Indelible: Campus Sexual Violence

Empowerment Self-Defense

Episode Summary

For the final episode of Indelible’s first season, we end on a note of hope. Join us as we dive into our survivor Rachel's story, and learn how they have begun to heal from their assault through empowerment self-defense

Episode Transcription

Rachel:  It's not just in those really threatening situations that I benefit. It's more just like walking around in my everyday life and not having to be so hyper-vigilant, or when I do feel myself being hyper-vigilant, being able to calm myself and be like, you know what? I know what to do if something happens. I have options, I feel more in control of the situation.

[theme music]

Annie: I’m your host, Annie, and this is Indelible: a class, a podcast, and a conversation about sexual violence. In this episode, we’re going to talk about empowerment self-defense, a special kind of self-defense that combines verbal and physical techniques to avoid or combat a broad spectrum of violence. Research shows that people who have taken empowerment self-defense classes feel significantly less anxious and more self-confident, and that they’re statistically less likely to experience sexual violence. In today’s episode, we’ll talk with Rachel, a survivor who took an empowerment self-defense class a couple years after their assault. That was their voice you heard at the beginning of the episode. We’ll also talk with Dr. Jocelyn Hollander, a sociologist at the University of Oregon who both studies and teaches empowerment self-defense, and Dr. Mellisa Holtzman, a sociologist right here at Ball State University who co-founded an innovative sexual assault prevention program called Elemental.

This podcast includes descriptions of sexual assault. As always, please do what you need to do to take care of yourself as you listen, whatever that might mean for you. 

Let’s listen to Rachel’s story. 

Rachel: I was assaulted by, it was an acquaintance, it was like a friend of one of my roommates. I was still in high school when I was assaulted. It was just a few months before graduation. I was assaulted by someone who was in their twenties and got me drunk and assaulted me.  I was living on my own at the time, and it happened at my home and I felt very unsafe, so I actually had to move out for a few weeks and find a new place to live. And so it was just very, I don't know. Very, very traumatic and disruptive in all aspects. 

Annie: After their assault, Rachel struggled with anxiety and depression, along with the fear that they would be assaulted again. 

Rachel: I mean I had PTSD before I was assaulted, but it definitely compounded that whole problem.

Annie: Rachel dealt with these ongoing fears as they began their college career. One day, one of their sociology professors mentioned a project she had helped to create: a sexual assault protection program called Elemental. That professor, Mellisa Holtzman, encouraged Rachel to sign up for the class. 

Rachel: I took Elemental in the fall of 2017, which was this, it was the same time that same semester that the #MeToo campaign was really taking off. And so it was a very stressful time in my life for myself and I feel like a lot of other survivors and so I actually, I really enjoyed taking this class. I'm glad that I had it in that semester because I felt like this is a very big and overwhelming problem, not just for me but for people everywhere. And this is one small, actual, actionable step that I can take to make it better. And by telling my other friends about it and recommending things to them and sharing different tips that I learned and things like that, felt like I could actually improve the situation in my sphere of influence and do what I could. 

Annie:  The class combines the martial art of To-Shin Do with discussions on things like consent and de-escalating a situation before it gets violent. Different empowerment self-defense classes may use different forms of martial arts, and of course different reading material and videos--or no videos at all--to support the curriculum, but what all of these classes do have in common is that they combine physical, verbal, and mental aspects of self-defense, instead of focusing on only the physical. The idea is to give students tools for the entire spectrum of sexual violence, not just violent physical assault by a stranger. Being able to talk your way out of a situation is just as important as being able to fight your way out. These classes also aim to educate students about sexual assault in general, from statistics to psychology. 

Rachel: We met once a week for an hour…. Not all of the weeks were we actually learning different moves and things like that. Some of it was just reading and discussion and things like that. We learned a lot of different ways to protect yourself and to learn that there's more than one way to respond to a threat and things like that, and it's all depending on how you feel in that moment. There's a lot of research about how Elemental is effective and how it reduces your risk of being assaulted or assaulted again and things like that. But honestly, in that way I benefit, but also I benefit just in my everyday, just walking around and feeling like I have more control over what happens to me and that I have—Yeah, I have, I feel more empowered, more safe in my own skin and things like that. 

Annie: In the aftermath of an assault, one of the best things a survivor can do is regain their sense of control. Because of that, empowerment self-defense isn’t just important for avoiding assault in the future—it’s also important for those who are already survivors. To go further in-depth about the science behind these classes and their many benefits, we brought in Dr. Jocelyn Hollander. 

