just wanted me to be able to protect myself.”

But Ms Munro said self-defence was about more than punching and kicking.

“Always look confident — studies have shown that if you are looking to the ground or you don’t look confident you are an easy target,” Ms Munro said.

At the first class, Ms Figueiredo said she was on a mission to end violence against women and children. “We are here to unlock [the] fearless potential of Australians who have been living with abuse for all their lives,” she said.

At least one in three women experience sexual or physical violence in their lifetime, according to the United Nations. “50 per cent of ANU students have been sexually harassed — that’s my university — and 94 per cent of people who are harassed they never report it,” Ms Figueiredo said.

More than 50 women who have experienced gender-based violence have already registered interest in attending the free self-defence classes, with Jasiri Australia committing to keep all information on the wait list strictly confidential.

“Our goal is to train 600 women and 300 survivors around the ACT and hopefully with the community support we can also branch out and start to reach out to rural and other regions around Australia,” she said.

Ms Figueiredo said the classes were an important source of confidence for women.

“I have the power to make sure that I am okay, that I am safe and next time someone tries to get me, like they better watch out because I can take them down,” she said.

 

source: ABC News

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