Today's guest blogger is Lee Marlin, Director of Marketing for Hope House.
Submissive or aggressive. Very often, our clients and their children arrive at Hope House with one of these two responses to interactions with others. They’ve learned through living with their abuser whether “freeze, fight, or flight” is their best option for getting out of a situation unharmed.
Cyndie O’Bleness, owner of Elements Martial Arts in North Kansas City, believes there is a better response, which starts with self empowerment.
Cyndie volunteers three times a week teaching classes in personal safety and empowerment at Hope House for the women, school-aged children, and pre-school children who are living in our shelter.
Cyndie’s philosophy when teaching at Hope House is, “We don’t want to get to the ‘fighting back’ stage. We want it (a confrontation) to be a non-event.”
To that end, she teaches our clients how to use their voice and body language; how to set boundaries; how to get over the fear of saying “no” when someone is doing something that makes them feel uncomfortable.
“Something as simple as eye contact is important, but extremely difficult for someone who’s been traumatized,” Cyndie explains.
Martial arts fighting isn’t taught in her classes at Hope House. “We don’t want to teach these women to fight and make them think they can walk back into the relationship and be safe.” However, if a women or child is interested in training in martial arts, Cyndie offers scholarships and sliding scale fees.
Hope House women’s therapist Janet Howard said of the trainings, “Because girls are taught in our society to ‘be nice’ it is often translated into being ‘submissive’ or ‘not making a scene’. Cyndie is teaching them that they have a voice and mind and can make their own decisions after they assess the situation.”
Jill Weiterman, Hope House children’s therapist says, “One of the best things about this program is the self-esteem I have seen it foster in the kids; especially some of the boys who are struggling with anger problems. Cyndie has given the kids something to look forward to every week.”
We are so grateful to Cyndie for all she does for our clients. She is teaching them skills that will change the way they relate to everyone in their life. To learn more about Cyndie’s classes, seminars, and outreach programs, please visit her website http://www.elements4women.org/.