- Join Got Your Back Sista and stand up to domestic violence at the Newcastle Knights versus Canterbury Bulldogs NRL game on July 12. Register at https://www.mycause.com.au/events/2019gybsknights
SELF defence instructor Carly Reasbeck believes all women are warriors.
She's been working for more than two decades empowering women and teaching them how to protect themselves, defend themselves and rebuild their confidence and self esteem, in some cases after what can only be described as harrowing abuse.
But never did she think teenage girls would make up so many fighters.
Spirit Taekwondo Newcastle instructor Ms Reasbeck teaches a six-week self-defence program at the headquarters of anti-domestic violence charity Got Your Back Sista (GYBS), which received an nib grant this year to bring a 10-week pilot program to year 10 and 11 girls at five Alesco Senior College campuses.
The schools provide students who don't want to complete their education in a traditional setting with an alternative.
"About 50 per cent of the girls disclose they have experienced violence and it does astound me, that percentage," Ms Reasbeck said.
"It's really, really scary to see that amount of kids disclosing.
"They witness a lot of family violence between parents and they've had things happen to them, whether it's physical or sexual or emotional abuse.
"Sometimes there is intoxication or drug abuse and that's when it gets to the point that they become a target for a loved one."
Ms Reasbeck said when GYBS chief executive Melissa Histon-Browning visits the girls mid-way through the program and introduces the concept of "red flags", many can identify with what the term means.
"Some young girls are already in pretty serious relationships and have seen signs of aggression and narcissistic behaviours," she said.
Ms Histon-Browning said it was "heartbreaking" to hear what the girls as young as 14 had experienced. "They're having people dictate who they can talk to on social media, who they can hang out with, what they can wear, being jealous and putting them down."
Ms Reasbeck said far from the classes being a preventative measure for when the girls become adults, the feedback showed teenagers needed to be given the opportunity to develop these skills while still at school.
"I think it should be rolled out to everyone in all schools," she said.
"We have sex education and other programs out there but I think this is very, very, very important.
"We need to learn basic skills that we can apply in dangerous situations to be able to reduce risk."
Ms Reasbeck said she advised girls who found themselves in danger at home to remove themselves from the situation wherever possible.
"They have the right to say 'I don't want to be here' and go and seek safety somewhere else," she said. "Whether it's next door, to a friend's, another family member's or just getting out of the house and being in an open space so they can use their voice to get help.
"It's really hard - there's no manual and the scenarios are totally different."
She said as well as developing physical skills such as blocking and striking she spoke to participants about body language; being able to scope out their environment for potential danger; negotiate their way out of situations; trust their gut instinct; enforce boundaries and use their voice like a siren.
"We give them confidence to realise their potential and give them back their sense of wellbeing and self worth.
"I see them come in timid or shy, but the transition is just amazing."