Dear Mark & Derek,
It has been a year since we attended your workshop in Port Elizabeth, and I don’t think you could ever know what an impact it had on me and my daughter (and the two tweenies who attended with us). While we have had much to heal from, picking up the pieces of our lives after a violent crime, we both, in our own way, carried the scars. And yes, you put the incident behind you and you move on with your life, because you have to, but somewhere, deep down, you always feel as if you have lost your power. You live in fear – and while that fear isn’t always visible, it always bubbles beneath the surface and presents itself in the form of anxiety, paranoia, OCD-like behaviour… All in an attempt to have control over something. And you bleed on people who didn’t cut you, as the saying goes.
11 August 2018 was the date. And so much has changed since then. Thanks to you, we walked out of that workshop feeling in control. Somehow, every single part of this workshop resonated, and it changed the way we view the world around us. No amount of therapy could have given us what we took away on that day from WIP. And both Lee and I have used what we learnt that day, to help and educate others.
And here is the reason for my email: Over 100,000 women from all over South Africa have joined hands on a FB group called SA Women Fight Back. So many companies have come forward to offer assistance in some form or another, and one of them is offering nationwide discounts on a course in Krav Maga. One day. And that got me thinking to what you said in our workshop. Self-defence courses are all good, but… you know the drill.
Please please please can you guys do another workshop? One like you did in PE? Do it nationwide and help these ladies understand – id you look at the story of Lindi-Mae Humphries (https://www.facebook.com/lindimae/posts/10158917207487729) – and I wondered whether she attended the workshop with us on 11 August 2018 – because read what she says about getting out, getting away and not allowing them to take her somewhere else. It likely saved her life. More women need to hear this. And the way you guys present, is perfect – for all ages.
Meanwhile, I am forever grateful for the day I attended. It made a huge difference!
Good Afternoon Mark
My name is ………….. and I attended your INpowered workshop last week Thursday at……………… house in Kyalami.
I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed it and share a little bit about how I feel after the workshop. Before the workshop I was very down, very self conscious, self doubting, anxious person. This was due to a bad relationship I have recently got out of (explained later). I was also very jumpy, nervous to go out, didn’t like people giving me surprises or coming up to me too quickly due to a mugging from some years ago (also to be explained).
I’ll start with the bad relationship as it is the most recent. About 4 months ago I got out of a emotionally and mentally abusive relationship. I was always one of those girls who said oh that will never happen to me, I will be able to spot a bad guy before a relationship starts. But here I sit. He would always put me down, tell me I wasn’t good enough, my ideas were stupid, my ideas for my business were stupid. I would work my ass off at gym to look perfect for him just for him to tell me he sees no difference. He would tell me what to wear and make me very self conscious. It started to impact on my horse riding as he said he doesn’t understand it and would always undermine it. I always made excuses until I finally had enough and started to see what was going on and left the relationship.
This didn’t mean I was happy. I still wanted to go back to him and could not understand why! He made me feel like crap everyday and there I was wanting to go back to him! It wasn’t until I really took in your lessons that I started to understand what went wrong. He would break me down, make me feel useless and then compliment me so I would think he’s a good guy and become dependent on him to feel good about myself. I realize now that it was not that my business had no potential or was a bad idea, he was threatened by a strong, accomplished women and couldn’t bare to see me doing better than him! Since the relationship ended my business has thrived! It’s taken off in ways I would never have imagined. I still feel down sometimes but when I do I watch that video of me breaking that bored and it reminds me that I am in control. I have no reason to feel guilt and shame and I am so much stronger than I believe!
Onto the mugging story. This happened on the New Years of 2015 (my Matric Year). We were in St Francis Bay and we had just finished the count down to midnight. Myself and a few friends decided that we wanted to go to a different party down the road. None of us had our cars and those who were driving I didn’t trust were sober enough. The other bar was no more than 3km down the road. We figured we always walk around this town and nothing has gone wrong before so we should be safe (I can hear you voice now mocking me “it’s never happened before” haha). I was with about 5 other people, 4 of which were in relationships with each other. We started walking and I was talking to the other single guy. We suddenly looked up and saw the the couples had disappeared. Not thinking much of it we carried on.
