Effectiveness of a Sexual Assault Self-defense Program for American Indian Girls

Katie M. Edwards, Laura Siller, Lorey A. Wheeler, Leon Leader Charge, Damon P.Leader Charge, Simone Bordeaux, Ramona Herrington, Skyler L. Hopfauf, Briana Simon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This study evaluated the effectiveness of a 6-session (12-hour) empowerment self-defense classroom delivered curriculum (i.e., IMpower) among American Indian girls. Girls (N = 74) in one middle school and two high schools on an Indian Reservation in the Great Plains region of the United States received the intervention and completed a pre-test and a post-test six months following the final program session. The surveys administered assessed hypothesized intermediary (i.e., efficacy to resist a sexual assault, self-defense knowledge), primary (i.e., sexual violence victimization), and secondary (i.e., physical dating violence, sexual harassment) outcomes. Native American girls (N = 181) in five middle schools and three high schools in a nearby city where there was no sexual assault prevention occurring completed surveys assessing sexual violence, physical dating violence, and sexual harassment victimization approximately six months apart, thus serving as a comparison to girls in the treatment condition on primary and secondary outcomes. Girls exposed to the IMpower program reported significant increases over time in efficacy to resist a sexual assault and knowledge of effective resistance strategies. Furthermore, propensity score analyses suggested that girls who received the IMpower program reported significantly fewer types of sexual assault and sexual harassment at follow-up compared to girls in the control condition. However, no effect was found for physical dating violence. These data suggest that empowerment self-defense is a promising approach in preventing sexual assault and sexual harassment among American Indian girls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • American Indian
  • girls
  • resistance
  • self-defense
  • sexual assault
  • sexual violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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