Self-Defense Training, Women's Abuse History, and Psychological Characteristics

Leanne Brecklin, University of Illinois at Springfield

Self-defense classes aim to prevent violence against women by strengthening women's capacity to defend themselves. After completing self-defense classes, improvements in the following domains have been found in women: assertiveness, personal control over lives, self-efficacy, confidence, perceptions of physical strength, bravery, and independence. This is the first national study to compare females who have taken self-defense to those who have not on relevant background characteristics (e.g., child physical abuse, child sexual abuse), social-psychological characteristics (e.g., rape myth acceptance, masculinity/femininity), and psychological symptoms (e.g., depression, anxiety). Discriminant function analyses will be conducted to determine which variables distinguish between women who took self-defense training and women who have not. Suggestions for future research evaluating self-defense programs are presented.

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Updated 05/20/2006