Myths of Women's Physicality
By Graciela Casillas
Several years ago, I was asked to lecture on the "Myths of Women's Physicality" for the Multi-Cultural Issues and Concerns Conference at the West Virginia Graduate
College. I also attended various workshops which addressed topics ranging from "The Need for Diversity Training in Schools, the Community, and Workplace" to "
Cultural Awareness in Expressive Therapy." As I listened to several Professors speak on topics primarily relating to education, I began to question whether this was an
appropriate forum for my subject. I wondered what I, a martial artist, had to offer them since their primary concern was devising ways to implement multi-cultural
programs in schools and the community.
I had been paired with an ACLU representative who was to speak on "West Virginia Women's Issues." Nervously and feeling a bit out of place, I sat and listened to her
talk about the welfare reform bill and other women's concerns. In closing her presentation, she commented that she was interested in what I had to say because it was
her belief that women innately believe that they cannot defend themselves against male attackers. At that moment I realized why I needed to be there and why what I
had to say was important-her comment voiced the most important myth concerning women's physicality. Certainly, if untrained, a woman's chance of surviving an
assault quickly diminishes. However, with proper training, women can successfully learn to defend themselves by developing attributes such as speed, agility,
elusiveness and explosiveness. Women can also learn to use impact and edge weapons as effective equalizers against a larger and stronger assailant.
Martial arts were founded based on the premise that a smaller weaker person should be able to defend him/herself against a greater adversary. Throughout history,
women have proven that they are more than capable of becoming proficient in the combative arts and have played a significant role in shaping the world with their
physical prowess. As martial artists we need only to study our history to find women who created and advanced the arts. In Northern China, the walls of the Shaolin
Temple where monks practiced meditation and kung fu had fallen to the hands of the enemy. However, Ng Mui, a Buddhist nun, escaped the destruction and moved into
the mountains where she continued to practice her art. A young girl, Nim Wing Chun, desperately sought her out in hopes that Ng Mui would teach her to defend
herself. Nim Wing Chun, whose name meant "flowering springtime," was being forced into marriage. She believed that if she could learn to fight she could gain control
of her life. Ng Mui suggested that she agree to marry the man only if he could defeat her. After extensive training Nim Wing Chun triumphed over her undesirable suitor
and won her freedom.
Yim Wing Chun continued to practice the art, and Ng, before her death encouraged Chun to keep the art alive by teaching it to others who could benefit. She bestowed
the name of "Wing Chun" to the style which thousands of martial artists, including the late Bruce Lee, have since learned.
In more recent times, the late Kali Grand Master Floro Villabrille spoke to me of his personal encounter with Princess Josefina, who lived in Gundan, a small Filipino
village in Samar. As the Chief's daughter, she was well versed in the art of war. Her vision impaired by severe cataracts, she was almost completely blind, yet her
sensitivity was so great that, according to Villabrille, she could sense if he silently switched his weapon from one hand to another. Villabrille credited much of his
knowledge and skill to the time spent with Princess Josefina.
In Arabia, the women of the "hashashin" (assassin) were so fierce in the fighting arts that the fearful French gave them the name "daughters of death." The French
Foreign Legion, British Soldiers, and explorers, all known for their nerve, courage and daily facing of death took every precaution to avoid these women who were
experts not only at extracting information but also slaying upon command. These are only a few examples which attest to women's ability to learn and excel in combative
arts. However, if you take notice, I am certain that you will find stories of bravery everywhere, not only in history books but also as near to you as your sister or mother,
Further highlighting women's abilities to be strong and powerful are recorded incidents in which a woman has virtually lifted a vehicle off her dying child. This example is
a testimony of the potential women posses. Training can aid women in becoming more in tune with emotions that can serve as a motivator in less lethal situations. Self
defense classes should encourage women and build their confidence by focusing on developing attributes which will enable them to fight back without hesitation.
In 1980 I began studying with Sifu Dan Inosanto. Our training blended concepts from the Filipino martial arts, wing chun, Jun Fan kick boxing and whatever other art Sifu
Dan was exploring at the time. I remember at times feeling frustrated and even wanting to quit. Although I was a world champion in boxing and kick boxing, working with
weapons and learning wing chun were foreign to me, yet, I believed doing so would increase my options if ever assaulted. Furthermore, training at a school where 90%
of the students were men was also difficult-at times I felt I was not taken seriously or I was patronized, then there were those who would not dare allow a women to get a
good shot in. I tried to keep up in all aspects of the training. However, I eventually realized that in order to survive the sparring sessions, I would have to cultivate my
speed, and explosiveness. I knew if I tried to go toe to toe with them, I had no chance because they would over power me. Although some of the men in class
encouraged me, others told me I should stick to boxing because I could never excel in wing chun--it required sensitivity which according to my training partner, I did not
possess. Now, wasn't that ironic considering that the art was founded by a woman!
