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Personal Safety

Safety Alert

Computer use can be monitored and is impossible to completely clear. If you are in danger, please use a safer computer or call the statewide Victim Service Call Center a 1-800-770-1650 or text "IOWAHELP" to 20121.

Without basic needs for a safe environment and healthy relationships met, girls and women have little opportunity success in any part of their lives. The Iowa Commission on the Status of Women envisions a state where girls and women are safe and self-determined, and where those who need access to survivor services can find it easily and locally. We support full funding of domestic violence and sexual assault centers and state and national laws that keep Iowans safe from intimate partner violence and sexual predators. 

The Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault and the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence also have general information about violence against women in Iowa, how to get involved in ending violence against women, and how to advocate for victim support services.

Self Defense

Learning strategies for self-defense is important for women of all ages. Taking a self-defense or martial arts class can also feel extremely empowering. When researching classes you are interested in, look for classes that emphasize not only the physical aspect but also demonstrate knowledge of personal safety issues that are key for women.

Self-defense programs that will be most effective are those with instructors/curricula that address the unique experience of women. For example, many self-defense programs use scenarios where the aggressor is a stranger attacking unexpectedly. In reality, 84% of all sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim. These attacks involve emotional and psychological tactics that precede physical aggression. As a result, assertive communication and boundary setting are other key non-physical components.

Additionally, empowering self-defense programs will challenge societal attitudes that contribute to physical abuse and sexual assault, including victim blaming. If you prefer to read about self-defense prior to taking a class you may find the following helpful:

  1. When doing online searches make sure to use the word "women" in conjunction with "self defense" to yield better results.
  2. Read books that have a female perspective and/or stories of females overcoming attacks. A few examples are:
  • "Real Knockouts: The physical feminism of women's self-defense" by Martha McGaughey
  • "Beauty Bites Beast: Awakening the warrior within women and girls" by Ellen Snortland
  • "Her Wits About Her: Self-defense success stories by women" edited by Denise Caigon and Gail Grove