Survivors Prevention & Healing Project

“The best part of the (self-defense) course was discussing preventative measures about daily life… I think the most important thing is realizing I have options in a variety of situations. This made me think about changing certain things in my life… and I hope to be able to protect myself in the event I am in a situation, with a partner or a stranger.”

“As a survivor of rape, my training in karate and self-defense has helped to restore my voice. Martial arts are a way of connecting mind and body, listening to self and others, finding strength and being empowered. It is through training that I have moved beyond coping and surviving to a deeper sense of integration.”




Hear more from survivors in the CAE community

The goals of CAE’s Survivors’ Prevention and Healing Project (SPHP) are to help women and transpeople who are survivors of relationship violence, sexual and/or childhood abuse access the proven benefits of training in women- and trans-positive self-defense and martial arts programs.  As one participant put it, this program “restores to survivors something that is often lacking in other forums—a connection between mind, body, and spirit that was severed for most when they were assaulted.”

We honor the experience of survivors, and the importance of healing. As such, CAE offers free Self-Defense training or one month of free training in tai chi chuan or karate to women and transpeople who are survivors of relationship violence, sexual assault, and/or childhood abuse. We also provide free child-care. Some survivors prefer practical physical and mental skills taught during the self-defense course, some prefer the power and intensity of karate training, while others seek the calming, meditative aspects of the gentler tai chi.

While women- and trans-positive self-defense and martial arts training is only one part of the solution to women and transpeople’s victimization, it is a crucial part. Class discussions and role plays increase an individual’s psychological strength. Women and transpeople also learn physical skills and mental strategies that give them a new sense of their capabilities and power. CAE’s programs emphasize that:

  • No one has the right to hurt you, and you are not to blame if you have been hurt.
  • You can end isolation by accessing support services and networks.
  • There are concrete steps that you can take to be safer at home, on the street, at work.

We teach simple, effective physical techniques useful in many different situations. In role plays, students practice standing up for themselves, setting boundaries, and expressing themselves clearly. In discussions, we talk about strategies for safety and prevention; emotional aspects of self-defense, battering and other family violence issues; and concrete steps for increased safety.  Survivors who participate in our programs experience an enhanced sense of personal control and increased self-esteem. This aids in the healing process and increases survivors’ ability to live, study, and work more effectively. In addition, participants build community, and break through the shame, fear, and isolation so often caused by violence.

We stress the right of every woman and transperson to protect themselves if they are being disrespected, threatened, or abused. At the same time, we stress that if you are experiencing violence, it is not your fault. Counseling and other referrals to programs for survivors of relationship violence, rape, incest, and childhood abuse are made available to women and transpeople who seek further help.

Women and transpeople from all five boroughs participate in our on-site programs. Additionally, CAE provides free off-site workshops at rape crisis centers, shelters, and domestic violence agencies throughout the New York metropolitan area. Each year, these workshops reach hundreds of survivors throughout the city.

Some of our partner organizations include: Bellevue Medical Center Rape Crisis Intervention Center; Beth Israel Medical Center Rape Crisis Intervention Program; La Bodega de la Familia; Center Against Domestic Violence; CAMBA; Center for Family Life; Good Shepherd Services; Long Island College Hospital Rape Crisis Intervention Center; NYC Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project; Park Slope Safe Homes Project;  Safe Horizon; Sanctuary for Families; Seventh Avenue Center for Family Services; and the YWCA.