Dr. Hollander: Yeah, let me talk about my research and teaching cause I'm both a self-defense researcher and a self-defense teacher. 

Annie: Dr. Hollander is a professor of sociology at the University of Oregon who has done extensive research on gender and the effects of women’s self-defense training for preventing violence. 

Dr. Hollander: I've been doing research on self-defense for women since actually the early 2000s, about 2002. And I started the project because of my own experience taking self-defense when I was an undergraduate a long time ago. I was actually talked into taking a self defense class by my roommate who said, "I've met these great people, you have to take this class with me." And I was like, "no, I'm not really interested in that, that's not my thing." And she was really, really persistent and I was really, really not able to say no to her. So she talked me into taking this class and I found it to be entirely life-changing, like transformative. It really changed the way that I saw the world, I thought about the world, I felt about myself, and the competence I had. And you know, it was kind of mind-blowing. And then when I went to graduate school, and when I became a professor, I thought, "Hey, this is an interesting thing to research. I wonder if there's any research on this." And I looked and there wasn't any research, really. It was one study on self-defense training, which I thought was pretty curious because it was so effective for me.

Annie: So Dr. Hollander did the research herself. She set up a study comparing students who had taken an empowerment self-defense course and students who had not. The results were strongly in favor of the self-defense students. 

Dr. Hollander: They'd had fewer assaults in every single category we looked at. So fewer experiences of rape—actually, they had no experiences of rape compared with the other group—and they had fewer experiences of attempted assault, fewer experiences of sexual coercion and fewer experiences of any kind of unwanted sexual contact. And the reduction in the rate of those things was 50% or more. In some cases it was 100% because there were no rapes at all. So that was a pretty exciting finding. 

Annie: In the years since then, other researchers have backed up those statistics with their own findings.

Dr. Hollander: There are a couple of other studies that have been done since I did mine on the same topic, and they have actually found really similar things. So there's a big study that was done in Canada by a researcher named Charlene Senn, and she got a huge grant and was able to look at three different universities and have a lot of people in her sample…. And she found exactly the same things, a 50% reduction in rape and other kinds of sexual assault, which was great to see that same thing happening in a different country and multiple universities, slightly different programs.

Annie: Those are fantastic numbers. But how are these classes different from karate or taekwondo? When we asked what makes empowerment self-defense unique, this was Dr. Hollander’s response. 

Dr. Hollander: There are a couple of things actually, there's several things that distinguish it. One is that it's really evidence-based. And by that I mean two things. One is that we teach things that have been shown to actually work in the kinds of situations that women in particular are more likely to face. And it's also evidence-based in thinking about what kinds of situations are most likely to confront those people. 

Annie: As we’ve mentioned in previous episodes, most sexual assaults are carried out by someone the victim knows. In Rachel’s case, it was a roommate’s friend: someone they didn’t know very well, but still well enough that they wouldn’t have wanted to roundhouse kick him. 

Rachel: If it's someone you know, you're probably not going to immediately jump to breaking their nose or, I dunno, breaking their thumbs or something like that. There's probably other things, other steps that you're going to take before that, where some, like, just self defense classes don't really understand that.

Dr. Hollander: So empowerment self-defense classes really focus on this broad range of techniques that you would use not just for a stranger but also for somebody you know. So the verbal stuff and the emotional stuff. So it's evidence-based, it's comprehensive in that empowerment self-defense doesn't just look at the most extreme situations with someone who is trying to actually sexually assault you. It's also about sexual harassment, everyday kinds of indignities, incursions and disrespect that you might face as well. 

Rachel: What I liked about this program is that each section, every few weeks we'd move on to a new section, like starting with stranger assault and then we also did acquaintances and then protecting yourself at, I dunno, parties, and then another one on hookups and different things like that. It explored all these actual real life situations that you encounter, not just, like, someone tries to jump you in a parking garage, you know. It explored real situations that as young people and young women especially we encounter often. 

Dr. Hollander: It does seem to reduce the actual risk of violence after taking an empowerment self-defense class, but it has a bunch of other important effects. And that goes back to that sense that I had when I was an undergraduate that it was transformative in a lot of different ways. It seems to increase people's self-confidence a lot. We call it self-efficacy. It seems to increase their confidence, first of all that they could defend themselves if they needed to in a situation, but also increases their competence in many other aspects of their lives…. It also seems to, in some studies, reduce people's fear and anxiety. People said to me in some of the interviews that they were really afraid of violence for a long time. They felt fearful all the time in lots of different situations, and learning self-defense in this kind of way helped them feel like they could deal with those situations so they didn't have to be as afraid, because they had the sense that if something comes up, I can handle it, I can do something about it. And that just kind of makes them feel more comfortable in the world. 

