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Taekwondo Domestic Violence Program

Domestic violence survivor builds confidence to move on with help from ‘fierce’ taekwondo friends


After experiencing physical and verbal abuse, Kelly found herself in a dark place she thought she could never get out of, but that all changed when she took up taekwondo.

Key points:

  • Domestic violence and sexual assault survivors say taekwondo helps them feel empowered and confident
  • The Pink Belt Project offers scholarships to women across Australia and the US
  • The project was started by a Bunbury mum who saw how taekwondo helped a friend affected by domestic violence

A unique martial arts program called the Pink Belt Project is helping women like Kelly (not her real name) overcome domestic violence and sexual abuse.

It offers scholarships for women to learn taekwondo, and for many survivors, the benefits are far-reaching.

In 2015, Kelly found herself in a toxic relationship that was affecting not only her mental health but her own son’s — who sometimes bore the brunt of aggressive behaviour.

“[My partner] went up behind my son and just whacked him across the back of the head, no sound, and my son didn’t even make a sound,” she said.

“It was in that moment, right then, that I thought ‘Yeah, we’re leaving’.”

After moving from Queensland to Western Australia, Kelly found herself in a similar situation.

“At the time, I was working two jobs, I was at university and I was so overwhelmed that again I found myself in this really, really low, dark place and I actually felt like I’d never get out of it,” she said.

Taekwondo more beneficial than counselling

Kelly started taekwondo under the Pink Belt Project to learn self-defence, but what she got from the program far outweighed any counselling.

“It has changed my life because if I hadn’t have gone and hadn’t have experienced all of this, I’d probably be in a really dark place,” Kelly said.

“One of the things about abusive relationships is it’s very isolating, and I battled alone. So the thing that helped me the most in taekwondo is suddenly I didn’t feel so isolated anymore.”

WA mum Siobhan (not her real name) described feeling scared and unable to defend herself and her 11-year-old daughter when she was pushed and shoved in her own home.

“I didn’t know what to do with this male who was powerful, and I had no control on being able to protect myself or my daughter,” Siobhan said.

Suffering depression, Siobhan said she believed every day she was unable to achieve anything, until she took up the Pink Belt project.

“It just gives me that confidence in myself, knowing that I can achieve things, and the skills to be able to protect myself as well if I need to.”

“My daughter is my world and being able to protect her means a lot to me.”

Lived experience brings program to life

The Pink Belt Project was started by Bunbury mum Kristy Hitchens, who saw the impact taekwondo had on her friend who was affected by domestic violence.

Family and domestic violence support services:

“Taekwondo is empowering, it builds confidence, and for this particular woman it was not just about those things but the community she had at taekwondo — a group of fierce female friends who all had her back,” she said.

In its first year, five women completed the scholarships and this year, it’s helping 15 women.

In one year, the program has soared in popularity and is now being delivered across Australia in almost every state, as well as internationally in the United States.

The project gained the support of taekwondo champion and Olympian Carmen Marton, who is an ambassador.

She said taekwondo was a skill every woman should have.

“It could be one moment in your life which you will need to save your life and you will need to fight back, and taekwondo gives you that ability,” she said.