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From a Whisper to a Roar (Part 4):  Now That I Have Your Attention

She Almost Lost Control

Miss B. was fresh out of college, fresh from her teaching internship, and the new high school math teacher in a tough school. Not the best combination. Especially in an afternoon class where the ring leader (a.k.a. Tommy) could turn the class against her in a moment. 

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What was she thinking? Why was she here? Standing in front of that group of restless teens, she heard what she was dreading. 

Tommy started shouting from the back. It didn’t matter what he said – what happened next was the problem. The kids started talking and pulling out their phones. 

Miss B. was losing her hold on the class. If she didn’t act soon, what would happen next? How could she remain a teacher here if she didn’t take charge and take it quickly?

She took a deep breath and stood in front, front, and center. Hands on her hips, stance squared, she scanned the room, eyes stopping at every student and ending on Tommy. 

She felt determination rise and a conviction well in her: Oh no, she thought, this is my classroom. These are my students. I’m in charge here, and no one – NO ONE – is taking that away from me.

With authority swelling to fill the room, she lowered her voice to a place deep in her chest: “All eyes forward.” Conversation stopped. Eyes fixed on Miss B. Surprise and curiosity filled them. “Now that I have your attention, we’re going to continue this class and finish when the bell rings. Any questions?” 

Tommy shook his head, in honest-to-goodness shock. Who was this teacher? The other teachers threw their hands up and gave up when he took over a class. Not this one. Huh. He shook it again, “No, Miss B.” 

“Excellent.’ Put your phones away, and let’s get this party started.” What the heck? She was so calm, so confident, she even twinkled her eyes at them. She genuinely cared.

“You heard the lady,” Tommy said. The students obeyed.

Miss B. shook her head as she turned to her notes. It worked. It actually worked.

Let’s Talk About Fawning

You’ve heard of the three famous responses to trauma, right? It used to be fight or flight. It recently became flight, fight, or freeze. But did you know there’s a fourth? It’s called fawning, and it’s pretty common.

So what exactly is fawning? Well, the dictionary definition is pretty simple:


[ faw-ning ]


seeking favor by flattery or a servile way of behaving:

The billionaire’s donation earned him a fawning front-page news story in the Globe and Mail.


the act or practice of seeking favor by flattery or a servile way of behaving:

On the second-last night of the cruise, we witnessed the fawning of the ship’s wait staff as they jockeyed for a healthy tip.


Fawning is the polar opposite of what Miss B. did. Instead of taking charge, a person who fawns cowers before the threat. They say the equivalent of “Oh please don’t hurt me, I’ll do anything you want.” It’s cowardice, fear, a trauma response. It’s appeasement and can be dangerous.

Fawning is precisely what most aggressors want. It feeds their power hunger and lets them do whatever they want. And it gets many women killed or maimed every year. 

But why would anyone in their right mind roll over and let an aggressor win? Why would anyone choose to let evil prevail? It’s worse than that. Fawning actively encourages and perpetuates chaos, destruction, and death.

The why is obvious. The woman cowers because she feels powerless. Hopeless and helpless to stop the aggressor, she gets crushed even as she begs for mercy.

Do you feel your blood boiling as you read this? Oh, I sure do, and do you know why?

I’m a recovering fawning practitioner.

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From early childhood, I was trained to be a good girl. My conditioning told me to obey a strong voice immediately and unquestioningly. And if I got in trouble, I said and did whatever I could to alleviate the anger I thought was my fault. “You make me so mad.” How many times did I hear my parents tell me that? The old shame and blame game I played for most of my life. 

In some circumstances, it’s appropriate to quickly obey — in the military during war, for example: obey orders now, debrief later.

But in healthy relationships, subservience to the point of voicelessness is dehumanizing. Or, at best, it traps us in perpetual child mode. A child will often fawn, so the parent, teacher, or coach will stop yelling at them. And for some of us, it continues as a “normal” pattern. I fawned because the alternative was a terrifying rage. I conformed to the good daughter, good wife, good mother, and good homeschooler pattern. I couldn’t be my authentic self or use my voice because I lost it somewhere.

Until about four years ago, I perpetuated this pattern. But a series of events culminated in me finding my voice. And using it. Advocating for myself and saying, “No. It stops here and it stops with me.” The fawning, mousy me was gone. In her place, a warrior emerged. A Tigress rose, whose passion is to help other women find their voice. And use it wisely and well.

But why would anyone in their right mind roll over and let an aggressor win? Why would anyone choose to let evil prevail? It’s worse than that. Fawning actively encourages and perpetuates chaos, destruction, and death.

What is This Power?

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“Life and death is in the power of the tongue.” That’s incredible power.

