Self-defence skills are often overlooked by most of us. Being a martial artist for the last 19 years, I constantly try to remind people around me to be aware of their surroundings. Our safety starts from our own initiative.
Look, Weinstein is not the only sexual predator in this whole wide world at this point in time. There are PLENTY of such cases that happen day to day to an ordinary person. I am not going to specify women only because men do get sexually harassed or attacked too. Let’s leave gender out of this conversation.
Figuratively, anyone can be a victim of such indecent acts. Each of us here would have heard about such horrifying attacks happening to you, a friend, a family member or at least a friend of a friend; someone you know within your 6 degrees of separation. My biggest question is what steps do we take to prevent such acts from happening to any of us? Just as the saying goes: take things into our own hands.
Ha! Easier said than done!
That’s probably one of the things you have in mind while frowning and thinking that my article is going to be some nonsensical call out; wondering who the heck I am.
Truth is… I am nobody special. I am just like you, her, him and the other person right next to you. What I have would be some martial arts skills that I have developed in the last 2 decades plus some knowledge on how to avoid being victims. I would not call myself an expert but I have been in an abusive relationship before.
My previous relationship was mentally abusive which then led to physical abuse when I insisted on a break-up. I am a well trained martial artist but, so was my ex-boyfriend who decided to slap me across the table in a bar when he was tipsy. My defence system responded acutely right after his first slap by slapping him back. Months later my ex-told me he slapped me because he still had hoped in our relationship and was angered so badly when I told him that he can no longer come back to my place. If you think that he is delirious, that’s exactly what I think about him as well.
The truth is there are some key concepts that can be understood according to a paper titled “The Psychology of Attacks and Attackers” by Arieahn Matamonasa-Bennett, PhD Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Asst. Prof. DePaul University, Chicago. An excerpt from the stated article:
Violent Behavior is NOT about a person (or profile) but rather about a combination of situations, actual behaviours and ways of thinking(cognition). All human beings have the mechanisms and capacity to behave violently. (Some are more primed and prone to this behaviour than others).
Violent Behavior is NOT random and unpredictable. There are “red flags” and“pre-incident” indicators that if recognized and taken seriously can be used to assess risk and prevent violence.
If you think why you? Then my answer is simply because you could be the weakest link in the crowd. Ignoring red flags can also be interpreted as enabling the attacker to make a move on you. Do not believe in social norms that you should stick to the person through their bad behaviour. That is not always true. Some people repent and most don’t. There is always a line that needs to be drawn and that line is meant to save you from any harm.
Self-defence starts from avoiding situations that could lead us to danger.
I am a known adventure and thrill seeker. So, I am not saying that we should not take risks or go out and have fun. However, we need to be more mindful and evaluate the risks that we are taking. Going out drinking on a Friday night in the local bar with a bunch of friends sounds perfectly fine, normal and safe. True. It does sound perfectly great until you hear about the murders in Thailand during the full moon party in Koh Phangan. These partygoers thought things would just be crazily awesome and fun as well.
First of all, for an attacker to attack you, he needs to have 3 things; ways, intent and opportunity. Let’s simplify things further:
Intent — to rape, rob you of your possessions or simply to satisfy his psychological needs
Ways — gaining your trust, drugging your drinks or kidnapping you
Opportunity — when you are the weakest link among everyone else, you appear fearful, you are not mindful or he has an advantage over your secrets or he has a leverage against you (eg. Weinstein had a leverage on the celebrities’ careers)
Evaluate your situation and look for the best option to safety regardless of how safe you think you are. For example, you are in a club with 20 people celebrating your bestie’s birthday. Plan not just for the good times but also plan on the safety measures. Make sure that there are a few people in the group that are reliable enough to know when to stop drinking and is capable of taking care of one another. Though my best advice is for you to be the most reliable person for yourself and the ones you love. Why? Statistics have shown that most attackers are known to their victims. You can never be too careful when it comes to self-defence
Be alert and mindful of what is going on around you, who is around you and your friends.
Basically, be aware. An attacker usually have 2 plans which are execution and exit so, you should have the same too. Study the place you are going, the people who you are potentially going to be surrounded by and the possibilities of being attacked. If your gut is telling you that there is something not quite right about the situation, talk to your friends and tell them upfront what you feel. If no one agrees with you and you do feel endangered, leave. It is always better safe than sorry. Also, even if you are feeling scared or threatened, it is best to put up a brave front, walk with confidence and be sharp. You can also use your phone, keys or even a pen as a weapon of self-defence.
In Self-Defence, prevention is better than cure.
Still feeling immense danger? Text a friend or call a trusted friend who is not at the party to inform him/her about your situation. Advise that you are heading home and put on a GPS location sharing for the next hour which can be easily done through Facebook messenger and some other apps.
Other preventive measures include learning self-defence or any kind of combat sports such as Brazilian Jiujitsu, Muay Thai, Judo, Kickboxing, Krav Maga and Karate. Stay fit, train your stamina (never know when you’ll need to outrun your predator) and constantly imagining yourself in dangerous situations.
You can train your mind into being brave and knowing what to do when the need arises. Don’t expect to be a professional by just attending one seminar or 10 classes. It is a lifetime’s craft. Always remember that practice makes perfect.
Stay safe and empower yourself!
In other words, you can either repel or attract your attackers. Whichever way it goes, it is indeed in your own hands. We can’t stop what others may do to us but we can prevent them from achieving their sadistic goal and save ourselves from being a victim. Self-defence is more than just some physical skills.