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During the COVID-19 pandemic, many Empowerment Self-Defense organizations are offering trainings online, making them available to people from anywhere. Find our what's offered here. 

Our Mission

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The Empowerment Self-Defense Alliance works to leverage the collective impact

of empowerment self-defense practitioners and influence national dialogue about

preventing interpersonal violence. ESDA positions empowerment self-defense as a

powerful means of personal and social change with a robust and growing research base demonstrating its efficacy. ESDA foregrounds survivors’ agency, awareness of the

neuro-biological factors surrounding trauma, and a commitment to social justice

as fundamental components of violence prevention. 


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Empowerment self-defense teaches practical skills to those targeted for gender-based violence – primarily women and LGBTQ+ people. The skills work for avoiding, interrupting, responding to, and healing from the effects of interpersonal violence.


We teach those skills in the context of rape culture, addressing the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and socio-cultural components of standing up for yourself and others.


ESD is grounded in an understanding of social inequality and social justice, and addresses the whole spectrum of gender-based violence, from harassment to attack, from micro-aggressions to trafficking. More->



A number of studies have found evidence that self-defense training, specifically, may decrease a woman’s chances of experiencing future sexual victimization as compared with women without training; and that forceful verbal and physical resistance and fleeing (all taught and practiced in ESD) have a proven association with rape avoidance in both reported and unreported crimes... More ->


What we've done

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See some of ESDA's accomplishments in these categories:

  • Writing and publishing on ESD and gender-based violence

  • Conference presentations

  • Advocacy + coalition work

  • Coverage and media appearances

Click here for much more. 


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ESDA is a diverse collaboration of empowerment self-defense practitioners and thought leaders. Our group includes domestic and sexual violence service providers, academics, trainers, writers, activists, social workers, and survivors.

Our founders: front row: Alena Schaim, Meg Stone, Brenda Jones, Martha Thompson, Anne Kuzminsky; back row: Yuko Uchikawa, George (Susan) Schorn, Clara Porter, Carmel Drewes, Lauren Taylor, Lynne Marie Wanamaker; center: Darlene DeFour. To find a list of empowerment self-defense practitioners, see below.



To find an Empowerment Self-Defense practitioner in the  U..S. or around the world, click here



We'd love to hear from you! You can also email us directly at

You can also find us on Facebook