Rachel: The audience listening to this won't be able to see me, but I'm a pretty scrawny, scrappy person. But yeah, feeling that I can defend myself and hold my own in a threatening situation is just so, it's such an amazing gift to have. I think sometimes, I think about it most often when I'm walking to my car after work or picking up groceries or something like that.

Dr. Hollander: The classes that I've studied and the classes that I teach do include the forceful physical skills, but they also teach a lot more. The class that we are currently teaching here at the University of Oregon is about half and half. They spend half the time in the classroom in the gym doing, learning physical self-defense techniques. But then they spend another half of time in more of a classroom situation where they're doing a lot of different stuff like verbal self-defense and assertiveness and boundary setting and information about assault. So it's a much broader kind of approach to self-protection than what might many people have in their heads about self-defense.

Rachel: Elemental is designed to be really conscious of the fact that people that go through it probably have been victimized before and that there's a good chance people will be victimized again. And how can they respond to it, not just physically, but also mentally, and taking that into account. I don't think that would've been part of a just self-defense class.

Annie: People who don’t know much about empowerment self-defense and all of the specialized training that goes into it may believe that promoting these classes puts the burden on victims to avoid assault, which is another form of victim blaming. Shouldn’t we be teaching people not to rape, rather than teaching people to avoid rape? 

Dr. Hollander: Sometimes people think that if women take a self-defense class, they're going to blame themselves more for things that might have happened to them in the past or if something happened to them in the future, they'll blame themselves if they're not able to cope with it. And the research suggests exactly the opposite, that actually they blame themselves less. Which is, you know, exactly the outcome you'd want.  So, I understand people's sense that women should not be responsible, people who are targeted by violence should not be responsible for stopping it. But I don't think that this makes people responsible for stopping it. I think we can sort of hold an idea in our head that even though we're training the people who are being targeted, it doesn't mean—just because you're being trained doesn't mean you're being held responsible. 

Annie: Dr. Hollander also brought up some concerns she has about bystander intervention being the main form of prevention used by universities.

Dr. Hollander: Bystander intervention is a great idea. I love the concept that we change social norms and that we train everybody to, you know, connect to everybody else. But so far there have been, to my knowledge, there's no really good evidence that it changes people's risk of being targeted for assault. There is evidence that it changes people's intentions to intervene, and maybe even they say that they do intervene more, but the reality is that most assaults don't happen in the presence of other people. So just training bystanders has got some real logical problems from my perspective because you're going to be missing that whole set of assaults that happens in isolation. That's what perpetrators do. They try to isolate people. So I mean, just logically we can't focus on stopping perpetrators yet, because we don't know how to do that. What we do know is that self-defense training does seem to reduce people's risk of victimization and that if we know it works and it works a lot, I feel like we have a moral, ethical responsibility to use this and make it available. 

Annie: Bystander intervention is essential, but it isn’t enough on its own. In many situations, there are no bystanders to intervene, and victims must fend for themselves alone. Although bystander intervention training isn’t the only thing universities provide, Dr. Hollander isn’t the only professional who feels that our institutions aren’t doing enough to stop sexual violence. Let’s hear from another.  

Dr. Holtzman: My profession? I am a sociology professor. I am also the director of Elemental. I can't lay claim to any of the original ideology or any of the, I guess, the ideas behind Elemental, but I was part of the process kind of from its inception. 

Annie: This is Dr. Mellisa Holtzman, the co-founder of Elemental and the professor who encouraged Rachel to sign up for the program. 

Dr. Holtzman: Self-defense is a really important piece of sexual assault prevention because sexual assault is a multifaceted issue. It's a very complex issue. And the way the field of prevention typically addresses this issue right now is to focus only on what we call primary prevention. So primary prevention is educational programming aimed at changing the culture that we live in, changing the way we think about assault, raising awareness around issues of consent and bodily integrity and things of that nature, and promoting bystander intervention. 

Annie: You may have gone through this type of programming in your first year of college. If you remember any videos or presentations about consent, alcohol, or other safety concerns, those are examples of primary prevention.

