ESD+ is our holistic and trauma-informed curriculum that combines the two practical and evidence based systems of:
Empowerment Self Defence (ESD) + Mindfulness-Based Stress Management (MBSM)
The three pillars of our training are empowerment, resilience and safety. ESD+ is designed to help women and girls more confidently navigate challenging and/or threatening situations, anywhere along the stress and violence spectrums. It provides participants with a toolkit of simple, practical & effective life skills they can use, not only in potentially violent altercations but also in their everyday lives.
The ESD+ Toolkit
Awareness & Intuition
Understanding stress & violence
Verbal & non-verbal communication
Evade & Escape tactics
Believing in yourself
Finding & using your voice
Resilience & Determination
Simple & effective
Easy to apply
Works on any body type
Soft Physical Skills (Non-Violent)
Grabs, Holds and Strangles
"The empowerment & embodied confidence that comes through connecting with your fighting spirit & learning physical self defence often makes your verbal skills more effective, decreasing the chances of ever having to use those physical skills." - L. Evans
What is ESD?
ESD is a holistic approach to women’s self-defence.
It was designed by women, for women and the types of violence women are most likely to experience. Ultimately, it is about expanding options. ESD training does so by empowering it’s participants with a set of practical strategies to help defend themselves on a mental, emotional & physical level. The more strategies you have…the more options you have.
Our aim is to provide you with information that you only need to hear once. This information then shapes the way you deal with volatile situations. Common sense is not always common practice so we teach you simple strategies to stay safe in a range of situations, without restricting behaviour or negatively impacting on your life.
Since over 80% of sexual assault is perpetrated by someone known to the victim, ESD focuses on respectful relationship principles such as effective communication, consent, assertiveness, boundary-setting, de-escalation & risk assessment. Along with these soft skills we also teach physical self defence strategies that are easy to learn and effective with any body type, against any perpetrator. The empowerment that comes through connecting with your own fighting spirit often makes your soft skills more effective, decreasing the chances of ever having to use those physical skills.
Why Do We Teach ESD?
Simply put…because it works!
According to Jocelyn Hollander, Professor of Sociology at the University of Oregon and author of the most recent systematic review of the field, “Women’s self-defence training is the only sexual violence prevention strategy with solid evidence of effectiveness at reducing rates of victimisation”…ESD has been proven to reduce rates of sexual violence.
You can read a summary of her research below.
ESD helps prevent, interrupt and resist violence. It is a short term, medium term and long term approach all in one!
At Empowered Today, we believe the best way to reduce violence against women is to address the issue from all fronts… with everything we’ve got!
The types of primary prevention most governments and policy makers are currently focusing on are, without a doubt, necessary…but are not, alone, the answer. The majority of National policies and funding are addressing the issue through one of the root causes (gender inequality and male attitudes) as well as supporting those already experiencing/having experienced violence…which is admirable. The problem with using only this approach is that systemic change can be very slow and in the meantime more and more women & girls are experiencing violence & sexual assault.
It’s true… it should not be the responsibility of (potential) victims to stop the violence by learning to protect themselves but, unfortunately, this is not a perfect world….yet. Until it is, there will be people that, for many varied reasons, inflict violence on others. We don’t believe it’s empowering for women when the only option they are given is to sit around and wait for long-term behaviour and systemic change to end the violence…in fact, quite the opposite. Our approach is to provide them with skills that help them feel safe and Empowered Today.
What is MBSM?
Mindfulness-Based Stress Management (MBSM) is what we call the set of mindfulness exercises we teach to help people self-regulate in order to navigate stressful situations more effectively. It includes centring and grounding techniques, breathing exercises, awareness/meditation practices and energy/emotion release methods.
Why Do We Teach MBSM?
We can’t always choose what happens to us but we can choose how we respond.
We all experience stress in our lives. It’s impossible to avoid challenging situations in life. So if we can’t avoid it…we need to be able to manage it. This makes stress management and self-care vital for maintaining both our mental and physical health. MBSM empowers people with easy and effective state regulation strategies they can use, not only to reduce stress during challenging times, but to build resilience and maintain positive mental health on an everyday basis.
Ultimately, stress and self-defence are completely interrelated. In order to access all of the strategies/options available to us and choose the most appropriate action in a stressful or threatening situation, we must be able to remain calm and continue functioning from the rational part of our brain…the prefrontal cortex. For this we need to be able to state-regulate or centre/ground.
This is why we felt MBSM was the missing piece to ESD training and why we added it in to create our unique ESD+ curriculum. We feel it perfectly complements the EMPOWERMENT & SAFETY pillars of ESD, becoming the foundation of our 3rd training pillar… RESILIENCE.
Our Facilitation Approach
We are very passionate about what we do…and we strive to be the best facilitators we can be. We use a gentle, mindful, supportive approach backed by a deep understanding and embodied modelling of the principles and content we teach.
Our training is trauma-informed and there is never victim blaming.
We acknowledge that, regardless of the situation, the perpetrator is always at fault. It is our aim to create an emotionally supportive environment where you feel in control of your own experience and are able to participate in a way that feels safe…and right for you. We also understand that human interactions are complex and that anything outside of our understanding is outside of our control. For this reason, we take a psychological approach to understanding our own mental and emotional landscape, the motivations of perpetrators, as well as exploring how best to navigate the complexity of social interactions, communication and relationships.
We are also aware that everyone learns differently and learning is most effective when fun, interactive & embodied. For this reason we use multi-modal learning methods including information sharing, discussions, games and personal reflection, along with a range of kinaesthetic activities to help you embody the principles you are learning. The interactive, social & supportive nature of ESD training is an important component of the learning environment.
When a woman says ‘no’ it’s the beginning of a
– Gavin De Becker, ‘The Gift of Fear’
Research to support ESD
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