6 women participated in a self defense course run by Single Parent Services in Huntly last week. Violence statistics in New Zealand make for very uncomfortable reading which might be why they are seldom published or discussed. Who would know for instance that fully one third of women in a relationship will experience physical or sexual violence in New Zealand and that that makes us the worst country in the OECD for relationship sexual violence as determined by the UN in a 2011 report? Jump to single parent families and that number also jumps, up to around 80% having had experiences that affect their confidence and self esteem. It has become almost habitual for politicians, press and society in general to pour scorn on and denigrate single parents. Attempting to stem the tide of family violence, the team at Single Parent Services Waikato uses a very direct method to increase self confidence. Funded by Community Organisation Grants and available to all women of any age and fitness level simple self defense courses can make meaningful change to women’s daily life. We are not talking about producing black belts in Karate here, but practical and sensible behaviors to increase relationship safety skills for adults. Such things as verbal defense, assertiveness and self esteem that most of us take for granted need to be re-established. How to identify a difficult situation early and what to do about it, along with basic physical defense are taught and demonstrated. The children of single parents experience the confidence that comes with knowledge as a result of the parents’ participation in these courses.