We decided to walk a little further from the road and closer to the fence of the golf course as we thought we would have less chance of being hit by a drunk driver. There were no street lights at that time so it was very dark and seconds before the mugging I had this sick feeling in this pit of my stomach. A second later a man jumped out from nowhere and grabbed my little bag that I was carrying. I still doing know why I did it but I decided to hold onto the bag and try grab it back. He then proceeded to beat me. The guy that was with me I think was in so much shock he just stood dead still. Finally the long strap of the bag snapped and the man stopped beating me and ran off. The guy I was with suddenly decided to jump into action and ran after the guy, caught him, also got beaten and the guy stole his wallet.
Luckily neither of us were seriously injured, Just a few bruises and a nasty headache. The longer lasting impact was more of a mental/emotional one. Since that night, I don’t like people standing too close to me, if anyone comes up behind me I go cold. If they give me a fright I scream. Once at university I was walking down to my car and I could feel someone walking behind me. I got more and more scared until I looked behind me and just almost had a flashback and screamed at the top of my lungs and it was just a poor student listening to music trying to get to his car. I think I may have traumatized him for life. I have nightmares often about someone jumping up and grabbing me (the same dream every time and it still scares me every time). I can’t stay out past midnight. I’ll have an amazing night out with friends, be having an amazing time and suddenly I feel anxious and want to go home and it’s always just before midnight. Since that night I have not gone out on New Years. I always say I will and as the day comes I chicken out.
Since the workshop I have noticed a difference. I feel more confident and comfortable when I am out in public. I’m not as bothered with people standing so close to me. The other day I was feeling nervous and I was immediately reminded that I have another option. I am going to st Francis again this year so I guess we will see how it goes with New Years and staying out later. But I am confident that I will feel safer!
Your workshop has helped in so many ways! Most of them I would have never suspected. I still have a long way to go but I have you to thank for the start!
Onwards and upwards from here!
Thank you so much!
We all go through life saying; “It won’t happen to me”. We hope and pray that we will not be placed in a potentially life-threatening situation, facing death or rape. The reality is that it does happen, and I know that through WIP I have been given a choice. I decide how to respond. I choose!
Thank you for affording me the opportunity to be more aware and to know that I have a choice.
I just wanted to say thank you for an awesome course. I have put the link on my facebook page PLUS pic of me and Emily that Erin took of us “breaking the wood”. Yeah!!!!!!!
Besides the “breaking of the wood”, I learnt a few things else which now makes me feel safer and more content.
- I have a choice.
- I can defend myself.
- I can change a tyre – Hee Hee Hee – will still call hubby though.
- I know my daughter will be able to protect herself in that big bad world. She is so protected from the evils out there and armed with this life changing skill she has a choice.
Our daughters who are leaving school soon to go into that big bad world need a chance to survive. I believe that I have given my daughter that chance and I am comfortable to send her to a strange town to a residence or digs and know she can look after herself. Not only has WIP taught her that physically but on a mental level too. She is aware and knows she has a choice. For me, it has made me confident to face the world and not worry about driving home after dark on my own, or getting lost etc. I don’t feel like I must hide away because I now know I can defend myself.
I believe this course if vital for our daughters. They have grown up in a protected environment, being driven everywhere (we walked everywhere) etc, and we need to empower them to be able to survive. I support any drive to educate more young girls in this fantastic course.
Thanks Mark again and well done to all the other course members.
I am a student at Parktown Girls. I would like to thank you for coming to our school and giving us the opportunity and knowledge to break that plank. I would like to share my Story with u.
I was raped by my uncle when l was 11 years old. I was only able to talk it after 2years.
He attended the trail where he was found not guilty. I was never able to forgive and forget. The day l broke that plank my life changed forever. Because l broke it l was in tears. You told me not to worry. AND I BROKE THT PLANK. AND THAT SAME DAY I MET MY UNCLE FOR THE FIRST TIME, I WAS BRAVE ENOUGH AND I GREETED HIM WITH A HUGE SMILE. BCOS I WAS FREE…
THANK YOU VERY MUCH. #IHaveAChoice😀
I thought the program was an amazing and important experience especially in the world we live in today, and I overcame many things in that moment that I broke the board. I, and my friends, enjoyed it thoroughly and it feels great knowing that I am able to protect myself and that I have a choice.
