Junior and senior girls learn self defense strategies


Taylor Redmond ’20 practices a defensive stance during the workshop. Credit: Anusha Mathur/Chronicle

Anusha Mathur

Founder of self defense organization Divas In Defense Christopher Britto taught junior and senior girls effective strategies to defend themselves against attack April 29.

After growing up with a single mother who was a survivor of both sexual assault and domestic violence, Britto started Divas in Defense with his brother to provide women with the awareness and tools to protect themselves in dangerous situations. 

“As a father, it is important just to know that there are options for women and that they do not have to be weak and that someone out there can show them that there are ways to protect themselves,” Britto said. “I get happiness from knowing that more women are going to be safe and that my company is making a difference.”

Britto began by teaching students the basic moves they can use to defend themselves in dangerous situations, including a proper defensive stance. Then, students learned facts about the prevalence of violence in their community.

Attendee Taylor Jones ’18 said that she feels more confident and safe as a result of the workshop.

“I think that I will definitely be able to defend myself much better in a fight or flight situation,” Jones said. “Just coming to this one class for a few hours on a Sunday morning has helped me for the rest of my life.”

The workshop was organized by Parents of African-American Harvard-Westlake Students (PAAWS) in conjunction with Divas In Defense administrator Amber Steward. Steward said that she believes that giving women the opportunity to harness their strength and build their confidence is as important as learning the skills to defend themselves.

“We think it is important just to broaden the scope of awareness about what women are capable of and to build self-confidence in young women so that they know that they are strong enough to defend themselves, they are powerful enough to out-think a perpetrator, and that they can protect themselves,” Steward said.