- In the USA, a woman is raped every two minutes. The perpetrator is usually a male.
- A 1993 survey revealed that 50% of Canadian women have experienced an incident of sexual assault or physical violence.
- In Australia, 19% of women aged 18 to 24 experienced an act of violence in the last year.
- Statistics show that one in very four women in America will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime.
These are SHOCKING statistics, and I expect many of them are low due to unreported incidents.
As I mentioned in the previous article—Martial Monday: 10 Common-Sense Self-Defense Tips For Men—increasing personal safety ALWAYS starts with awareness. Also, while this is specifically intended for women, much of it applies to anyone who wants to protect themselves and others and avoid trouble.
Before I get to the meat of this article, I want to discuss something I’ve routinely seen regarding self-defense tips for women. It’s not uncommon to see advice such as, “do not wear revealing clothing in public places” or “do not drink excessive amounts of alcohol, take mind altering drugs, or leave ANY food or drink unattended where it may be tampered with.”
While these aren’t necessarily bad ideas, and I’m sure the authors of such tips had good intentions, they’re poorly phrased. These two examples, and many others I’ve seen over the years, use victim-blaming language. These are fear-based tips. “Be a good little woman and don’t upset the bad men. If you do, you’re at fault.” No, no, no. This mindset has to stop. Yes, it’s a good idea to practice awareness, don’t enter situations that feel dangerous to you, don’t let your brain’s rationalizations to override your instincts, but this applies to everyone. Women should not have to be more careful than men. The fact they do have to be more careful is not their fault. The fault rests squarely on the rapists, and the discussion of women’s self-defense and rape prevention must keep that fact at its forefront.
A woman should be able to go out with friends, in mixed company, drink and eat whatever she wants without the fear of getting drugged or assaulted or raped. Men do these things routinely without fear of consequences. The ability to do so without that fear, in my mind, boils down to a basic human right. Especially in the US, the “land of the free.” If each and every person isn’t free to enjoy themselves in simple ways, like dinner and drinks with friends, then that lack of freedom is an impingement on the ideals this country proclaims.
So, here is my list of recommendations. The core of this list comes from Gavin de Becker’s excellent book, ‘The Gift of Fear’. I’ll include another link to this book at the end of this article.
De Becker lists seven “pre-incident indicators,” and he provides examples of them from real-life case studies. Here are the indicators:
- Forced Teaming
- Using collective pronouns like “we” in order to establish premature trust because it indicates “we’re in the same boat.” This is often hard to rebuff because society has taught us, especially women, to “play nice” and not be “rude.
- Charm and Niceness
- “Charm is almost always a directed instrument.” It has a motive. Think of it as a verb rather than a character trait.
- Too Many Details
- Someone who offers too many details and/or unnecessary details is likely trying to deceive you. They know they’re lying, so they believe you’re doubting them, and they feel like more details can make the thing more plausible.
- Labeling someone in a slightly critical way. “You’re probably too snobbish to talk to the likes of me …” or “Well, I was just asking. No reason for you to be rude …” This tactic is used to, again, play on the social norms. By accusing you of being arrogant or rude or whatever, they hope to trigger your socially-induced aversion to rudeness or being misunderstood. They’re preying on the human tendency to get defensive and, by doing so, keeping the interaction going longer. Each moment of interaction, give and take, is another moment they can apply leverage. More on this in the final indicator.
- Loan Sharking
- They offer to help you with something because that places you in their debt.
- The Unsolicited Promise
They offer an unnecessary promise. “I’ll just put this stuff down and go. I promise.” It’s intended to disarm, to make you think they’re playing by conventional rules, but if they didn’t have an ulterior motive, they wouldn’t feel the urge to make that unnecessary promise. They would simply, for example, put the stuff down and go.
Now, those six are indicators. Each of them might happen without an ulterior motive or, at least, without a nefarious one. You can probably think of examples from daily life where people have used these tactics in a completely innocent way, and you’ve probably used them yourself. These are, to varying degrees, normal in social interactions. If you see one of these six behaviors, you should ratchet up your awareness. Even if their intentions aren’t harmful, they may be trying to manipulate you. The seventh indicator, though:
- Discounting the Word “No”
“No” is a word that must never be negotiated. The person who chooses not to hear it is trying to control you. Their intentions may not be dangerous, they might just be trying to sell you something, but they are predatory. As De Becker says, “‘No’ is a complete sentence.” When you say “no,” end the interaction. If you continue to engage with them, they will take it as an invitation to convince you away from that “no.” If someone disregards your “no,” you should go on high alert.
Bear in mind, you’re statistically more likely to be attacked/raped by someone you know than by a stranger. In fact, 8 out of 10 rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. Considering this, you need to apply these pre-incident indicators to the people you know as well as strangers. If someone in your life is using these tactics, they are manipulating you. Pay close attention to what they’re doing and, if you determine their agenda is dangerous for you or others you love, either leave the situation, abandon the relationship, or take action to prevent harm to yourself and loved ones.
As I mentioned last week, follow your instincts. They’re based on experience, the protection of yourself and loved ones is always the motivation for your instincts. They may be wrong, but they never lie. Pay attention to them. When your instincts say, “Danger!” start looking for those pre-incident indicators. If you can get away from the situation entirely, do so. If you can’t, then try to make other people aware of what’s going on. If it comes to physical defense, remember that your primary objective is to get home safe to your loved ones. If home is where the danger is, then self-defense means getting to safety. Period. Statistically, as a woman, if you’re attacked, you’ll be dealing with someone larger, stronger, and more experienced at violence than you are. I realize this may sound harsh, but I don’t believe it should be sugar coated. If you get attacked, fight as if your life depends on it, because it probably does. Even if you survive the incident, it may ruin your life.
Increasing personal safety ALWAYS starts with awareness. Practice being as aware of your surroundings as you can at all times. If you have to fight, fight like hell.
If someone tells you to “go along with it, because that’s better than dying if you fight back,” tell them to take a flying leap.
One woman I know did that. Her takeaway: “I would rather kill or be killed than live through the hell I suffered in the aftermath.”
Fight like hell. If you’re overcome and survive, you’ll know you did your level best, and that might reduce the level of hell in your aftermath. PTSD is a horrible thing to experience. Another friend of mine had her life turned upside down after she was drugged and raped. The PTSD prevented her from working, so she lost her job. Her domestic relationships with her boyfriend and daughter were devastated, and that caused emotional problems for the daughter. Because she was drugged, she wasn’t able to fight back, and, of course, that is not her fault in any way, shape, or form, but her inability to fight back played a huge role in the PTSD she still suffers from.
Ultimately, we have to teach men not to rape and not to be misogynistic assholes. Unfortunately, in this area, we have millennia of ingrained attitudes to overcome. I think we’ve made progress in society in general over the past few decades, but we have a long way to go.
Please feel free to share this to every person, especially women, you care for.
Further reading and resources
This article was originally published on my blog. To read the original, click here: https://trainagps.blogspot.com/2020/01/martial-monday-powerful-self-defense.html
Gavin de Becker’s excellent book, ‘The Gift of Fear’ can be found by clicking the Amazon link .