Because I had never worked with weapons, learning escrima was also a challenge, Fortunately, when I felt discouraged, I could recall my teacher and mentor Sifu
Inosanto who often encouraged me by saying that escrima was a perfect art for women who in fact, made better students because they were less ego involved and more
flexible and sensitive.
I have tried to learn from other women's experiences in order to develop myself through training and to prepare other women for violent encounters. I have always
believed that if women hundreds of years ago were learning how to defend themselves, there is no reason why I or any other women cannot learn. Yim Wing Chun
spent six months learning from Ng Mui's system. She made various modifications to Ng's system her focal point being speed and linear motion rather than power and
strength. She devised "chi sao" (sticky hands) which develops sensitivity to an opponent rather than emphasizing clashing and strength.
Sijo (founder) James DeMile, one of Bruce Lee's training partners from his original group in Seattle, continues to teach modern wing chun do today. According to
DeMile, an innovative martial artist in his own right, women are more that capable of excelling in the arts. Women have the potential to knock out an assailant regardless
of size if taught correctly, power and strength should not be issues. In fact DeMile stated that women have a better chance of becoming proficient at wing chun than men
because women tend to be more supple and emotionally explosive.
The problem with most martial arts schools which offer self defense classes, according to DeMile, is that women are not being effectively trained, "Women lack natural
fighting aggression," and he feels very strongly that martial arts can be very misleading. Women do not learn enough to be able to respond to an attack with
spontaneity. If they are unable to react spontaneously, they will not be able to fight back effectively. Self defense programs should be designed to develop basic self
defense skills. Techniques should be direct, economical and explosive.
The idea that women are not capable of effectively fighting back against a larger assailant is a myth! Attributes such as agility, fluidity, sensitivity, and speed come
naturally to women. Muscle mass and power may be important in hand to hand combat, but, not necessarily when using an impact or edge weapon. A women's ability
to employ a weapon as an effective equalizer is contingent upon her understanding of body mechanics, leverage, torque, timing, speed, momentum, target selection all
principles which can be taught. Whether faced with lethal or non-lethal force women can, if trained properly learn to fight back with power and conviction and
successfully defend themselves.
Women Can Fight Back
If confronted by a stronger and larger assailant, what sort of strategy can a woman use in order to offset the disadvantage of size? Strategy is defined as a
“plan of action or a process by which a goal is achieved.” Tactics are the physical elements of strategy utilized to carry out the process. Tactics and strategy
work hand-in-hand when a confrontation with a larger attacker becomes an unfortunate reality.
A strategic plan of action, therefore, can become the necessary equalizer when confronted with a much larger and stronger attacker. In such a situation several
considerations must be taken into account. First, if the attacker is indeed stronger, a response based on strength alone would not be a wise decision. In order to
successfully defend oneself, a strategy must be devised to put the assailant at a disadvantage.
In order to respond effectively, certain elements should be taken into consideration. Many women think that because they are smaller than their assailant, they
have to use muscle; they neglect the fact that body mechanics could give them the power required to stop an attack.
Tactics could include utilizing the strongest parts of the body, since the usual methods may not work against a larger individual. For example, a rear-leg round
kick delivered with the instep of the foot may hurt an assailant of equal or smaller statute, but the same kick would probably just bounce off or be absorbed by a
much bigger assailant. In order to increase the kick’s effectiveness, two adjustments should be made. First, modify the technique by making contact with the
shin rather than the instep. The shin is stronger, can deliver more power, and can absorb more energy than the instep, which has many tiny bones that can easily
be injured. Second, adjust the target. Instead of aiming at the stomach, learn to attack alternative targets such as the knees and groin. Once you decide to
retaliate, striking these hypersensitive areas can be more effective.
If you are striking pressure points, only attack those which are obvious and have little muscle surrounding them, such as points in the neck and throat. Nerve
strikes can be very effective because they do not require a great deal of skill or strength. It is important to remember that pressure-point tactics do not work
against everyone. Some people have a very high tolerance level or are not physically sensitive to nerve strikes, especially if they are under the influence of
The objective of a larger person is usually to hit, grab and hold, overpowering the smaller person so he can strike freely without being hit. The smaller person
can utilize evasive tactics, low line attacks and environmental weapons such as a chair, fire extinguisher, stick and so on. If distance cannot be maintained, an
attack visual area until an opening is created allowing you to escape.
