top of page

DateSafe: Cultivating Awareness and Setting Boundaries

Guest post by Coach Efrain Sevilla.

Homeschool dad, Black Belt in Brazilian Jiujitsu, and head and/or assistant coach

for youth/teen/adult programs including high school wrestling, self-defense, anti-bullying programs, strength and conditioning coach.

When developing relationships whether it be with family, friendships, social outings, and dating we begin to start understanding our personal boundaries. Many of us are not even aware of them. Our boundaries are one way on how we protect ourselves and how we navigate our relationships.

Here are the boundaries that we discuss in EFS DateSafe and Awareness sessions.

1. Physical boundaries pertain to your personal space, privacy, and body. i.e. Do you give a handshake or a hug – to whom and when?

2. Mental boundaries apply to your thoughts, values, and opinions. Are you easily suggestible? Do you know what you believe, and can you hold onto your opinions? Can you listen with an open mind to someone else’s opinion without becoming rigid? If you become highly emotional, argumentative, or defensive, you may have weak emotional boundaries.

3. Emotional boundaries distinguish separating your emotions and responsibility for them from someone else’s. Healthy boundaries prevent you from giving advice, blaming or accepting blame. They protect you from feeling guilty for someone else’s negative feelings or problems and taking others’ comments personally. High reactivity suggests weak emotional boundaries. Healthy emotional boundaries require clear internal boundaries – knowing your feelings and your responsibilities to yourself and others.

4. Sexual boundaries protect your comfort level with sexual touch and activity – what, where, when, and with whom.

To be aware of inappropriate and potentially dangerous behavior, you must have healthy physical and emotional boundaries. Your physical boundaries delineate the area surrounding your body that you feel is your own space. When someone crosses into it, you feel violated or uncomfortable. Your space can be sized differently based on your personality, family size, culture, and mood. If a friend comes up behind you at the park and rubs your shoulders, it could be a lovely gesture but If an adult you may know does the same it could be an unwanted invasion of your personal space. Before you can expect to defend your boundaries, you must be able to notice when they’ve been violated. Boundaries are learned. If yours weren’t valued as a child, you didn’t learn you had them.

For some it may be difficult to set boundaries because:

1. They put others’ needs and feelings first;

2. They don’t know themselves;

3. They don’t feel they have rights;

4. They believe setting boundaries jeopardizes the relationship; and

5. They never learned to have healthy boundaries.

Any kind of abuse violates personal boundaries, including teasing. For example, a brother ignoring pleas for him to stop tickling you until you can barely breathe. This may make you feel powerless and that you didn’t have a right to say “stop” when it was uncomfortable. In some cases, boundary violations affect a child’s ability to mature into an independent, responsible adult.

We each have our own level of comfort with sharing and hearing personal information, emotions, and intimate details. You may have a friend or family member who is completely happy to discuss the details of his /her digestive tract where another would be shocked and appalled to hear it. Before you can defend your emotional boundaries, you must first recognize how you feel. Do you feel uneasy? Do you know when they’ve been crossed?

You must learn to develop setting healthy boundaries. Learn to defend the boundary that you’ve set-verbally, emotionally, or physically. When you set a clear boundary and the person ignores, mocks, or crosses, you now have some very important information about your relationship.

Something to be aware of as well is that boundaries can move. The line can move closer but more importantly, the line can be moved farther away. Most of us display some healthy and unhealthy boundaries from time to time. That is why we must always learn to aware.

Here are questions we can ask ourselves to help us in our development and awareness.

Some signs of unhealthy boundaries:

-Saying yes when you really want to say no.

-Talking at an intimate level with people you’ve just met or when you don’t really want to.

-Going against your values to please others in your life or being afraid to displease anyone.

-Letting others make your decisions for you.

-Not noticing when others seem to lack appropriate boundaries.

-Wanting others to fulfill your needs automatically.

Some signs of Healthy boundaries:

-Keeping focused on yourself-your life, plans, and goals.

-Revealing a little of yourself a bit at a time.

-Notice when someone else displays inappropriate boundaries or invades yours

-Talking to yourself with respect, love, and appreciation

Developing your awareness is a lifelong process. You must unlearn myths about perpetrators and danger in general, and you must look closely at your own upbringing and habitual reactions in order to understand where you are most at risk. This requires that you examine your base assumptions and begin to study yourself. What are your personal challenges? Your beliefs? Your fears? How aware are you of your inner voice that indicates danger?

You make a lot of choices based on fears. So, although the solution is not always simple, learning effective and realistic self-defense and awareness skills can give you the tools you need to live confidently in the world. Neither avoiding life nor assuming unnecessary risks.

In EFS DateSafe and Awareness, the sessions really delve into understanding your boundaries and learning some tools and tactics to use when they are not being respected.

It takes time, support, and relearning to be able to set effective boundaries. Self-awareness and learning to be assertive are the first steps. Setting boundaries isn’t selfish. It’s self-love – you say “yes” to yourself each time you say “no.” It builds self-esteem. But it usually takes encouragement to make yourself a priority and to persist, especially when you receive pushback. For more information or to set up a DateSave and Awareness class, Please contact Efrain Savilla.


Coach Efrain also offers on-going

Jiu-Jitsu classes in Santa Monica, Manhattan Beach, and Torrance.

Physical Empowerment-Homeschool Class at Creative Learning Place

In this class, students will build a solid foundation in physical education including strength conditioning, mobility training, and self-defense skills through martial arts and other methods.

Wednesday, 12:30 – 1:30 PM (12 weeks)

Sept. 11, 18, 25, Oct. 2, (no class 9, 16), 23, 30, Nov. 6, 13, 20, (no class 27), Dec. 4, 11

Grades K - 3

Location: 5870 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles

Mondays in Santa Monica

Teens and Adults 6:45 PM-8:15 PM

Location: 3015 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90403

Wednesday and Saturdays in Manhattan Beach

Wednesdays Kids 6:30-7:30 PM

Saturdays 9:00-10:00 AM Kids And 10:00-11:30 AM Adults

Location: Undisputed Fight Academy (UFA)

1807 Manhattan Beach Blvd, Manhattan Beach, 90266

Tuesdays and Thursdays in Torrance

Kids from 4:30 PM - 5:30 PM, Adults from 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM

Location: West End Racquet and Health Club

4343 Spencer St, Torrance, CA 90503

For more information or to sign-up for a class please contact Efrain Savilla.


bottom of page