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#Metoo, Sexual Assault And Jiu Jitsu
Ideas on Jiu Jitsu's fight against this epidemic...
There are many reasons why we train Jiu Jitsu. It is a great form of exercise. In addition to the physical exercise, it also exercises our mind. When we grapple, we also grapple our demons, it is therapy. It is an impressive tool for of self-defense. We see many additional benefits on and off the mats.
Some have been driven to Jiu Jitsu for another reason. What many have known for a long time the #Metoo movement has brought into the open. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center has posted the following statistics on sexual assault in the United States:
- One in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives.
- In the U.S., one in three women and one in six men experienced some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime.
- 1% of female victims of rape reported being raped by an intimate partner and 40.8% by an acquaintance.
- In eight out of 10 cases of rape, the victim knew the perpetrator.
- Eight percent of rapes occur while the victim is at work.
- 20% - 25% of college women and 15% of college men are victims of forced sex during their time in college.
- One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old.
These numbers are staggering. As a husband to my wife and father to daughters they terrify me. In many circles, sexual assault is a taboo topic. It is not something that we lean to in polite conversation. Yet, for many, it is a reality that they have to deal with.
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Miya Stewart wrote an interesting article titled Learning Jiu-Jitsu as a Sexual Assault Survivor. Here is an excerpt from the article, “Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art that requires a lot of intimate physical contact, which can cause someone who has experienced sexual assault to feel uncomfortable/triggered. I found that, for me, the most difficult part was the ground fighting – both watching and participating. It was a different experience; dealing with trauma outside of your comfort zone is never ideal. I struggled a lot with separating reality from memory. With the help of my professor, Maurice Stevens, I was able to teach myself to recognize when I am safe vs. when I am not. Robin and Maurice provided a safe space for me to grow mentally, emotionally, and physically, which is exactly what I needed to succeed in this class.
To help put this into perspective for other survivors, I want to compare my best days in Jiu-Jitsu to my worst. My best days were always extremely empowering. During one class, in particular, Robin taught us how to flip someone from on top of you, and guess what? I DID IT! Not only did I flip someone off of me, I flipped a MAN off of me! I can still remember the rush of adrenaline that I felt. I was so proud of myself and felt like I could conquer anything in the world. Being able to physically protect myself is an unfamiliar feeling. As a sexual assault survivor, I am constantly reminded of the moments I was unable to protect myself. Knowing that self-defense IS a possibility for me was an important thing I gained from this class. Many women don’t know about Jiu-Jitsu or think that they can’t learn it due to lack of strength, which is why it’s so great that Robin is trying to fix that.
My worst days, fortunately, did not occur as often as my best days. But, when I did have bad days, it was difficult to participate in class. One example is a class where Robin taught us how to stop someone from choking you while on top of you. I’m sure you could imagine why this would be difficult for someone like me. I would feel myself mentally leaving the room and I would start having anxiety attacks. Trauma is hard to explain; it comes out of nowhere and completely takes over your body. Luckily, the support of my instructors and my peers helped me remember that I was safe and the only thing hurting me was myself. And, luckily, I was able to learn how to help myself instead.”
As men, let’s not sit by complacently because this we feel this does not impact us. It impacts our wives, daughters and mothers. Let’s educate the people we love on the benefits of Jiu Jitsu. Let’s educate the men that we have influence over on why sexual assault is never okay. Let’s denounced anyone found guilty of this. With our female training partners, let’s be supportive of them. Let’s realize that danger is more likely for them than for many of us. Let’s support charities that are against sexual violence. Let’s never tolerate sexual misconduct on the mats.
Sexual assault is a major issue in society. As a Jiu Jitsu community, lets strive to understand the issue and do our part in the fight against the epidemic.