Dr. Holtzman: So those are the pieces that most programming focuses on. We know, however, from research that individually primary prevention is not effective at reducing assault rates. We also know from research that when you introduce really well done self-defense…. it does very strongly impact rates of assault. And if the end goal is to lower rates of assault, we need that piece as part of that puzzle for dealing with that…. So, ideologically the field has been opposed to self-defense for many years. It's starting to come back around in part because of research on Elemental, on Charlene Senn's program, on Jocelyn Hollander's program. So those programs, you know, empowerment self-defense programs, are starting to demonstrate to the field that self-defense does matter. It has a place and it needs to be part of the prevention circle. 

Annie: While empowerment self-defense is effective and should be used alongside other forms of prevention and education, we want to acknowledge that even if you learn these techniques, there is still a risk of being assaulted, and nothing can erase that risk entirely. 

Rachel: Mellisa, our instructor, stated many times: you know, you can go through this whole class, you can know every move by heart and all these things like that. And when you get into the moment and you feel threatened, you might freeze up or you might forget everything. And there's no way for us to completely prevent you from being assaulted again. And in that situation, you're still not at fault. The responsibility is still not yours if you're assaulted and things like that. And so that was really, I dunno, that was just really healing to be able to understand. 

Annie: This is an important point. Even if you take a class like Elemental, when the time comes and you’re in a real, dangerous situation, you might forget everything and freeze. But part of empowerment self-defense is talking about that possibility, rather than ignoring it. 

Dr. Hollander: Yeah, the freezing response. First of all, we always talk to our classes about how the freezing response is a natural—it's a natural response. It's a neurological response that many of many of us have to freeze as a self-protective response. So, first of all, we normalize it and talk about how it is a natural response. Because sometimes people feel like it's wrong and they shouldn't do it, but it is normal. But we also talk about how practice can really help, if you practice a lot responding in a different way, then if you're in a situation, that bodily memory may come to the fore and may be more accessible to you. So we do lots of lots and lots of practice with repetition. It  can't completely eliminate that freeze response, but it does seem to decrease it significantly. And we also talk about people, we talk about not about not blaming oneself or whatever one's response is, because whatever you did in that situation is what you needed to do for yourself. 

Annie: By talking about how common it is to freeze up in the face of danger, we can begin to erase the myth that survivors who didn’t fight back are at fault for their assault. Conversations about the psychology behind sexual violence are part of what makes empowerment self-defense so valuable. Even though these classes can’t prevent assault 100% of the time, the emotional benefits that come from real information and education are worth so much. 

Rachel: Just being in the same room with other people, knowing that—actually being able to name, "Hey, sexual assault is something that's really serious on college campuses and it happens to a lot of us." And actually talking about the issue openly in a classroom is kinds of, it's pretty rare. But also to do that in a healing or a restorative space definitely made me feel, afterwards, more comfortable and open sharing what happened. 

Annie: This course had such a powerful and lasting effect on their life that Rachel believes classes like Elemental should be a required course. 

Rachel: I do, yeah. I really do…. I feel that in some ways it should be required and mandatory. I understand if someone had experienced an assault very recently how it might be triggering or maybe too overwhelming for them, despite best efforts to make it a comforting environment, things like that. But I do think it should definitely be, more students should participate in it than what it is right now. Yeah.

Annie: However, making classes like Elemental more widely available is no easy task. Dr. Holtzman and other professors have run into all sorts of obstacles when they try to spread empowerment self-defense to other schools. 

Dr. Holtzman:I go to conferences all over the country on a really regular basis talking about Elemental, demonstrating Elemental, giving people access to the research about Elemental. And what I hear over and over again is "that it's an amazing program that is so wonderful, I would love to have that on my campus," but then their ability to actually get that on their campus to get through the bureaucratic hoops that are required to get a new program adopted are really hard. And so having to navigate that bureaucracy has probably been for me the most challenging part of this entire process. Because we know we have something that works, we've tested it, we've published that science backs all that up. And people that see the program loved the program, but then loving the program and being able to get a university administration to adopt it, those are two very separate things. And so that has really been the biggest challenge, the constant work trying to proliferate and show people that this is worthwhile to adopt, this would benefit their students, et cetera.

Annie: It’s a slow battle, but proponents of empowerment self-defense are working to reach more people each year, little by little. One recent improvement has been an attempt to include other genders, rather than limiting these kinds of classes to only women. 

Dr. Hollander: There are still some classes out there that say that they are women only. But in my experience, that's really the minority of classes right now. There has been a sea change in the last five to ten years with real efforts to be inclusionary and to include folks who are being targeted for violence. And we know that the trans community is targeted at a much higher rate than the cisgender community. And so being aware of that and being embracing and bringing people in is I think the goal.

