COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — More than a dozen women of color are practicing self-defense techniques, through IMPACT Safety, a local program of Lifecare Alliance.

The project is called, “We Are Worth Defending,” which empowers women of color to address instances of physical or sexual abuse made against them.

“It happens so often or even, ‘Oh your hair is so whatever.’ You don’t have permission to touch me without asking,” said Dez Shallenberg, the program’s self-defense instructor.

Shallenberg says her teachings are designed to not only boost women’s confidence, but also build boundaries with others.

“We’re teaching boundary setting with strangers and also with people that you care about, which can be way harder than with strangers,” said Shallenberg. “We’re also teaching some soft physical techniques.”

National statistics show that one in four women across the country experience domestic violence. That number disproportionately affects Black women.

As a woman of color, Venica Miller says this is an issue she’s glad more attention is being brought too.

“I can’t tell you how good it feels to be in community with other women who are like me,” said Miller, a program manager for We Are Worth Defending.

Miller says learning to set boundaries with her loved ones is something even she struggled with.

“Women, all women, are taught to be nice. We teach at colleges and the number one thing is I don’t want to be mean,” said Dr. Julie Harmon, director of IMPACT Safety.

That mentality is what instructors at IMPACT safety are working to change by empowering women to set limits with others and protect themselves.

“I feel empowered and I feel like I can empower other women by the tools that I’ve gained mentally, physically, and even emotionally,” said Miller.

The self-defense class ran from July 8th-15th and all women who complete the course are officially trained to lead a class of their own.

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