She Scared Me
“If something like that happens to me, I know I can defend myself.”
A cold shiver shot through me. Oh honey, if only that were true! If you’d only listen! And I was legit scared for her, out in the wild world with confidence based on…nothing. No skill or training whatsoever. I wouldn’t care so much, but she’s my daughter. And reality doesn’t care what you think you know.
In a real-deal fight, sure, a woman can rough up a guy pretty bad. I’ve seen mugshots of criminals post-attack, blackened eyes, scratched-up faces. But the women they assaulted?
Maimed in body, wrecked forever.
A couple years ago I was talking with my newly minted 20-year-old daughter, once more regaling her about the self-defense move I just learned in class that night. She smiled. Ah, Mom and her new self-defense craze. I tried showing her strategic body positioning and where and how to strike a stronger, bigger attacker. I even tried to pull her into “Ok, you try to attack me and I’ll defend myself.”
Mom. Seriously. I could see it in her eyes. I don’t need this. I’ll be fine. Oh, she wasn’t rude, not really. But she’d been eating right, working out, and yeah, was (and is) fit. Strong. Healthy as anything. So she brushed me off. That’s good for you. And she said that sentence up there that made me scared for her safety. And for good reason.
Chances are she’s going to experience some sort of violence, direct or indirect, at least once in her lifetime. Some of her closest friends will hold this pain, and they may or may not open up to her about it. This is true for all of us as women.
The United Nations’ definition of violence against women: “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life?
We’re talking abuse at every level, not just physical. We’re talking about all forms of pain, inside and out, visible and invisible. Angry threats to physical lashes, being controlled, enslaved in mind and/or body. I think we’d better take it seriously. Do you agree?
Consider some stats:
According to a report from the World Health Organization (linked below):
- About 1 in 3 women aged 15-49 in the Americas experience physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime.
- Sexual violence can lead to unintended pregnancies, gynaecological problems, and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
- Women who become pregnant from sexual violence are twice as likely to have an abortion.
- Intimate partner violence in pregnancy increases the likelihood of miscarriage, stillbirth, pre-term delivery and low birth weight babies.
- All forms of violence can lead to depression, post-traumatic stress and other anxiety disorders, sleep difficulties, eating disorders, and suicide attempts.The 2013 analysis found that women who experienced intimate partner violence were almost twice as likely to experience depression and problem drinking.
- Health effects can also include headaches, pain syndromes (back pain, abdominal pain, chronic pelvic pain) gastrointestinal disorders, limited mobility and poor overall health.
- Sexual violence, particularly during childhood, can lead to increased smoking, substance use, and risky sexual behaviours. It is also associated with perpetration of violence (for males) and being a victim of violence (for females).
The September 2022 report on violent crime in Statista (linked below), says in the United States last year (2021) 1,278,390 women were victims of violent crime. Can you even get your head around that number? Not thousands. Not tens of thousands. Not even hundreds of thousands. Well over a million women fell victim to violent crime.
We’re not talking purse snatching here. We’re talking murder, rape, sexual assault, robbery, and assault. And how many women aren’t even counted? They couldn’t bring themselves to a police station; ashamed of it all, they wanted to just push it away?
So many women are suffering – are you one of them?
She Didn’t Have to Die
On September 2, 2022 in midtown Memphis, a jogger, Eliza Fletcher, was taking her usual route in the early dawn darkness, muscles rippling, heading down the usual street, usual time. But this time, a black SUV drove past her and stopped. Waited at the corner.
When she got near the SUV, a man jumped out and hauled her, struggling, fighting, into the passenger seat. For 4 minutes the security camera caught the SUV just sitting there, God knows what was happening in the front seat. Maybe she roughed him up or something. We’re talking about a woman who ran daily, who was only 34, who was found with healthy food in her stomach.
Days later searchers discovered her, dead in a field, from blunt force injuries and a gunshot wound to the head. She left behind a devastated husband and two tiny boys who will grow up without their mother. The kids in her kindergarten class had to learn their teacher was never coming back. A whole community was rocked, and women like us got a reality check.
She wasn’t prepared.
She couldn’t effectively defend herself.
She can’t go back and get training. There’s no do-over.
This isn’t about victim shaming. What happened to her was maddeningly wicked and wrong. Remember, we’re looking at reality, though. And sometimes reality is unspeakably ugly.
Dare to Look
Are you willing to see it, let it sink in? I know it’s hard to even look at this stuff, let alone ponder it, but remember, reality doesn’t care what you believe. So it’s wise to know and believe reality and act like it’s true, right?
Part of reality is, men on the whole are going to be bigger and stronger than women. About 80% of the time. So chuck the idea of outmuscling any man out the window. And don’t think you can just run away and call 911. Most guys can run faster than you.
Remember: no shame, just reality. So what, just give in and become another statistic? Certainly not! So how can we realistically fight back? Not just fight them off, but get them under control and ourselves away and safe?
We believe passionately in empowering females. That’s why we’re here. You’ve heard the saying, “Fight smarter, not harder,” right? That’s one of our core tenets. Each body has weak points, and we train women how to exploit them. Imagine getting your elbow locked out, getting kicked in the knee, getting a blood choke… That’s a tiny part of what we train.
In most cases the aim isn’t to maim or kill. The aim is to gain a toolbox of skills to strategically pull out and use, depending on the nature of the attack. And to continually hone those skills so they’re ready in a split second. Because a split second may be all you have.
Don’t Make “If Only” Your Mantra
I sometimes imagine jogging with Eliza the morning of the last day of her life. What would I tell her? Scan your environment. See that SUV? See what it’s doing? Feels off, right? Turn around, jog back home. Hug your babies. Kiss your man. Alter your jogging route, and take care of yourself, girl. You’re worth every precaution, and you deserve to see your grandkids one day.
Get training, and keep training. Be prepared so if you’re in a fight you’ll win. Or better yet, you won’t have to fight at all. And you’ll live the rest of your life strong and confident because you’re putting in the work to make that true.
It’s too late for her, but not for my daughter.
And it’s not too late for you.
Given the stats, you’ve either had your butt handed to you or sooner or later you’ll face a situation where you’ll need trained-in skills to overcome a potential attacker. What will you do today to be safe? How are you going to train, what’s your plan? What if you joined us? What if you developed your own toolkit, skill by skill, and trained and trained, too?
Don’t be a statistic. Become a Tigress.
WHO Fact Sheets https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/violence-against-women
Crimes Against Women Statistics https://www.statista.com/statistics/423245/us-violent-crime-victims-by-gender/
Eliza Fletcher News Report https://abcnews.go.com/US/suspect-court-search-continues-abducted-memphis-jogger/story?id=89355948
Eliza Fletcher News Report on Yahoo! https://news.yahoo.com/eliza-fletcher-cause-death-revealed-212947651.html?fr=sycsrp_catchall