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Get Empowered


A self-defense instructor for over 20 years and owner of Strategic Living, Joanne Factor asserts that the safest woman is an empowered one. So during her workshops, including the one she is hosting at the Bellevue Club this October, she specializes in educating and equipping her students with a variety of tools to deploy during dangerous situations.

“There’s not really a certain style I teach, but one of the things I focus on is giving women options. I’m empowerment-based, not fear-based,” she says. Her three-hour course focuses on four different components of staying safe. “But most of it boils down to awareness. Most people who have been attacked said something felt off. They knew something was brewing,” she says. Below are general skills students can expect to gain from taking her course. 


Factor says the first step is for women to cultivate an awareness of others and possible dangerous situations. “It’s about noticing when someone is looking at you or they are testing your boundaries.” Sometimes these situations can be random, but most women are assaulted by someone they know.

In some situations, there are nonviolent preventive strategies that can be taken. In her classes, Factor focuses on ways to avoid assaults by using your voice and body language. “Recognizing when it’s a good time to leave or speak up. You are telling that person you understand boundaries, and you understand yours are being violated and you’re going to do something about it,” Factor says.

“You try not to use them, but if you do, there’s no substitute for them,” Factor says. She teaches basic physical self-defense skills that focus on quickly injuring vulnerable spots such as the eyes, windpipe and groin. “With these moves, you don’t need skill or strength. You don’t even really need that good of an aim. They target areas that will have a physiological response—it will cause pain in their eyes or for their windpipe to go into spasm,” she says.

Being attacked is traumatizing, and it’s crucial that women know how to process the event in a healthy way.                                                                                   Factor gives women recommendations for people to talk with and approaches to take for caring for the mind and emotions, should they need them. “Traumatic events and zombies have one thing in common: they will both eat your brain if given the chance,” Factor says. 


Joanne Factor will be holding a self-defense workshop for women on October 21 at the Bellevue Club, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. For more information or to make reservations, please e-mail

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