I would like to share with you exactly what the experience meant to me and what I broke and left behind me on that day:
Ever since I was young my dad has been verbally and emotionally abusive towards me due to alcohol. There’ve been situations where I was only 5 years old and he’d go out drinking and take me with him because I didn’t know any better, and he’d end up passing out leaving me stranded and confused, and when I try talk to him about it he gets very defensive or he doesn’t even remember what happened. It didn’t bother me much when I was younger, but as I got older I began to realize what was going on and I started to feel the effect that his words had on me while he wasn’t sober. For example, he’d say I’m useless and worthless, but as soon as I’d try to stand up for myself he’d scold me for being too young and disrespectful. I held back from it for a while, until one holiday in 2016 when him, his close friend and I went on a road trip through Namibia. While we were there, things were alright, but the day after we got back to his friend’s house (she lived in North West on a farm) he started with his ordeal again. His friend’s two daughters were there and they were both young adults, yet he was following them around the house screaming at them and made them both cry. He was also complaining to his friend about how “horrible her daughters are” (obviously using more profound language) and was pushing her around calling her names. So eventually I stepped in and started bossing him around like a mother; telling him what he was doing was wrong, getting food for him, etc. Long story short, he wanted to go to bed. So I put him in bed and he said he wouldn’t go to sleep without me and so I decided (wrongly) to get into bed with him. As soon as I did he began lifting my shirt and touching me, when his friend came in and let me out of the room. That night we all slept in one room with the door locked and his friend took me home the next day because I wanted to be gone before he woke up.
Since then I’ve been going to psychologists and talking to my mom, but I’d never really gotten over the situation and struggled to look at my dad in the same way. But as soon as I broke the board, it felt as though it had all been lifted. I’m now able to speak to my dad with pride and importance and stand up for myself without getting hurt, and for that I am entirely grateful.
Having done the WIP course, it has helped me feel more in control of my surroundings – in that I feel not so helpless anymore when faced with certain unusual/suspect situations. I now know that if confronted I can try my very best to either fight or flight and have the mental and yes even physical strength needed to protect myself and my family. I don’t feel that dreaded fear in my chest anymore.”
Hi Mark, Sorry this has taken a while to get to you… my apologies.
I would like to say a huge thank you for the skills learnt over the last 5 weeks. I am so pleased that both myself and Kayla were able to go through your training. This was an in-powering time for both myself and Kayla and I must say that as a mom of a young teen I really appreciate the skills Kayla has learnt. I feel happier that as she starts to spend time away from more structured adult supervision, she will be better equipped to cope in situations that are beyond her control, should they arise.
The prospect of breaking a plank was very daunting for both of us in the early weeks and many nervous discussions took place with regard this upcoming event but what joy and pride I felt to see Kayla take this bold step and do it with skill and ease! I certainly feel more in powered and confident about dealing with those ‘scary situations’ so thank you once again.
Gwen and Kayla
A very belated thank-you for an inspirational program!
I have to say that breaking a block of wood is immensely INPowering!
More to the point, your information and my subsequent reading of Alison’s book have helped me so much in my own Journey of Recovery. I was shot through the femoral artery in attempted highjacking 5 years ago. I, too, had angels and miraculous events that saved my life and my leg. After 5 days in a coma and a further week in hospital I was set loose to continue with life. I am literally in awe of Alison, what she experienced is unimaginable!
The words that spoke to me most are that feeling of being different and alone where nobody can relate to my near-death experience! It was unbelievable to see my exact feelings in print! Since the event, my life has changed so much for the better and I am a way better, happier, healthier and more relaxed person. It is such a pity that we wait for the wake-up call to appreciate life.
In my case, I chose to flee, crashed the car into a pole and was shot. I should have frozen and handed over what they wanted!
Thank you for your commitment and for making a difference in our lives!
Hi Mark, thanks for great mail. The self-confidence that I got after hitting through the block
bare knuckles and all!!!EVERY female NEEDS to be part of your uplifting, lifesaving course!
