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In our self-defense class recently, we were working with defense weapons. I have a collapsible baton, deployed by quick movement of the hand. We were learning to deploy it first. Then we were learning how to be intimidating.

I did not expect this to be so hard for me.

I am not, by nature or nurture, a very intimidating person. I’m very quiet, usually. I’m not “easy going,” but I am not by any means a scary or intimidating person. In fact, I would say my nature is quite the opposite. But that was not the thing that surprised me.

What surprised me? I found it extremely difficult and frustrating to try to be intimidating. I know it’s important for survival if someone actually tries to attack me. But at first I was laughing nervously and feeling very silly. And then I was crying and really struggling with this concept of being intimidating. PTSD became prevalent as I recalled the years of abuse by my mother’s hand.

When you live in fear (and sometimes terror) daily for a long time, the idea of being intimidating seems a very distant one. Even now I’m generally not someone who likes confrontation; I only confront people when I deem it necessary. Even then I’m usually shaking and very nervous because it’s so far out of my comfort zone. But I do not want to be unjustifiably disrespected either. I also do not want to see others who can’t defend themselves harmed or disrespected. So when it’s necessary I do speak up against injustice.

But that’s not the same thing as intimidation. Intimidation is when you strike fear in someone. In the context of self defense, it’s an important weapon, and may be enough to stop an attack. Deploying a baton and an intimidating look on my face may be all it takes to stop a would-be attacker. I think the path of least resistance applies here. The idea is to do minimal harm to ourselves. A look of intimidation and fearlessness may be all the weapon we need. I think when I am able to not show fear, it lets the other person know they can’t hurt me very easily. Hopefully it will be enough to deter them from going further.


But it’s so tough for me to do that. It’s even tougher to yell and try to be intimidating in that way. I wish it was not so hard to do. But it’s another step outside my comfort zone. I am not timid. But I am not comfortable being forceful or intimidating. The PTSD I suffered bred a lot of fear in me. This is another way to overcome. It is another level, another step into healing and wholeness. Learning to find my fierceness and my voice has helped me understand why this skill is so needed. It could potentially (and quite literally) save my life. I am not without fear. But a person who wants to hurt me or someone I love can’t know that.

Being strong and taking control of a dangerous situation is key. Someone who wants to hurt me probably assumes they already have the upper hand. But if I can show them they in fact do not have it by being intimidating, then I have control.

There is always more than meets the eye to any given situation. Healing comes from the most unexpected places. I hope to learn how to be more intimidating. I am hoping, with time, I am.

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