Dr. Holtzman: When I have a class where we have one or two men enroll, and I don't think I've ever had more than three enrolled at any one time, the only shift you feel or see is the very beginning when you're, you know, when the class is first getting set up and people are looking around the room and trying to figure out who's there and how that's going to manifest itself. There's a little bit of kind of, hmm, curiosity, maybe a little bit of unease. But as things unfold and I talk about the inclusivity of Elemental and why it was designed this way and why it's important. And then in the very second that the second scenario that we deal with the victim is a male, which is unexpected to the students initially, but it makes for a really excellent conversation. So by the time we get there people are generally super comfortable and haven't been bothered by the fact that there are men in the room. Anecdotally I can say that students have said yes, they were a little kind of leery initially. But as things unfolded, they were super comfortable. They appreciated that the program was open in that way, and so that uniqueness actually ends up being a benefit and a plus. People see it as positive even though it might make some of the women a little kind of leery initially. So most people end up kind of coming around and appreciate it. 

Rachel: I think Mellisa did a really good job of making sure that, you know, that the environment felt safe and as comfortable as it can, knowing that statistically speaking a lot of the students that she was dealing with had experienced assault and things like that. So just creating a safe environment. I felt a lot of camaraderie with the other students. I think we had like 15 or so in our class and I felt pretty close to them, I think, so by the end of it just in the way that we were able to learn and kind of heal together. 

Annie: Thanks to professors like Mellisa and years of talking through their experiences with a therapist they really trusted, Rachel has come a long way and feels like they’ve healed in many ways. But not everything about that journey has been easy. When we asked Rachel what was indelible to them about their experience—the one thing they could never forget—this is what they said. 

Rachel: I would say something fairly indelible, though with therapy and other things I can work through it, is just feeling like a shame and like powerlessness and things like that. It took many, many years. My assault happened like five or six years ago and it took many, many years for me to work through that and to understand that the shame was not my own.

Annie: As we wrapped up our interview, Rachel also wanted to add a bit more about what happened the morning after their assault. 

Rachel: I think at the time, like the morning after, I couldn't even put words to what happened, but I knew something was wrong. And so I…. I ended up going to the ER and getting a rape kit done and mine is one of the thousands that have been audited in Indiana that are just sitting on a shelf untested and things like that. And I think like, that experience, I'm not gonna tell survivors what—to have a rape kit or not have a rape kit. I know that in my experience, the way that Indiana has responded, I wish that I hadn't, just because it was definitely re-traumatizing and also that nothing is happening with it. It's just sitting on a shelf now. Also, it makes me think about, what actually is justice? Is justice someone being prosecuted and sent to prison for years or they're not actually going to be rehabilitated? Where they're like, recidivism rates are actually going to increase and different things like that? What actually is justice for me personally? And I've come to the place where that is just walking around and feeling safe and finding joy in my life and connecting with people and things like that. In a way that I feel like defies or rebels against the shame that I experienced. 

Annie: There were a lot of important questions raised right there. As Rachel said, rape kits may end up sitting in warehouses for months or years without much being done with them, which is just one more problem in the system that needs to improve. There are many, many things that need to change in our culture to help the fight against sexual violence. We’ve explored a lot of those things on this podcast, but there’s so much more we just haven’t had time to talk about. This issue is bigger than any one of us. That’s why talking about this stuff, doing our best to stay informed, and being there for each other is so vital. Every conversation matters. [beat] Before we wrap up, there’s one more indelible memory we want to share with you. We asked Dr. Hollander what’s been unforgettable about her own career. This is what she said. 

Dr. Hollander: Okay. I think that the thing that was most indelible…. there was kind of a moment in my own training when I suddenly thought, wow, I really have not just the ability to do this, to do the physical part especially, but I also have the right to, I can, I really have the right to take care of myself. I have the right to, you know, protect myself. I have the right to be safe. And that was a really transformative thought that—it sounds funny to say it out loud because of course we all have the right to protect ourselves. That's just something we take for granted in this country. But really feeling that in a deep way and really believing it was a big change and something that I attribute directly to the class that I took as an undergraduate and a senior in college. And I think that that probably a majority of the people I have talked to about their experiences in empowerment self-defense have a similar sort of moment where they suddenly got it and thought, I really do have the right to be safe. I really, really, I deserve to be safe. I deserve to take care of myself. 

