Her Shout Made Him Move
We shouldered our gear and headed out of the building one night after classes, around 9:20 p.m. I was most of the way to my car, and the others were walking to theirs, but Steph was still on the landing at the top of the small flight of steps in front of the door. So she was the one who saw it.
A young couple across the street at the shopping center were yelling at each other. Steph sensed danger. As she watched, the male threw a water bottle at the female. It struck the woman, not very hard, and skittered off into the parking lot.
That crossed the line. Steph shouted as loud as she could in a deep low voice, “HEY!” Her big voice. “YOU DON’T THROW WATER BOTTLES AT OTHER PEOPLE.”
The guy shouted back at Steph, blaming the girl, saying it was her fault, something like, “Well, she did blah blah blah…”
Steph said “I DON’T GIVE A F! YOU DON’T DO THAT!”
He didn’t answer. The couple walked away.
The whole encounter took maybe a minute or so. Steph walked over to her car, keeping an eye on where the couple went. She exchanged glances with her husband, Fran, who asked, “Do you want to drive over there to see if she’s okay?” So they did.
They found the pair a couple of streets over, both sitting on the ground. Steph ignored the male and addressed the female. “Are you okay? Do you need help? Would you like to come with me?”
“No, the girl answered, “we were just arguing.”
Steph encouraged the girl to call the police if she needed to, then she and Fran exchanged a look. It was okay to leave.
What did Steph do that day? That’s what we’re going to talk about in this blog. Buckle up. It’s quite the ride.
It’s Not Just a Lot of Hot Air
What is a shout? Well, let’s start with what it’s not. The shout we’re talking about isn’t simply a loud noise. It’s not the same as a dog barking (especially if it’s a yappy dog, my apologies to all yappy dogs). It’s not hysterical shrieking. It’s not an out-of-control outburst. So what is this vocal level that tells the aggressor I WILL do whatever it takes to stop you if you don’t stop yourself? What is this level of authority that makes them want to stop what they’re doing and get away from you?
Let’s take a look at a dictionary definition.
US /ʃaʊt/ UK /ʃaʊt/
shout verb (USE LOUD VOICE)
A2 [ I ] to speak with a very loud voice, often as loud as possible, usually when you want to make yourself heard in noisy situations, or when the person you are talking to is a long way away or cannot hear very well: There’s no need to shout, I can hear you.
A2 [ I or T ] to express strong emotions, such as anger, fear, or excitement, or to express strong opinions, in a loud voice: “Stop this childish nonsense at once!” he shouted furiously.
A2 [ I ] to try to attract attention in a loud voice: I heard them shouting for help, but there was nothing I could do.https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/shout
It’s yelling at the top of your voice. It’s impossible to ignore. But what powers the shout? We know it’s not just a lot of empty (albeit loud) noise. So what makes it so powerful, the person on the other end is motivated enough to get away, and get away fast? I think you know the answer, and you’re probably right.
The dictionary definitions, above, give some rather bland motives behind all that noise: The first, “when you want to make yourself heard in noisy situations” is certainly one. And of course if the person is too far away to hear you unless you, well, shout. But that kind of shouting is just talking, only louder.
Anyone can shout like that. We don’t need to train it. We’ve been using our voices at high volumes since infancy.
The second definition is a little closer to our why and way of shouting. We certainly use it to express strong emotions, including fear. Definitely anger.
But this anger isn’t blind rage. It’s more a sense of injustice at what’s happening and why. It bubbles up inside, getting to the point where the shout signals they’ve reached the end of your tolerance. It’s the next logical step in the process of stopping the aggressor. The one that says, “That’s your last verbal warning.”
But as the last verbal warning, it’s so much more than words. It’s a fire in the belly shooting out through the mouth. What stokes this fire? The rage against injustice, the anger toward a potential (or actual) attacker. It’s a fierce protective instinct.
It’s the same sense of outrage some describe as Mama Bear. If anything – and I mean any threat whatsoever – comes at my baby, you’re in for a fight. And I’ve had enough. You have one more chance to change your mind about what you’re doing. If you choose to keep going, I will fight you.
But this anger isn’t blind rage. It’s more a sense of injustice at what’s happening and why.
It’s the last verbal line of defense, and it forces the aggressor to make a decision:
1. They can choose to stop what they’re doing and walk away.
2. If they keep going the altercation may move from verbal to physical restraint. Or from merely talking to calling the police. Or both.
So let’s review the vocal continuum that led us to the shout. In our first installation of our series: I
- In From a Whisper to Roar (Part 1): Silence Costs Too Much, we explored why we can’t just keep silent.
