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A Life of IMPACT by Lisa Gaeta

March is Women’s History Month and the theme for 2023 is storytelling. So what’s a better story than the start of IMPACT as told by Lisa Gaeta.


Check out this excerpt from Lisa Gaeta’s upcoming book, A Life of IMPACT:


Growing up, I had this vague vision or idea of somehow making a difference in the way women are treated. I thought I wanted to be a lawyer, but honestly, I was never a good enough student for that. While I was in graduate school, I thought I would be a lobbyist to lobby for women’s issues. But the idea was very vague.

In the summer between graduate school, I was introduced to the program which would later become IMPACT Personal Safety. I never in my wildest dreams thought of myself as being “athletic” at all. I never played sports really, was not very physically active, and I certainly never saw myself as a teacher, much less a developer of a program like IMPACT. Never.

If I look back at the series of events that got me to IMPACT, I am convinced that I was fated to be part of this movement. The number of things that had to align for me to be introduced to the program at the time I was, makes it hard for me to believe it was coincidence.

The first time I fought the padded instructor, I felt a shift in the way I felt, the way I thought about myself, the way I thought about other people. My life literally changed in that moment. Suddenly, I realized I was very physical. I found that I could hit “as hard as a man“. It felt so good to feel so powerful, I knew I had to share it. I wanted everyone I knew to feel how strong and powerful and confident I felt after taking one 20-hour course!

Once I started taking more classes, developing courses, and learning about violence against women, the more I wondered “why isn’t everybody in the whole wide world taking this class?”, It became my mission in life to pass this information on to as many people as I could and to develop courses for everyone.

The road was rough! So many people told me I couldn’t do it, I shouldn’t do it, I was “cute” to do it. Everyone questioned my sanity. People didn’t believe that women were really defending themselves and that the padded instructors were faking it. Even women who ran organizations such as rape crisis centers told me I shouldn’t be teaching self-defense to women, or that men should not be helping me, or that I should be teaching for free. But I just pressed on because I knew, down to my core, that this was right.

Now here I am 38 years later and society’s attitude about women defending themselves and fighting back has changed immensely. People are more educated in the concepts of consent and boundary setting than people in my generation ever were, that’s for sure.

And yet, while things change, so much remains the same. 35 years later, violence against women, children, the LBGTQ+ community, and all other marginalized groups of people still exists. More now than ever, everyone needs to know how to defend themselves.

Interpersonal violence remains an issue, therefore my work remains incomplete…


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