Annie: And on that note, this episode and this season are coming to an end. We’ve explored the “Red Zone,” the healing process, Title IX, pursuing charges, and now a little bit of how to fight back. We’ve heard from six different survivors with very different stories, along with a small army of brilliant, kind-hearted professionals from different backgrounds who have helped us begin to untangle this complicated subject. 

Sexual violence takes power away from the survivor, and many find it difficult to gain back their voice after such a traumatic event. One of Indelible’s goals is to give back that voice through the power of storytelling, and we feel so incredibly proud and privileged to be a part of these survivors’ stories. 

Before I hand you off to our executive producer for the end credits, I’d like to read a quote from Chanel Miller, the survivor from the Brock Turner case who recently told her own story in her 2019 memoir. In Know My Name, Miller says, “Hold up your head when the tears come, when you are mocked, insulted, questioned, threatened, when they tell you you are nothing, when your body is reduced to openings. The journey will be longer than you imagined, trauma will find you again and again. Do not become the ones who hurt you. Stay tender with your power. Never fight to injure, fight to uplift. Fight because you know that in this life, you deserve safety, joy, and freedom. Fight because it is your life. Not anyone else's.”

 And now, to bring us to the end: our executive producer, Jill Christman, as always. Thanks, Jill. 

Jill:  Wow. What a fantastic episode to end our first season. Thank you, Annie, for being the voice of Indelible. Chanel Miller’s memoir is stunning—courageous, empathetic, empowering. Everything we aspire to be here at Indelible, and all of you who have stuck with us, listening to each episode as it emerged during this crazy pandemic spring are part of that. This fall, many of us will be returning to our campuses where the threat of sexual violence will be layered with the danger of virus transmission. Our work to make our campuses and—as this episode emphasized—ourselves safer is more important than ever. After studying campus sexual violence these past nine months, what hurts and what helps, I firmly believe that empowerment self-defense courses should be required on every campus.

I hope you’ll visit us at our newly redesigned website (thank you, Bella and Jonah!) for more information about our podcast and resources for getting involved—or getting help. We provide a link to each episode’s transcript, and there, we embed resources. If you look for episode five at indelible podcast dot com, you’ll find links to access empowerment self-defense courses in your area, as well as organizations—such as defend yourself dot org—currently offering online options for training. 

Thirty years ago when I myself was a college student, I was raped at a fraternity party. A couple years later, still healing, I took a class called Self Defense from the Inside Out with one of the forerunners in empowerment self-defense, Nadia Telsey, at the University of Oregon. This was in the early nineties. That class changed my life in ways that stick with me to this day and definitely guided how I navigated my twenties and thirties. The sense of power and self-worth that class helped to instill in me played a huge part in my decision to teach this class and work with the amazing students who have created Indelible.

My Indelible moment from Nadia’s class was very similar to Jocelyn Hollander’s, and I remember the precise moment it clicked in my brain: Don’t ask yourself "what will he think of me?" Nadia instructed us, ask yourself, what do I think of him? YOU matter. YOU are valuable. YOU deserve space in this world, on the street, and in your own homes. You deserve to feel and be safe.

We all do—and I never forgot that lesson. Please visit us at indelible podcast dot com to read more about what we do, and be sure to check out the articles you’ll find there about our history and our dreams for the future of Indelible—that our work will go on, the podcast will continue into future seasons with help from students and faculty across the country, and that, together, we will grow this movement in numbers and in power.

Before I sign off for the season, I want to give one more big shout out to all of the students who built Indelible. I am so proud of all of you. To the wonderful human we know here as Rachel: thank you for sharing your story. To our guest experts, Dr. Jocelyn Hollander and Dr. Mellisa Holtzman: thank you so much for your contribution. Special thanks to Liv and Marissa, our reporters for today’s episode, to our scriptwriters, Kaitlyn, Bekah, and Jonah—and as always, to Lizzy, for making us sound so good. 

Perpetual gratitude to our community partners, The Facing Project and Jana’s Campaign, and to our production consultant, Lantigua Williams & Co. 

Indelible is made possible by the Virginia B. Ball Center for Creative Inquiry at Ball State University. Visit us at indelible podcast dot com, follow us on social media for updates, and join the conversation. 

As always, if you or someone you know needs help, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1.800.656.4673, that’s 1.800.656.HOPE for free, confidential support 24/7.

I want to close by returning to Chanel Miller’s words. She says: “Stay tender with your power. Never fight to injure, fight to uplift. Fight because you know that in this life, you deserve safety, joy, and freedom.”

Yes. All of that. Treat yourself with gentleness today. I’m Jill Christman, and this has been Indelible. 


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