THANK YOU REGARDS THEA
I have sent a short article on WIP to Biddy to place in the next College newsletter. I am also showing all the girls I teach photos of what we did and encouraging them to sign up next time you are here.
I am still shocked that I broke the board. My friend saw a picture and now calls me Mrs Wood-breaker instead of Mrs Wood. The name seems to be catching on. My husband said that he had no doubt that I would break the board, but after actually seeing me do it, he is very impressed and bragging about what I did. Seeing is believing! He is often away (as he is a pilot) and he has no doubt that I will be able to make a choice and react in a potentially threatening situation. His mind is at ease. When discussing breaking the board with some lady friends at church, their first response was that they would never be able to do that. Isn’t it sad that they are not inpowered and feel helpless? WIP has not only given me the confidence to defend myself in threatening situations, but I am confident enough to embark on a new adventure with regards to my career and chose to believe in my own ability – rather than think of what I could do I am doing it!
My husband is framing my 2 pieces of broken wood with a photograph and my certificate. I think he is more proud of me than I am.
Thank you so much for your time and willingness to share with us at the College.
From a girl at St Marys…..
It’s the girl who cried and couldn’t break the board.
I just thought i’d write to you to tell you my experiences and why I was so emotional about the whole task.
On my board you may not have seen but the words I wrote were “My Dad” . My dad is my barrier because he has caused a lot of pain for my family and I do blame myself for it. when I was 4 I was diagnosed with leukaemia (blood cancer). This was a rough time for my family and after three years I was cancer free, however when I was in grade 4 my teacher told me in front of the whole grade that I was the reason my parents got a divorce because I put so much strain on them with my cancer. I still carry that comment with me because if my parents didn’t get divorced my dad would not be how he is today.
2 and a half years ago my dad disowned me and told me he never wanted to see me again. At this point he had already disowned my older sister. He stopped us seeing our grandparents (his parents) whom we used to see every Sunday. My uncles and grandparents eventually moved to England to get away from my dad as he threatened them with many things. My brother actually spoke to them for the first time in almost four years as he still sees my dad.
My mum is a single mum and does struggle financially and my dad keeps cutting maintenance so my mum has a lot on her shoulders and its hard watching that when there is very little you can do.
I am constantly in fear of my dad and I have many nightmares and some mental issues as a result of what he has and is still doing.
the reason I cried was because I wanted to break the board and be stronger than my dad but because I have so much fear I couldn’t do it the first time ,it was the feeling of not being able to break the board and not being able to overcome him.
I think your program is amazing and I am so happy I did it and I do feel like I have accomplished something but because I could not break it the first time made me a little upset. Thank you for putting a smile o my face every LO lesson and teaching me I have a choice, not just with issues of rape but i have a choice not to let my dad hold me back so much because i can do it and I’m stronger than I thought.
Today I took your course and it had a major impact on me. I’ve never been sexually assaulted and I’ve never been abused or anything like that but I still think my story is relevant.
On the sixth of October 2017, my mother was killed. She was walking across the road and a truck was speeding, drove onto the wrong lane and killed her. In just minutes. I’ve blamed myself for a very long time. I blamed myself for not being with her and for not seeing her for five days before that but there was and still is nothing I can do but today I promised myself I would let it go. Today, on my WIP board I wrote the words: Driver, Mom, Hate and Fault. Walking up to the board and being able to take out at least a little bit of my anger was exhilarating. Self defence would not have saved my mom or taken my guilt away but being given the CHANCE and the CHOICE to move forward will always be appreciated. I’d like to thank you for the chance that you’ve given to me. My story is minor and will not change the world but this has changed my world and for that I am grateful.