In our From a Whisper to a Roar series, we discussed in Part 1 why silence isn’t an option. In Part 2 we explored the entry-level vocal technique: the low growl. In Part 3, we focused on using a stern voice to let the person know we mean what we say.

Now we add the next level: The Slightly Raised Voice.

What’s that, you ask? Let’s dive in. As the following voice technique in the continuum, it’s a strong, settled, take-charge voice.

Let’s talk about vocal placement, starting with the low growl. The low growl comes through the eyes and top of the nose, the area known among vocal coaches as the mask. Imagine wearing a Zorro or Lone Ranger-style mask. Or better yet, Westley’s from The Princess Bride. Aim your words through that area of your face, and you’ll give a clear warning.

The stern voice comes through the throat area. A little louder and pitched a little lower than the growl, it lets the aggressor know you’re serious.

The slightly raised voice is louder than the stern voice, aimed to resonate through the chest. It’s a big voice. It’s not a weird parody of a man’s voice (which sounds silly). It’s your lowered voice, full of authority and command.

It gets the attacker’s attention and encourages them to move on. It lets them know you’re taking charge of the room, the area, and the people in it. The slightly raised voice tells them they’d better not mess with you. 

Of course, as we’ve said before, you’d better have the skills to back up your big voice, or you’re just bluffing. What happens if they call your bluff? Yeah, you’d be toast—another statistic. 

So you train to make sure you’re ready. Your stance is firm. If you have to, you’ll take on potential attackers because you’ve been preparing and keep coming to class.

How We Do It

So how do we train how to use our voices wisely and well? In our Tigress’ Roar Self-Defense classes, we often roleplay real-life situations. We teach the gamut of vocal techniques, from a whisper to a roar, from a growl to a shout, to curate which tone to use for every situation we face. 

Taking proper authority is essential, even if it’s not against an attacker. Or taking on a student leading a classroom into chaos. 

Maybe it’s an upset teen in your care. Perhaps it’s your child or your niece or nephew. And maybe they just need someone to take charge for everyone’s sake.

Here’s an example of how we roleplay:

Angry teen,”Amy”: (pacing, throwing up her hands, crying, yelling): I hate it here! I don’t want to be here. I’m going to run away! Why do I have to stay here? I hate everybody! 

Teacher/parent: (enters and stops. Start with low stern voice): Amy. 

Amy: (continues pacing and ranting)

Teacher/parent: (a little louder): Amy. Listen to me. Look at me.

Amy: What? You don’t care about me. Nobody cares about me.

Teacher/parent: (a little louder. From the chest. Strong. Authoritative. The slightly raised voice): Amy. Look At Me. (a little quieter but still firm). You’re going to be okay. 

Amy: (stops pacing. Looks at teacher/parent)

Teacher/parent: (gently, caring):  Let’s go for a walk. We’ll figure it out together. 

Learning to use a slightly raised voice at the right moment is critical. We explore the what, the how, and the when during our self-defense classes. We get and give feedback, and we hone our skills. We continue working on the slightly raised voice, as with any other skills we’re learning, keeping it polished and ready in our toolkit right there when we need it.

A well-trained, slightly raised voice tells the attacker: You don’t want this fight. I can and will stop you if you keep going.

But what if the slightly raised voice doesn’t stop them? I’m glad you asked. We’ll talk about that next week as we move to the loud voice. It’s a great skill, and you’re going to love it.

Addressing the Elephant in the Room

Here’s the hard part. You’ve read the article and maybe nodded as you read; yes, that’s right. Oh, good point. Wow, I need this. Then, if you’re like me, you move on to whatever you need to do today and get on with your life, the ordinary day, the routine.

Knowing training in self-defense is essential is an excellent first step. But what if we never follow through? What if we never get it? Mental assent won’t help us if someone breaks into our house, approaches us at the gas pump, or comes at us with a baseball bat. 

So what if we never find money in our budget and space in our calendar to show up for classes? Let’s be honest. Why bother reading this article if we don’t do anything with the information we just read?

I’m just going to say it. I care about you. I care about women, their kids, friends, and families. I want you to be safe out there, and the only way you’ll be safe in this chaotic world is to: 

1. Understand the untrained woman is a target and a likely victim, and 

2. Train your body, mind, and voice to take on and overcome potential attackers.

By investing a few hours each week, you’re going to take back your confidence, your authority, and your voice. And you’ll protect your loved ones, setting a standard that’ll follow you even after you’re gone. 

You’ll become a warrior. You’ll be the strong woman you want to be. But only if you decide it’s worth it.

I believe you will. Because you know it’s that important.

Remember, our door is open, and you’re always welcome here.

Join us.

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