Developing the ability to strike specific nerves can be very beneficial. The shock created by a powerful pressure-point strike can stop an assailant long enough
to allow the defender to disengage and flee.
To be effective, nerve strikes must be executed with some degree of power; simply applying gradual pressure with the fingers will rarely get the job done.
Furthermore, if you cannot strike the point swiftly and must search for the target, you are in trouble.
One easily accessible pressure-point target is the common peroneal nerve located in the thigh, which can be effectively attacked with the shin or knee. An
elbow strike to the brachial plexus origin on the side of the neck can stun or stop an individual. The fingers can be used to apply painful pressure to the
hypoglossal nerve on the neck. Strikes to any of these nerves will stop an attacker by causing motor dysfunction without causing permanent damage.
Would-be victims, regardless of their size, should always be aware of their surrounding and should pre-assess any self defense situation, looking for
environmental weapons, escape routes, etc. The defender’s objective is to counterattack to vulnerable areas such as nerve points, and create an opening for a
follow-up strike or an escape.
Defending against someone larger and stronger demands maximizing all available skills, knowing what tools to use for each target, and demonstrating to your
attacker that you have the desire to survive and willingness to meet the challenge.
There is no ordinary way to do an extraordinary task. In the final analysis, fighting a larger attacker demands maximizing all available skills, knowing what
tools to use for each target and psychologically lulling your attacker through deception and surprise.
AWARENESS: THE KEY TO PREVENTING ASSAULTS
Developing personal protection skills requires mental as well as physical training. It is the consensus among personal protection experts that, on the average, most
assaults could have been prevented if the victim would have been able to do pre-assault assessment. Pre-assault assessment refers to a state of mind whereby the
individual is alert and has the ability to recognize a potentially dangerous situation. Through mental conditioning, one comes to realize that awareness, or observing for
a purpose, is the key to assault prevention.
Law enforcement trainers use a color-code system to assess the 4 different stages of awareness:
White: White refers to a blank state of mind and this lack of awareness is dangerous. Functioning in white means you are spaced out and totally oblivious to your
surroundings. For example, have you ever left a market, arms loaded up with grocery bags, and instinctively walked toward your car without even glancing up? If you
are mentally preoccupied and fail to notice your surroundings, you are functioning in white. Yellow: Yellow represents caution. In this state of consciousness, the
individual is alert, yet not overanxious or paranoid. This is where pre-assault assessment takes place. The individual is observing and monitoring his surroundings. For
example, as you leave the market, you now assess the area for anything unusual. Red: Red is a state where reaction is required. When you are in a red state, a
confrontation is about to begin. Someone may be approaching you in a threatening manner. You must consider your options and make choices. Black: Black refers to
action. The threat is real, the attack is in progress, suddenly you find yourself reacting to the attack and fighting back.
Using this color-code principle can help train your mind to deal with a situation. Thinking in terms of color makes you conscious of being alert. You will also find that
when you are not alert, you will catch yourself by thinking of the color white. It is important to understand that you may go from white to black in a matter of seconds.
Assault situations do not necessarily escalate in a progressive manner. Ideally, yellow is the best state to be in. If you are alert, you will be able to assess the situation
by recognizing danger signs.
Some signs to look for include; Body language; Learn to observe how people carry their bodies. For example, if someone is making you feel uncomfortable, or is
behaving strange, observe them closely. Are his hands where you can see them? Is he concealing something in his overcoat? When observing a potentially
dangerous person, watching the eyes can be a giveaway. They usually fall within three categories: 1) the thousand-mile stare, where the individual pretends to stare
off into the distance and refuses to make eye contact; 2) the nervous look, where a person quickly shifts his eyes away from you, refusing to make eye contact; and 3)
the glare, in which the person stares at you, making eye contact in an attempt to intimidate you. Sound; your awareness should extend to unusual sounds. Tune into
voices around you because a conflict can often be avoided by taking note of the escalation of voices. Angry, emotional voices can be a warning that trouble is brewing.
Environment; Awareness requires observation of your surroundings. If it is necessary for you to walk home from school or work, be aware of what streets are the
safest. A lack of awareness could cause you to innocently walk through troubled turf.