When my parents told me they were getting divorced, I was devastated. I felt that my world was shattered. What made that time of my life worse, was my father’s abusiveness. It started when I was in Grade 5 and my marks dropped badly. He would come home and give me a beating without having a reason for it. I didn’t understand why because he doesn’t drink or smoke. I went for counseling until the end of last year but I stopped going because my mother didn’t want us (my sister, my mom and I) to have other people solving our problems forever. My mom and I are close and we have our differences but she’s taught me a lot about getting up and perseverance so I’ve learned to forgive my father although I still find it hard to love him and “forgive and forget” like everyone wants me to, but it is still very frustrating when I go to him on weekends because he talks to me like I don’t know anything and sometimes swears me when I make honest mistakes etc. I wrote “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” because my always tells me that and I really believe it so when I didn’t break the board the first time, I immediately felt discouraged but after Derrick reassured me, I punched the board broken and that was the moment that I really felt INpowered. WIP has changed my perspective and I feel that I am aore positive person. I also shared my experience with my mom and she too says that what WIP does is absolutely amazing. Thank you thank you for all you have done. Continue changing lives, as you’ve done with mine and I hope that only good goes your way.
Firstly, I would just like to thank you for this incredible experience. Not only did I overcome obstacles in my life, I also became more aware of women’s stories. On the day, you said we could write something on our boards that we want to overcome. As the permanent marker went around, I looked around and I saw one girl write “everything”. I admired her bravery for writing something down. Now although I didn’t write anything, before I punched the board, I thought them. I thought about the situations at home (my parents are separating and we’ve lost many loved ones these past few years) so I knew that if I could punch that board, then I could overcome anything.
Now as we left the gym, my friend got a message saying that someone she knew in our grade passed away that morning. She was a twin and the twin was on exchange and could only find out when she landed the following day. And a while ago, a boy I was close with and who also had a twin, passed away. So why am I telling you this?
I would like you to go to DGC (the school of the girl whom passed away) and INpower our grade there, because they deserve an experience that will show them they can get through this. They need a reason to smile and above all they need that sense of community.
This all helped me realize everyone’s ongoing struggles and that together we can come out stronger from them.
So, thank you.
Thanks so much for a fabulous course. To be honest, in the beginning I was a little skeptical, I mean how can one learn to punch right through a board in 5 short weeks?! You also started off asking if any of us in the room thought we could take out a giant rugby player, and when everyone said “no way” I thought even if you could teach us something (that would immobilize a 125kg man – although doubtful) pray tell HOW easy was this going to be to implement in real life, after all I am just a little ol’ woman and stand NO chance against an attacker!
WELL! Not only was my skepticism swiftly put in its place, but I truly believe in my heart of hearts that I can easily, without fear and much effort kick a rugby players ass! There will be no messing with me J The technique you teach is SOOOOOOOOOO simple and easy to remember and apply when terror strikes, that I would recommend this course to anyone and everyone.
Breaking through a 30mm (?) plank at the end was just a bonus. It was as though the plank didn’t even exist it was so easy to do. Whilst danger might cross my path in the future (touch wood), I now feel that I have a skill that can be utilized to get me to a place of safety. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I truly feel INpowered J
Just wanted to say how fortunate I feel to have had the opportunity to do WIP. It was such an exhilarating and empowering experience and I can truly say that I feel that I now have a choice. I will continue spreading the word to all my lady friends as I believe that the course adds exceptional value and is a must for any lady out there. Thank you for the professional yet relaxed manner in which you conducted the course, it is great to know that there is still men out there who’s looking out for the ladies!! Thank you for your time and patience, had a most enjoyable time completing the course.
All the best for the future and may WIP go from strength to strength!
I just wanted to say thank you for such an amazing course. This has really meant so much to me for so many reasons:
In March 2010, my house was robbed in an incident where I came face to face with the intruders. Less than a month later, two guys tried to hijack me.
Luckily for me in both incidents I was able to get away, guardian angels I suppose, but I have always had that niggling fear in my head as to what would I have done had I not been able to run away.
I was so scared for so long after that and felt that I had no control in terms of making sure that I was not a victim. I felt vulnerable.
After being INpowered, I know that no matter what happens I always have a choice. My power is my own and no matter what happens, no one can ever take that away from me.
Your course is an absolute essential for any woman living in the world today and I plan on spreading that exact message far and wide.
Thank you for the email with all of the information attached and for the opportunity of being able to do your course. As you had probably gathered from the many tears and emotions I have a small story to accompany my “demons” and while I haven’t shared it with many people I am ready to share it with you. It has taken quite a while for me to put this into words so please bear with me.
