After nine years of marriage, Guangzhou native Li Xiao Yan experienced what many married women around the world deal with on a regular basis. She was beaten by her husband. During a marital spat one day last year, Ms Li's eyes were left swollen after her husband struck her head and face. It was the first time she had experienced any kind of physical violence from her husband, but the incident ultimately resulted in the couple's divorce. 'I was very scared at that time. I just wanted to leave him,' said Ms Li. 'It was hard to have intimate feelings for him again.' Statistics for domestic violence in Guangzhou and the rest of the mainland, for that matter, are on a par with the rest of the world. A survey by the All-China Women's Federation last year revealed that 16 per cent of married women have been beaten and about 5 per cent mentally abused by their husbands. But resources for dealing with this problem are limited. The Guangzhou Women's Federation offers free legal and psychological counselling for women who have been the victims of family violence. But some women, like Ms Li, are taking a more proactive approach, literally taking matters into their own hands. In recent months more women have been signing up for self-defence courses. Classes at fitness centres are drawing an increasing number of women. Next month, Ms Li and more than 100 women will attend a series of seminars that take a comprehensive approach towards self-defence. The programme, known as Senshido, includes a seminar on defensive thinking and two rape-prevention classes. Although technical skills in self-defence are part of the training, the programme focuses on the psychological and emotional preparation for violent confrontations. 'It's all about having a certain mindset,' explains Danielle Hsu, general manager of the Excellent Learning Educational Training Centre, a local company organising the seminars. 'We provide people with choices that can help them get out of certain situations.' Francis Boivin, a self-defence trainer at Total Fitness in Guangzhou's China Plaza, says: 'About 90 per cent of all confrontations are psychological. There are often signs that people don't notice or don't pay attention to. Chances are that if you get into a situation, you weren't paying attention.' Local media cover some abusive family situations, but there is still a shortage of psychological support for victims. Guangzhou federation vice-president Ling Qi says many cases go unreported due to the cultural practice of keeping family matters inside the home. 'When we meet with these women it's just one-on-one,' she said.