Cover versus concealment; Environmental awareness calls for understanding the difference between cover and concealment. Concealment means hiding behind
something; it protects you if the assailant does not know where you are. Cover conceals and protects you. If you are walking home and someone drives toward you
shooting a gun, do you hide behind a tin trashcan, or do you run behind a tree trunk? The trashcan may conceal you, but if a round hits it you will not be protected.
The tree serves as cover, because it will absorb the round, preventing it from hitting you. Understanding the difference between cover and concealment can save your
Target denial; One of the most basic principles of prevention is target denial. If, through observation, you assess that trouble is about to break out, leave the area,
simply remove yourself from the situation. Say you are in a nightclub or restaurant and a person who has had too much to drink starts picking a fight with you. Your
initial response may be to react to his comments. Instead, put your ego aside and leave the establishment. Simply don’t be there, that is target denial. Awareness
comes from active mental training. Learn what your options are in various situations. Use visualization techniques to prepare mentally. Combat on any level is not fun;
people get hurt, and people die. Being mentally alert and knowing what to look for can make all the difference. So remember,”awareness is the key to prevention.”
Who is a Rapist?
Some people stereotype a rapist as someone that; Sweats profusely - is hooked on drugs - is out of work - is a minority - only comes out at night - as an extensive
criminal record - never completed the seventh grade - has scratches or scars on his face and hands from past attacks.
Forget about your perceptions if they match those above. A rapist can come from any walk of life. He could be a doctor, lawyer, professor, friend, co-worker, neighbor
or relative. He may be aggressive and may dislike women, but his physical appearance usually will not reveal these characteristics. A rapist's motive for attack is not
sex, but power. He wants to experience feelings of control, authority, mastery, strength and conquests by making the victim feel helpless, humiliated and hurt. His
victim can be any age, attractive or not, scantily dressed or dressed in heavy winter clothing. She might be the first woman to open her door or enter an empty
Laundromat or walk into a deserted parking lot. Far from being overwhelmed by sexual desire, the attacker is a victimizer on the prowl for an easy target.
• 1 in 5 women will be raped on a date-only 5% will report it.
• In the United States a rape occurs approximately one in every five minutes.
• 36% of rapes occur in the victim's home.
• Percentage of rapists convicted that will be re-asserted within one year: 52%.
• 80% of attacks can be diffused at the verbal level.
• Less than 10% of attackers have any form of psychiatric illness.
• 75% of assaults occur between people who know each other.
• 80% of attackers were abused as children.
• Rape in the United States has increased 4 times as far as the overall crime rate.
• The rape rate in the United States is 4 times as high as it is in Germany, 13 times as high as it is in England, and 20 times as high as it is in Japan.
Children who witness violence between adults in their homes have become more visible in the spotlight of public attention. The purpose of this document is to further an
understanding of the current literature on the effects of witnessing adult domestic violence on the social and physical development of children. Out of 84 studies reporting on
children's witnessing of domestic violence originally identified, 31 studies met criteria of rigorous research (see Edleson, 1999), with 18 of them comparing children who
witnessed adult domestic violence to other groups of children, 12 others using multiple regression procedures to compare subjects along a continuum of violence exposure or
by demographic characteristics, and one study applying qualitative research methods. The findings of these 31 studies can be divided into three major themes: (1) the
childhood problems associated with witnessing domestic violence; (2) the moderating factors present in a child's life that appear to increase or decrease these problems; and
(3) an evaluation of the research methods used in the studies reviewed.
Children's Problems Associated with Witnessing Violence
Reviewed studies report a series of childhood problems statistically associated with a child's witnessing domestic violence. These problems can be grouped into the three main
categories presented in more detail below: (1) behavioral and emotional; (2) cognitive functioning and attitudes; and (3) longer-term.
Behavioral and emotional problems
The area in which there is probably the greatest amount of information on problems associated with witnessing violence is in the area of children's behavioral and emotional
functioning. Generally, studies using the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL; Achenbach & Edelbrock, 1983) and similar measures have found child witnesses of domestic violence
to exhibit more aggressive and antisocial (often called "externalized" behaviors) as well as fearful and inhibited behaviors ("internalized" behaviors), and to show lower social
competence than other children. Children who witnessed violence were also found to show more anxiety, self-esteem, depression, anger, and temperament problems than
children who did not witness violence at home. Children from homes where their mothers were being abused have shown less skill in understanding how others feel and
examining situations from others' perspectives when compared to children from non-violent households. Peer relationships, autonomy, self-control, and overall competence
were also reported significantly lower among boys who had experienced serious physical violence and been exposed to the use of weapons between adults living in their homes.
