• VPEC

The Missing Piece of the Prevention Puzzle


The next stop on our virtual tour of violence prevention education programs across the globe is Brisbane, Australia, where ESD Global master instructor, Antonella Spatola, will be telling us about her Empowerment Self Defense (ESD) classes and how they fit in with her work in conflict mediation.


Welcome! Thank you for being here, Antonella.


Q. What are the specific and unique needs of your community need in terms of violence prevention education?


A. In Australia, there is a big piece of the puzzle missing in the area of violence prevention.


With one woman being killed every week, the Australian government, communities, and lawmakers need to shift their attention and focus on prevention rather than rehabilitation.


When I hear others talk about ‘prevention,’ they are talking about a collective movement, instead of what we at ESD Australia define as literally preventing every single unwanted situation from escalating for every single individual in an unsafe position.


Currently, education on the prevention of violence is focused on teaching perpetrators. But the education provided to the community is about learning to recognise the signs of a victim who may be in a violent relationship and initiating a conversation and providing support after the fact.


We at Empowerment Self Defence Australia believe in giving the individual the sovereign right and autonomy to educate girls and women on how to identify and interrupt violence before it escalates.

We at Empowerment Self Defence Australia believe in giving the individual the sovereign right and autonomy to educate girls and women on how to identify and interrupt violence before it escalates.


Q. How is ESD different from other forms of self-defense that you have taught?


A. Empowerment Self Defense training covers all the areas of human expression with the liberty of each class being designed for the specific ages and needs of those in the room.


As instructors, we reunite girls and women with their innate power to use their voice, be aware of their thought patterns which create breakthroughs to unleash their belief that they do have a right to assert their boundaries and remain emotionally and physically safe.


As instructors, we reunite girls and women with their innate power to use their voice, be aware of their thought patterns which create breakthroughs to unleash their belief that they do have a right to assert their boundaries and remain emotionally and physically safe.

A multitude of strategies and concepts are taught so each individual can absorb the learnings and can begin to redefine what protecting their whole self means.



Q. You have a background in mediation and psychology. How do you include violence prevention education into those areas of your work? How does your background influence your ESD classes?


A. I began my psychology degree and my training as a Wing Chun instructor in1996. Ever since, I have amalgamated the two areas to teach from an empowered and transformational space.


I have also been mediating in conflict resolution.


I have created my own niche that combines mediation and ESD and focuses on the power of words.


Our communication is paramount from the moment we engage in a verbal conversation.


It's important to learn ways of responding to and dealing with words that are derogatory, condescending, patronising, abusive, manipulative etc. It's also important to take into consideration that this could be somebody's way of testing your boundaries and seeing what they can get away with saying.


Responding assertively and directly as soon as you sense a red flag sends a powerful message.

Responding assertively and directly as soon as you sense a red flag sends a powerful message. It takes practice, and we practice by participating in role plays.


In addition, I get insights into the personality types of my students and discuss their challenges when it comes to identifying inappropriate behaviours and their blocks in not being able to assert themselves.


My knowledge in personal development and conflict resolution gives my students the opportunity to look at their personality type and develop their skills using different scenarios.


Women tell me all the time they wished they learned this growing up.


Thanks again, Antonella! We love hearing about your invaluable work.


Learn more about Antonella.


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