• Yehudit Sidikman

Agreeing to the Same Simple Code



There’s no simple answer to the question “How do we build safe(r) communities?” And, of course, there’s more than one answer.


But I do know this: One way to build safer communities is to create spaces, like Empowerment Self Defense classes, where people learn that the members of their class, the women who stood in line and supported them when they practiced their technique, or fought their fight, are people who they can reach out to when they need support.


Those same women who make sure to pass around a contact sheet, or create a WhatsApp group. Those women who you just feel comfortable picking up the phone to share with. Mostly strangers who no longer feel like strangers because you have all practiced what it means to be supportive without judgment. The women who you journeyed to your scariest places and back, and were there for you cheering.


Did something happen to you at the grocery story five minutes ago? Is something that happened two years ago suddenly bothering you again? Was your landlord waiting unexpectedly at your front door? Did your boss say something that felt inappropriate, and you aren’t 100% sure how to take it?


In any case, once you’ve taken an ESD class, you automatically have a list of people you can share with.

In any case, once you’ve taken an ESD class, you automatically have a list of people you can share with. Sharing is a skill in itself. In fact, it’s the fifth principle of Empowerment Self Defense. We call it “TELL.” And it can also be looked at as a muscle that needs to be trained and exercised and used.


It’s also important to learn what to do when someone shares with you.


For whatever reason, some people are more comfortable responding to people’s stories, and have an easier time figuring out what to say. Honestly though, whether you are or you just want to get better, there is a simple code that we teach and that you can use.


And here it is:


When somebody shares something with you, start with “Thank you for sharing with me.” If it is a really hard story, you may need to decide if you want to go further. It is okay not to be able to. That is your choice. If you can, you can add, “that should have never happened and I am honored that you chose to share with me.”


Then ask, “What do you need right now?”


After that, we listen.


And they might not know what they need. And that is okay. And you might want to ask “would it help you if I give a suggestion or two?”



And as I learned from Piglet and Winnie the Pooh, sometimes it is just enough to sit with them as they figure things out.


Everyone deserves support. And everyone deserves to share their story without judgment or blame.

Everyone deserves support. And everyone deserves to share their story without judgment or blame.


What does sharing have to do with building safer communities?


You tell me….

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