Overall, these studies indicate a consistent finding that child witnesses of domestic violence exhibit a host of behavioral and emotional problems. A few studies have reported
finding no differences on some of these measures but these same studies found significant differences on other measures.
Another aspect of the effects on children is their own use of violence. Social learning theory would suggest that children who witness violence may also learn to use it. Several
researchers have attempted to look at this link between exposure to violence and subsequent use of it. Some support for this hypothesis has been found. For example, Singer
et al. (1998) studied 2,245 children and teenagers and found that recent exposure to violence in the home was a significant factor in predicting a child's violent behavior.
Cognitive functioning and attitudes
A number of studies have measured the association between cognitive development problems and witnessing domestic violence. While academic abilities were not found to
differ between witnesses and other children (Mathias et al., 1995), another study found increased violence exposure associated with lower cognitive functioning (Rossman,
1998). One of the most direct consequences of witnessing violence may be the attitudes a child develops concerning the use of violence and conflict resolution. Jaffe, Wilson
and Wolfe (1986) suggest that children's exposure to adult domestic violence may generate attitudes justifying their own use of violence. Spaccarelli, Coatsworth and Bowden's
(1995) findings support this association by showing that adolescent boys incarcerated for violent crimes who had been exposed to family violence believed more than others
that "acting aggressively enhances one's reputation or self-image" (p. 173). Believing that aggression would enhance their self-image significantly predicted violent offending.
Boys and girls appear to differ in what they learn from these experiences. Carlson (1991) found that boys who witnessed domestic abuse were significantly more likely to
approve of violence than were girls who had also witnessed it.
Most studies reviewed above have examined child problems associated with recent witnessing of domestic violence. A number of studies have mentioned much longer-term
problems reported retrospectively by adults or indicated in archival records. For example, Silvern et al.'s (1995) study of 550 undergraduate students found that witnessing
violence as a child was associated with adult reports of depression, trauma-related symptoms and low self-esteem among women and trauma-related symptoms alone among
men. Witnessing violence appeared to be in dependent of the variance accounted for by the existence of parental alcohol abuse and divorce. In the same vein, Henning et al.
(1996) found that among 123 adult women who had witnessed domestic violence as a child greater distress and lower social adjustment existed when compared to 494 non-
witnesses. These findings persisted even after accounting for the effects of witnessing parental verbal conflict, being abused as a child, and level of reported parental caring.
Factors Influencing the Degree of Problems Associated with Witnessing Violence
Several factors appear to moderate the degree to which a child is affected by witnessing violence. As will be seen below, a number of these factors also seem to interact with
each other creating unique outcomes for different children.
Abused and witnessing children
Hughes, Parkinson and Vargo (1989) have suggested that both witnessing abuse and also being abused is a "double whammy" for children. Their study compared children who
were both abused and had witnessed violence to children who had only witnessed violence and to others who had been exposed to neither type of violence. They found that
children who were both abused and witnesses exhibited the most problem behaviors; the witness-only group showed moderate problem symptoms and the comparison group
the least. This same pattern appears in series of other studies. Children seem to agree. In one study they indicated that the experience of being abused or both abused and a
witness is more negative than witnessing adult domestic violence alone (McClosky, Figueredo & Koss, 1995).
The combination of being abused and witnessing violence appears to be associated with more serious problems for children than witnessing violence alone. Silvern, et al.
(1995) found, however, that after accounting for the effects of being abused, adult reports of their childhood witnessing of interparental violence still accounted for a significant
degree of their problems as children. Silvern and her colleagues caution that witnessing domestic violence may result in traumatic effects on children that are distinct from the
effects of child abuse.
Some findings point to different factors for boys and girls that are associated with witnessing violence. In general, boys have been shown to exhibit more frequent problems
and ones that are categorized as external, such as hostility and aggression, while girls generally show evidence of more internalized problems, such as depression and somatic
complaints (Carlson, 1991; Stagg, Wills & Howell, 1989). There are also findings that dissent from this general trend by showing that girls, especially as they get older, also
exhibit more aggressive behaviors (for example, Spaccarelli, et al., 1994).
Children of different ages also appear to exhibit differing responses associated with witnessing violence. Children in preschool were reported by mothers to exhibit more
problems than other age groups (Hughes, 1988).
Few studies have found differences based on race and ethnicity. O'Keefe's (1994) study of white, Latino, and African-American families of battered women found that all the
children were viewed by their mothers as having serious emotional and behavioral problems. The only difference found between the groups was on social competence; African-
American mothers rated their children more competent when compared to other mothers' ratings of their own children.
