Michelle Pereira-Henriquez Achieves ESD Global Level 2 Instructor Status!



We are excited to share that Michelle Pereira-Henriquez has reached an ESD training milestone, achieving ESD Global Level 2 Instructor Status! ESD Global graduates like Michelle bring Empowerment Self- Defense to people of all backgrounds, enabling them to live bolder and healthier lives.


Violence is a global problem, but needs to be addressed at a grass-roots level in accordance to each community's needs. Michelle applies a unique cultural and trauma-informed lens in her approach to ESD, providing an enriching perspective to ESD training. She has contributed to ESD Global's online webinar series for the professional development of ESD instructors during the COVID-19 pandemic, presenting alongside fellow ESD Global graduate Magdalena Diaz.



Watch her most recent webinar with ESD Global, Introducing Decolonial Practices in ESD where she addresses the use of decolonization in ESD, while utilizing an increased awareness in the embodied approach to addressing oppression within structures that uphold power-based violence. Explaining what decolonization entails, Michelle provides a unique approach to recognizing the history of the body and the revolution of self-defense as a means to reclaim reparations. Moreover, she shares tools ESD instructors can implement in their courses.


Michelle was introduced to ESD Global Self Defense in 2018 in New York and has not looked back since! She recognized the need for providing healing and prevention efforts to the local community that consisted of Latinx who were healing from intergenerational and systemic trauma.

"ESD has allowed me to look deeper within myself and to enrich my understanding of the concepts of individual as well as community resistance in a world that emphasizes the masculine over the feminine. I see it is a rich tool that deconstructs learned information on gender roles, race relations, discrimination against certain populations, and such. It is an honor to witness the transformation of folx in their journey with ESD and have observed concrete, lasting changes such as women leaving their abusive relationships to folx standing up to their employer who was sexually harassing them, to men setting boundaries for themselves after healing from a history of child sexual abuse. I am indebted for the opportunities and am excited to continue my work with ESD!”, shares Michelle.


Michelle has worked in the field of social services for more than 10 years as a trauma therapist, case manager, advocate, mentor, consultant, and community facilitator. Most recently, she was a Trauma Therapist at the East Los Angeles Women’s Center, working closely with survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, and stalking for 10 years providing group and individual therapy. She has also served as a Campus Advocate for both California State University, Los Angeles and University of California, Riverside. She is currently working on obtaining her License in Clinical Social Work. Throughout the past two, years she engaged in dialogue with others on the realities of BIPOC within the self-defense realm and embarked on a process to further extend her decolonial practices in individual counseling to group & community empowerment self-defense. She has taught self-defense to bilingual and monolingual Spanish speaking survivors of human trafficking, sexual assault, domestic violence.


Watch her recent webinar Decolonizar las Practicas y Aprendizaje de Auto Defensa Personal, discussing the importance of focusing ancestral knowledge when working with survivors of interpersonal violence. Alongside Magdalena Diaz, Michelle leads a conversation about reformulation of ESD facilitators perceive and teach local knowledge.


Michelle's work in forming bridges with a community of service providers is commendable as it is very needed in the field. Michelle has a background in work with survivors and will be collaborating with ESD Global with in using ESD as a tool for trauma healing in her community in a way that resonates with the local language. Stay tuned for upcoming projects and updates!

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