At the age of 15, while on an all girls school camp, I walked into a bathroom by myself, quite a distance from the rest of the group, and unfortunately I was followed in by a guy. At the time I had managed to lock myself in the closest stall. He continued to tell me that he was going to have his way with me and described in detail what he was going to do while laughing. I could do nothing but attempt to dissuade him and stay in the stall. He started getting impatient and started hitting the door. After failing to open it he walked out of the bathroom announcing that he would be waiting outside for me. After some time I heard the group of girls returning nearby. Afterwards I was told that I had been gone for over an hour. As I did not see his face I could not identify him and he was never found.
While I realize that I am fortunate that I did not form part of a statistic that day and that there are people out there who have experienced worse, the event had such a profound effect on me that for over 3 years I could not bring myself to use a public restroom at all. Just a few days after breaking the board, and over 8 years later, I managed to walk into a restroom in a shopping center without a friend or family member accompanying me.
Naturally one of my greatest fears is being raped. I cannot express how grateful I am that I can take comfort in knowing that I now have an option besides submission. You have INpowered me.
Firstly, let me say thank you for an awesome conference, it was the best.
Mark, as you know I come across as a very confident person with lots to say. What you don’t know is that I am actually not!!! This loud me is a cover up for a very broken soul. From the age of 5 – 11 I was abused by a family friend, so badly that I stuttered lost all confidence, failed at school and had loads of other issues.
When you told me to punch that wood, all I saw in front of me was another person’s face, and I put all my energy and focus into hitting that face to pieces. Shit it felt so good!!!
I can go forward knowing that I am not that bad useless person I was before, but I am a person that has conquered something more than you will ever know.
I thank you for this, I know I have choices and I can choose how to go forward in life.
Thank you and God bless you.
I will contact you in the new year re coming to our school to do conference with teachers and parents. Unfortunately, our children are too young as we are a preschool., I think EVERY woman should attend this course it was amazing.
I will like to say thank you so much for the self defence classes. I finally broke the plank and what a great feeling. This was the best choice for me.
Mark thank you for your patience and encouragement. I have to admit was at a point of giving up. Driving home had a silly grin yesterday! Probably the fellow drivers thought was high! I was thou, high because was so Inpowered!!
Was just thinking of sending you my e-mail of thanks when yours came through!
I knew what was coming up having watched Gwen and Tash but did not have the belief that I could do it myself. Now feeling INpowered and looking for chances to try my skill!
You are welcome to do another course at Village but I have just sent out the newsletter. Please send me dates/times etc before next Tuesday.
I will send an e-mail to the Sandton and Lonehill schools and these are the details:
Kind regards and thanks again
Just a short note to say a huge THANK U to you for the most wonderful “Inpowering” few weeks. I started a little apprehensively not knowing what to expect, but each week when I left I felt on top of the world. It was suddenly knowing that I had a plan, a simple but extremely effective tool that I will not hesitate to use should the need arise. I walk around more alert, more confident and definitely more empowered than ever before. Thank you Mark for your support and knowledge you are a fantastic teacher.
Thank you once again for the sponsorship. I really appreciate it and it came at the right time for me.
This workshop was not just the usual or ordinary workshop. I speak for myself, but I’m sure the others felt the same. It just confirmed my thoughts and feelings.
Yes, we as women can be gullible at times and we always want to be “nice” and accommodating and always second guess because we want to please people or think what would people say about us if we do the right thing . “Act on your 6th sense” Mark said. How many times did I ignore that. Never again. Even regarding the mundane things of life.
I felt that Mark spoke directly to me , it was as if no one else was in that room, but only me and Mark. We could have had a one on one conversation because in my mind I answered him every time he spoke. Don’t get me wrong , nothing happened to me I am just referring to life experiences, my intuition etc. Hence me saying I could have stopped him at every example or hint he gave and engaged in conversation. Thus I feel I learnt so much and I am immensely grateful that I was sponsored. So thank you to you, Tracy and Mark.
PS. People never know what it means when they shower someone with a gift or a kind gesture.