Time since violent event
The longer the period of time since exposure to a violent event the fewer effects a child experiences. For example, Wolfe, Zak, Wilson and Jaffe (1986) found more social
problems among children residing in shelters than among children who had at one time in the past been resident in a shelter. The effect of the immediate turmoil may
temporarily escalate child problems as observed in a shelter setting.
Parent-child relationship factors
A number of authors have discussed a child's relationship to adult males in the home as a key factor. Peled (1996) suggests that children's relationships with their battering
fathers were confusing, with children expressing both affection for their fathers and resentment, pain and disappointment over his violent behavior.
Children's relationships to their mothers have also been identified as a key factor in how children are affected by witnessing domestic violence. Some have conjectured that a
mother's mental health would negatively affect a child's experience of violence but the data are conflicting. Wolfe, Jaffe, Wilson and Zak (1985) found that maternal stress
statistically accounted for a large amount of child behavior problems. Another study of child witnesses of violence, however, found that mothers' mental health did not affect a
child's response to violence in the home (McClosky et al., 1995).
Family support and children's perceptions of their parental relationships have also been identified as key parent-child variables. For example, Durant et al. (1994) found home
environments to be important among the 225 urban black adolescents they studied. Adolescents exposed to community and domestic violence appeared to cope better if they
lived in more stable and socially connected households.
Research Methods Used to Study Child Witnessing
Interpreting this literature raises several problems based on the research methodologies applied. These include problems with definitions, samples, sources of information,
measures, and research designs. Each is reviewed below. While together these flaws raise serious questions about this body of literature, these problems should not cause us
to dismiss findings that are consistently replicated across different studies using different methods and samples.
A significant problem in this body of literature is that many researchers have failed to differentiate abused children from those who are not themselves abused but who
witness family violence. For example, Kolbo (1996) notes that of the 60 child witnesses he studied at a non-shelter domestic violence program all but two were also targets of
violence. Some authors do not even identify the degree to which the children studied are both abused and witnessing violence. Rather, they sometimes present their data as
representative of children who only witness violence. As Silvern et al. (1995) have stated, "the relationship between reported partner and child abuse should warn that
research could be flawed if it is assumed that shelter samples of children have been exposed solely to partner abuse" (p. 195).
Another issue in this literature is that most studies draw on samples of children and their mothers who are located in shelters for battered women. While this research
generates very important information for shelter-based programs, residing in shelters may be a very stressful point in a child's life and not representative of his or her mental
health in the long run. Not only have shelter-resident children most likely witnessed a violent event but they have also been removed from the familiar surroundings of their
homes, neighborhoods and often their schools.
Sources of reports
Who reports the child's problems in a study may also skew the information we receive. Almost all of the studies reported above relied on mothers' reports of their children's
problems. O'Brien, John, Margolin and Erel (1994) have shown that many parents report their children are unaware of violence between the adults when the children, in fact,
report awareness of it. Studies that rely on the reports of only parents to define witnessing may incorrectly classify significant numbers of children as non-witnesses. Studies
have also shown that in reports of other forms of maltreatment there are discrepancies between child, parent, clinician and agency ratings of problems. Sternberg, Lamb and
Dawud-Noursi (1998) have found that child witnesses of violence and their parents differ significantly on the problems they report to researchers.
The over-reliance on a single reporter is a theme that is carried through to the measures used in these studies. The reason "internalized" or "externalized" behavior problems
are so frequently mentioned in this literature is a direct result of the repeated use of the Child Behavior Checklist as mentioned earlier. Very few investigators have ventured
beyond the use of this measure of a few others such as the Trauma Symptoms Checklist and there is not currently a standardized measure developed that addresses the
unique problems experienced by children who witness violence at home. Such measures should include an assessment of a child's perceived safety. Other variables not yet
measured include disruption in child's social support network among extended family members, school personnel and friends, the safety and effect of visitation arrangements,
and the effect of changed economic factors on the child's development.
A final weakness in this area of study is that most studies are correlational. As Holtzworth-Munro, Smutzler and Sandin (1997) point out, these studies only show
associations between being a witness and some other variable such as a behavior problem. We generally speak of the effects of witnessing violence on children's development.
In reality, however, these studies reveal only an association between the variables without predicting that one variable caused the other to occur or vice versa. Many people
make the assumption that finding an association is the same as finding that a particular event such as witnessing violence caused a child's problems.
