Beating Assault Jerks With Their Own Game
Innovative safety game for girls combats sexual assault in young women thru tactful, insightful role-playing.
I walked in young and naive. The hulky, padded male attacker aggressively jumped me from behind and tackled me to the ground. He smashed my slender body down onto the mat. I was pinned, flat on my back. And I was scared. His heavy, muscular body continued to press down on top of me while he held my thin wrists taut in his strong hands. Then, the worst part happened. He violently whispered disgusting profanity into my ear.
The instructor of the class stood watching…
She advised me to respond to my attacker with a swift knee to the groin and firm pokes to his padded eyes while yelling "No!" I was overwhelmed. This warm, fuzzy introduction to my attacker all happened within 15 minutes of walking thru the door of the studio that day.
More than half of the women in that first class never finished the 4-week training. We were emotionally and physically exhausted. It was very intense. Many of us left more frightened from that first class than before we even started.
This uncomfortable experience was what propelled me to teach women's empowerment in a more intuitive way- sans the fear factor. In 2016, Jerky Johnny®- an award-winning Safety game for girls was born.
Statistically, experts tell us more than 90% of women are assaulted by someone they know- not the elusive stranger that we are often taught to fear. That means, your co-worker, friend, ex-boyfriend, coach, college roommate, etc., is the one to watch out for.
More often then not, perpetrators of sexual assault will often exhibit predictable signs to their victims. Therefore best way to prepare our daughters-- or any woman-- from an assault is to teach her to recognize common 'Danger Signs' of predators.
I know telling young women that they are more likely to be date-raped or attacked by someone they know is not an easy topic. But this is where the Jerky Johnny game comes in. Girl's ages 12 thru teens learn practical Assertiveness skills for peer and early dating relationships in a Fun game setting, while identifying Danger Signs.
The signs themselves are not hard. He tells you what to do, how to dress, or where to go; he's Controlling. He calls you names, teases you, shouts or curses at you; he's Verbally Abusive. He prevents you from seeing your family, friends; he Isolates you.
The problem is not that we can't identify the many Danger Signs. Rather, it's that most girls and women are taught to be nice and friendly- often we choose to dismiss the signs. We say, "Oh, he's not a bad guy" and give him another chance when we shouldn't. Or we ignore our body's intuition when it's SCREAMING LOUDLY to tell us something is wrong.
Women are born with the gift of strong intuition. It's innate. All of us have it. It's like a motherly instinct that is always there to protect us. We just need to learn and be familiar with our body's distinct signal. Intuition can come in many forms: sweaty palms, a stomachache, a hunch, fear, chills, etc. Learning to identify and trust our intuition may be the difference between keeping you safe and someone else not. When we feel it, we listen to it. No excuses.
"No! Stop! You have no right to treat me that way!" These are critical words to teach our girls. Say them with confidence. Firmly. Look into the aggressors' eyes. Do not let the situation escalate and break off a bad relationship at the very first sign. Then always get help. It doesn't matter how much time has gone by, you can always report an assault when you're ready to talk.
And oh yeah, if you need to… Go ahead, and knee him in the groin too.
The Jerky Johnny role-playing game was launched in 2016 and recently accepted the 2017 Soroptomist International Award for Excellence. Moms nationwide are using the game to empower their daughters. It is available at www.jerkyjohnny.com
Dara Connolly is a natural protector.
Creator of the Jerky Johnny Safety Game for Girls