Mind, Body and Spirit: A Holistic Approach for Assault Survivors

USA Today’s Woman of the Year 2023 honoree from Vermont, Christine DiBlasio, has an innovative therapy program that uniquely combines talk sessions, movement, and self-defense training to promote deep healing for sexual assault survivors.

Practicing at a Women’s Empowerment Self-Defense program. (Source: The Safety Team)

When clinical psychologist Christine DiBlasio began incorporating martial arts and self-defense training into her therapy for sexual assault survivors, she found it allowed deeper healing on both a physical and emotional level. Her unique program is provided for free to participants thanks to grant funding, and merges talk therapy to process trauma with movement and empowerment.

The program, called Therapeutic Empowerment Self-Defense, is designed for trauma survivors and is offered by The Safety Team, which consists of seven highly skilled women who together have over 50 years of martial arts training.

Christine DiBlasio

Around 50% of women experience sexual violence, so there is great need for this therapy. DiBlasio’s waiting list is long as hundreds have already benefited from her techniques in the four years since she began this first-of-its-kind program. Testimonials tell of the life-changing impact. DiBlasio hopes to expand the reach to help more in the future.

Every participant who then feels moved to volunteer with her non-profit is a proud moment. Seeing her instructors enhance the curriculum also makes her beam. While it’s difficult to have to turn people away when the demand exceeds capacity, DiBlasio persists in her mission to do good and provide this unique service.

DiBlasio looks up to her daughters, teammates, and courageous program participants. She advises staying persistent, curious, and focused on living ones values. Acknowledge adversity, lean on supportive people, then continue onward. DiBlasio exemplifies her own advice in her groundbreaking program.

Read more about her work in the Burlington Free Press and Seven Days.

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Angels in Medicine is a volunteer site dedicated to the humanitarians, heroes, angels, and bodhisattvas of medicine. The site features physicians, nurses, physician assistants and other healthcare workers and volunteers who reach people without the resources or opportunities for quality care, such as teens, the poor, the incarcerated, the elderly, or those living in poor or war-torn regions. Read their stories at www.medangel.org.

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