The studies reviewed for this document provide strong evidence that children who witness domestic violence at home also exhibit a variety of behavioral, emotional, cognitive
and longer-term developmental problems. Each child will experience adult domestic violence in unique ways depending on a variety of factors that include direct physical abuse
of the child, his or her gender and age, the time since exposure to violence, and his or her relationship with adults in the home. Significant percentages of children in the
studies reviewed showed no negative developmental problems despite witnessing repeated violence. We must be careful to not assume that witnessing violence automatically
leads to negative outcomes for children.
These data are primarily based on samples of children living in shelters for battered women. This has been used as a criticism of these studies on the grounds that shelter
residence is a time of crisis and not representative of a child's on-going life. These data do, however, provide shelters
with a much better understanding of the problems many of their resident children may be experiencing. And despite the limitations of some individual studies cited, the
number and variety of studies so far reported provide a strong basis for accepting the overall findings.
There is a danger that these data may lead some child protection agencies to more frequently define child witnessing of violence as a form of child abuse or neglect. It is not
uncommon to see battered women charged with "failure to protect" their children from a batterer. Many child protection agencies continue to hold battered mothers solely
responsible for their children's safety. These actions are often based on the belief that separating from a batterer will always be the safest path for the battered woman and
Yet these actions on the part of the child protection system ignore the reality that the majority of assaults and murders of battered women occur after they have been
separated or divorced from their perpetrator. Such actions also ignore the reality that battered mothers often make decisions about their relationships with male partners
based on their judgments of what will be best for their children.
The responsibility for creating a dangerous environment should be laid squarely on the shoulders of the adult who is using violent behavior, whether or not that adult is the
legal guardian of the child. Responsibility and blame should not be placed on adult survivors in the home. Holding the violent abuser responsible for ending the use of violence
is the path that leads to safety for these children and their abused mothers.
It is likely that the outcomes of additional studies on this topic will be reported in the immediate future. The responses to existing and future studies should be to identify
ways to provide safety to both children and any abused adults who also reside in their homes.
FACT vs. FICTION
Fiction: When attacked, its best not to resist
Fact: You stand a better chance if you resist
Fiction: You need to be a vigilante if you want to survive in today's world
Fact: It's OK not to go looking for trouble
Fiction: Women who are married don't need to worry about Self-Defense
Fact: You are the person best equipped to defend yourself
Fiction: You have the right to defend yourself by any means necessary
Fact: Some "defensive" actions can be considered criminal offenses
Fiction: Most people have no intention of hurting you
Fact: True, but it's better to be safe than sorry.
1. Devise an escape plan
2. Teach it to your children
3. Practice it frequently
4. Be prepared to carry it out
5. Revise plan as conditions change
6. Inspect and secure all doors and windows
7. Trim shrubs and hedges that obscure entrance to the home
8. Don't leave tools laying around-ladder
9. Motion detector-lighting
10. Telephone listing-initial and last name
11. Never hide key outside in obvious places
12. Alarm sticker #1 deterrent
13. Don't leave guns laying around-night stand
14. 2nd line-cellular phone
Analyze your own situation through the eyes of a criminal!
1. Never answer door-hotel without verifying who it is-front desk
2. When returning late, use main entrance
3. Be observant when entering parking lots
4. Use all locking devices-secure doors, deadbolt-hard to break
5. Do not draw attention to self by displaying large amounts of money & jewelry
1. Have keys ready in hand
2. Observe around and under your car
3. Never let gas tank go below 1/4 tank
4. Park in well lit areas when possible
5. Avoid unfamiliar side streets and shortcuts
6. Stay on highways, major traffic areas
7. If followed, go to police deparment or public place
8. Never pull over if rear ended. Tries to run you off road
9. Don't use ATM after dark
10. Basic mechanics-learn how to change a tire
AUTO BREAKDOWN SAFETY
1. Keep up with auto so it won't break down
2. Get off road to safety, even with flat tire, emergency flasher
3. Raise hood-tie handkerchief to door handle
4. Look for call box
5. Ask motorist who stops to call someone you know
6. Out in country, walk for help, leave note in car, which way you went so they
can find you and what happened to your car.
7. You should carry these items in your car:
* flashlight * first aid kit * duct tape, electrical tape, cloth tape * paper, pen,
pencil * blanket, towels * jumper cables
1. Date someone you know fairly well, or friends know
2. Inquire about a prospective date before going out
3. Invite a second couple-if you are uncomfortable
4. Let your date know what your expectations are up front concerning intimacy
5. Carry change for phone and taxi
6. Let a friend know who you are going out with
THINGS YOU NEVER KNEW YOUR CELL PHONE COULD DO
There are a few things that can be done in times of grave emergencies. Your
mobile phone can actually be a life saver or an emergency tool for survival.
