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40 Years of IMPACT


A Life of IMPACT

Walking down the street, minding my own business when suddenly I’m hit from behind, the air knocked out of me! I get into protective stance and yell “NO!” before I know it, I’m thrown to the ground, the assailant yelling profanities at me. He’s got me in a tight hold, preventing me from getting away. Somehow, I manage to get my hand behind me and slap and grab his testicles! He forcefully releases me, and I elbow him directly to the middle of his face. He screams as he is driven backward with force. I turn to face him, still on the ground, and heel palm him right under the chin. Next, I load up a knee to the groin, and slam it right on target. I pull myself out and get into kick position, the assailant comes in, yet again, to grab me so I kick him in the head really, really hard, and knock him backward. I slide in very close to him and deliver two axe kicks right to the center of his face. He stops moving and writhing in pain and I take this opportunity to get up safely and look around to see if someone can help me, or how I’m going to get away. It is only now, once I’ve gotten up and looked around, that I remember I’m in an IMPACT class, not a real life assault.

How the hell did I get here?


This is an excerpt from my upcoming book, a Life of IMPACT. This year marks the 40th anniversary of IMPACT Personal Safety. I remember when I turned 46 years old, I was amazed that I had been doing IMPACT for half of my life. But now I've been teaching IMPACT for 40 years!


I always knew that I would work with women somehow in my career. I wanted to be involved in politics, or lobbying for women's issues. But I was introduced to what is now IMPACT Personal Safety while I was in graduate school. Once I took the class, I knew that my life’s trajectory had changed. I knew that I had found something special that I had to share with as many people as I could. I was lucky to meet amazing people throughout my career who had incredible expertise and skills in many areas that I did not. Having them join my team, even for a short period of time to train us in new concepts and ideas and techniques, is what has kept IMPACT Personal Safety on the cutting edge.


My whole team, current and throughout the years, have all had a hand in the growth and evolution of our programs. I wish I could list each person who has had some sort of input into our systems, but that would be impossible. But I would like to mention my incredibly talented current team, several of whom have been teaching for over 20 years: Jennifer Bunting, Dani Joy, Dani Lizano, Nicole Snell, Ben Cook, Matt Harris, Don Hart, Michael Penafiel, Valeria Dohrer, and Amanda Hall.


During the 2020–21 quarantine, my colleagues and I embarked on a project that is something I had always dreamed about: taking IMPACT Personal Safety global. And while I am super proud of the work, we do here in SoCal - we have been teaching in local high schools for 30 years! - I am very excited about the work we are doing globally.

Since August 2019:

  • We have held 6 instructor trainings with a total of 85 trainees

  • We have 16 instructors on the travel team

  • We have 28 current trainees

  • The locations of these current trainees, are Albania, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Czechia, Germany, Israel, Mexico, Slovakia, and the United States

  • We have taught 19 Basics Courses at ESDG Level 1 trainings throughout the world

Spreading IMPACT Personal Safety around the world is challenging, but it’s worth it, knowing that the work we do is actually making a change in the world. I can go to sleep each night, knowing that there are more and more people around the world who are working to end gender-based violence.


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