WAVE is a practical and empowering safety and self-defense program offered throughout the Philadelphia region. We teach safety strategies that participants can use in situations ranging from verbal harassment to physical assault.

Open Class Announcement:


This class is being hosted by Art With Spirits. This is a FREE class, with light refreshments provided.

  • Date: Saturday, November 9th

  • Time: 11:00am - 1:00pm

  • Place: Art With Spirits, 2539 E. Boston St., Philadelphia

All participants must register to attend the class. To register, please email artwithspirits@gmail.com.

What is Empowerment Self-Defense (ESD)?

WAVE is based on the Empowerment Model of Self-­Defense. We believe that people should have accurate information about gender-­based violence; that perpetrators, not victims, are responsible for violence; that people should decide what is best for them in any given situation, including the decision not to fight back; and that all of us are worth defending and have the right to do so.

Classes offered

Our program addresses violence comprehensively, offering a variety of tools for avoiding and interrupting multiple levels of violence. We empower participants to choose the options that are best for them in their own situation. Every class we teach involves discussion and practice of:

  • Awareness & Intuition

  • Assertive Communication

  • De-escalation

  • Boundary Setting Skills

  • Physical Self-defense Techniques

Our classes are trauma-informed, and designed to empower individuals and build their confidence. You don’t need to be an athlete to learn self-defense! WAVE is for people of all genders, skills, abilities, sizes and body types.

Introductory Class: Our basic introduction class is a single, 2-hour class. Class discussion and activities will focus on the five components of self-defense: think, yell, run, fight, and tell. Participants will also be taught easy-to-learn physical techniques.

Multipart Class: Our multipart classes cover the same topics as our Introductory class, but allow participants more time to practice new techniques and skills in class, with additional activities, such as discussing healthy and unhealthy relationship characteristics, additional boundary setting practice, and learning how to escape from various grabs and holds. If a group has any particular needs or concerns, our coordinator can work with you to incorporate those needs into the program.

Multipart classes can range from 2 to 5 classes, with each class lasting 60-90 minutes.

Trauma Focused Class: When someone has experienced sexual or intimate partner violence, the resulting trauma can have profound impacts on the body. Our trauma focused class emphasizes choice and control, and places focus on reconnecting with the body and rediscovering its power.

Teen Program: Prevention Through Empowerment: This 5-session program provides tools for girls and gender-non-conforming teens to learn how to communicate assertively, address situations head on, trust their instincts, and value their safety. Topics of discussion include communication, healthy relationships, consent, and bystander intervention. Great for summer camps, girl scout troops, and afterschool programs!

To schedule a program, please fill out a program request.

For more information about WAVE, contact us at wave@helpwomen.org or 215-564-5301, Ext. 113.

Seniors at Center in the Park pose for a picture after a WAVE workshop.

Seniors at Center in the Park pose for a picture after a WAVE workshop.