- In From a Whisper to a Roar (Part 2): Quietly in Charge we explored the low growl, the quiet warning, as our first verbal interaction.
- In From a Whisper to a Roar (Part 3): The Stern Says You Mean It we leveled up to the stern voice when the low growl didn’t stop them.
- Since the stern voice didn’t deter the attacker, we had to employ the slightly raised voice, which we examined in From a Whisper to a Roar (Part 4): Now That I Have Your Attention.
Now, since the slightly raised voice didn’t stop them, we must deploy the strongest vocal tool in our toolkit: the shout.
My Mom Used The Big Voice
Back in the early 1980s my mom babysat neighborhood kids before and after they went to school. Two, Graham and Eddie, were best buddies. Every weekday morning they trekked to their bus stop, and my mom watched from the house, making sure they got there okay. Well one afternoon the boys came back crying. Apparently two young teen guys were picking on them. My mom’s eyes blazed when they told her, and she devised a plan.
The next morning, Mrs. A., as the kids called her, trekked up that hill with Graham and Eddie to face those bullies. I wish I could remember what she said, but her voice was loud. Commanding. Refusing to hear their excuses, going all the way to a shout to shut them down.
It wasn’t about tit for tat, an adult picking on teens. In fact my mom has a soft spot in her heart for all kids. But she definitely set those two boys straight. She stayed till the bus picked up Graham and Eddie, and was there when they stepped off the bus that afternoon.
And the two teen boys? Never a peep from them again. As for Graham and Eddie? Graham is a kind, protective husband and father. And Eddie? About 15 years ago my mom attended his wedding. And when he introduced her to his new bride he beamed, “This is Mrs. A.!” His little boy smile showed he was still so grateful for my mom, his defender, who was there when he needed her most.
How We Do It
We have a variety of ways to train the steady, increasing burn from low growl to shout. During class we create and act out various scenarios where we’re the ones defending the child, the friend, the stranger, ourselves – from the aggressor who just won’t take no for an answer.
Sometimes we just work on getting that fire stoked to begin with. As you know, women tend to be “nice.” So we may revert to passivity and shrink back when we should speak up. And we identify where the fire needs to be to power the shout – deep in the belly, down in the hips.
In class we also learn how to find outrage. Maybe we’ll picture someone coming after our kids, or coming after our mom. Maybe an angry spouse we always capitulated to because we were too scared of the rage coming our way if we said what we really thought. And we were done with that nonsense. We find the passion for justice for ourselves and the defenseless. And we stoke that fire, keeping the coals burning, so it’s ready for us when we need to power the shout.
Our classes are safe spaces where we can go ahead and feel the anger. Feel the injustice. Feel the fire that says Oh no, you’re not getting away with that. And if emotions arise in you you’ve never felt safe feeling, we want you to know It’s okay. We’re here to help you learn to navigate your feelings as they come up. We’ve been there, too, and we understand where you are and what you’re going through.
Mrs. A defended the defenseless in her care. If the bullies didn’t back down after she loudly decried their behavior and motivated them to move on, she knew she could – and would – contact their parents and advocate for her two precious charges as far as she needed to to ensure they got justice.
Steph didn’t leave her training in class, but saw injustice and shouted against the evil happening right there in front of her. She did all she could in the moment, and could leave the situation with a clear conscience. Because she was fully trained with numerous back up plans, she could effectively and immediately advocate for the young woman.
When Steph’s voice electrified the air that night as she shouted at the man throwing the bottle, her authority took command. We stood, rooted in place. We’d never heard such volume or command from Steph. And we were (and are) so proud of her because she doesn’t just teach self-defense. She follows through in the real world.
It took her a while to calm down. Why? Well, the fire behind the authority burns in her and in us, and it’s why we started Tigress’ Roar.
We defend ourselves. We defend those in our care. We teach others to do the same. We do it because someone needs to stand against injustice. And that someone is us.
We can’t take on all the evils in this world, but we can defend our bodies, our lives, our neighborhoods and every place we go. We don’t have to sit on the sidelines while aggressors take charge, our hands limp in our laps. We can choose to act. So we do, keeping our tools fresh and new, our skills honed through continuous training.
We refuse to let wickedness win. We refuse to cede authority to arrogant bullies of any age. We stand up and go all the way to a shout – and beyond if needed – to stop it and send the bad guys running.
We choose to train, and we welcome all who want the same fire in their bellies to take on evil and win. We can do something. At Tigress’ Roar we offer a remedy and we open our door wide to all who want it.
Our door is open to you. You’re welcome here.