Check out the things that you can do with it:
Emergency - The Emergency Number worldwide for Mobile is 112
If you find yourself out of the coverage area of your mobile; network and there
is an emergency, dial 112 and the mobile will search any existing network to
establish the emergency number for you, and interestingly this number 112 can
be dialed even if the keypad is locked. Try it out.
Have you locked your keys in the car? Does your car have remote keyless
This may come in handy someday. Good reason to own a cell phone: If you lock
your keys in the car and the spare keys are at home, call someone at home on
their cell phone from your cell phone. Hold your cell phone about a foot from
your car door and have the person at your home press the unlock button,
holding it near the mobile phone on their end. Your car will unlock. It saves
someone from having to drive your keys to you. Distance is no object. You
could be hundreds of miles away, and if you can reach someone who has the
other "remote" for your car, you can unlock the doors (or the trunk).
Hidden Cell Phone Battery Power
Imagine your cell battery is very low. To activate, press the keys *3370#
Your cell will restart with this reserve and the instrument will show a 50%
increase in battery. This reserve will get charged when you charge your cell
Subject: How to disable a STOLEN mobile phone?
To check your Mobile phone's serial number, key in the following digits on your
phone: * # 0 6 #. A 15 digit code will appear on the screen. This number is
unique to your handset. Write it down and keep it somewhere safe. If your
phone gets stolen, you can phone your service provider and give them this
code. They will then be able to block your handset so even if the thief changes
the SIM card, your phone will be totally useless. You probably won't get your
phone back, but at least you know that whoever stole it can't use/sell it either. If
everybody does this, there would be no point in people stealing mobile phones.
Subject: Free 411 Information
Cell phone companies are charging us $1.00 to $1.75 or more for 411
information calls when they don't have to. Most of us do not carry a telephone
directory in our vehicle, which makes this situation even more of a problem.
When you need to use the 411 information option, simply dial: (800) FREE 411,
or (800) 373-3411 without incurring any charge at all. Program this into your
cell phone now. This is the kind of information people don't mind receiving, so
pass it on to your family and friends.
Definition of domestic violence:
A pattern of coercive behavior used my one person in order to maintain power and control in a
relationship. Batterers repeatedly subject their victims to any forceful physical or
psychological behavior in order to coerce them to do something batterers want them to do
without regard to the victim's rights or well-being.
Know the Facts
• Domestic Violence is the leading cause of serious injury to American women, more
common than muggings and car crashes combined.
• Every year between 2 and 4 million women are battered by their husbands or
• Approximately 3.3 million children witness violence toward their mothers each year.
• Violent youth are four times more likely to come from homes in which their fathers
beat their mothers than are nonviolent youth.
• In West Virginia, a domestic homicide occurs every 10 days.
• Between 1989 and 1998, domestic violence incidents accounted for 30.6% of all
homicides in the state.
• In fiscal year 2003-2004 licensed domestic violence programs directly served 18,579
West Virginians. Source: WVCADV Annual Report FY 2003-2004
• An average of two domestic homicides occurred in West Virginia each month. This
average has held steady since the late 70's.
Source: West Virginia Uniform Crime Report, West Virginia State Police
• Law enforcement agencies reported a total of 10,397 complaints of domestic
violence in 1998, a 4.1% increase over the 1997 figure.
Source: Uniform Crime Report, West Virginia State Police, 1998
* 1 in 5 women will be raped on a date-only 5% will report it. * Every 33 seconds a female is assaulted. * 36% of rapes occur in the victim's home.
* United States estimates 2 million rapes per year (100,000 reported in 1990). Only 7% of total rapes are ever reported. In the United States a rape occurs
approximately one in every five minutes. In approximately 30% of rapes a weapon is used. Of these weapons used, 44% are knives and 25% are guns.
* 52% of rapists convicted will be re-asserted within one year: * 80% of attacks can be diffused at the verbal level. * 80% of attackers were abused as children.
* Less than 10% of attackers have any form of psychiatric illness. * 75% of assaults occur between people who know each other.
* The average person, in their lifetime, will see 250,000 acts of violence and 40,000 acts of attempted murder on television.
* Rape in the United States has increased 4 times as far as the overall crime rate.