Last week I read an article by Greg Ellifritz about Timing during an attack. It’s a very good article and you really should read it.
Greg talks about his experience training people. He has found that many of them do not see themselves as worthy of defending. I have heard that from several other instructors as well, so I am sure it is true, but for me, that was not my issue.
You know I have spent a great deal of time trying to figure out why I didn’t fight back when I was mugged. During the process I heard this theory before, “people don’t think their life is valuable” and because I was so passive, I thought that must be what my problem was. “I can’t hurt him, so I must being placing a higher value on him than me.” Seems logical, but in my case it was something completely different.
I do not now nor have I ever had low self esteem. I have always, for the most part, liked who I was and I believed my life had value. What I didn’t understand was that it was ok to hurt someone in defense of that value. For me I had two factors at work. A very violent childhood that left a very nasty taste in my mouth. I did not want any part of that life inside my home as an adult. I practiced a life of passiveness. I practiced it so long that it became how I reacted “instinctively.” I put that in quotes because I think people believe that instinct means only what you are born with and it can’t be changed or influenced, when in fact it can. Mine has changed drastically over the last 15 months.
The other reason is that I was raised to believe that in order to be safe I should do what the bad guy wanted. It wasn’t that the bad guy had more value, but my parents believed that if a person complied with the bad guy and gave him the car, money, whatever, then in the end the person’s life would be spared. They truly believed that. No surprise that my parents were raised in violent households. These things tend to get passed on. In their houses as in mine, the best way to deal with a violent, drunk, abusive parent was to comply. I didn’t think my parents had more worth, but I learned quickly that the punching stopped quicker if I just said nothing or promised to stop doing whatever pissed them off in the first place.
Not fighting back for me was the result of learned behaviors on how to survive a lifetime of violence, not as the result of thinking my life had no value.
The second part of the article talks about the knee jerk reaction of some people to believe that the gun is the be all end all answer to ever situation. I hear this all the time. People ask me why I bother carrying a knife or learning combative because the reason they carry a gun is to avoid all that other messy self defense crap. “I will just whip my gun out and blow their brains out.” Or maybe not. I think training to be effective with your gun is paramount which is why I do it, but knowing when it might not be the best solution is just as important.
I make this claim all the time. No matter what if I am ever attacked again, I will fight back and I mean that. But to me “fight back” means make a conscious choices about how best to survive. It may be to wait or feign compliance. It may be to run, avoid, lie, pretend, punch, kick, shank, shoot, or all of those things, but regardless of what I do or don’t do, it won’t be nothing.
What I did in the parking lot was nothing. Not because I didn’t punch and kick, but because their was no conscious thought. I did not make a choice that said not kicking, not screaming, not fighting back is what will be best for my and my daughter’s survival. The problem wasn’t my actions or inaction, but it was in my lack of thinking. I allowed him to be in full control. I never even thought of an option. I freely and willing handed him over my money, my body, my will without so much as a one second thought. That is my definition of not fighting back.
In general I think most cases will require some action on my part. Running, screaming get back, or something more aggressive, but I may “fight back”, by choosing not to fight. If I see that as my best option, so be it, but it will be a choice as a result of doing something…thinking. Either way, the outcome is not guaranteed. The bad guy may get my money, my body, my life, but he will never again get my will.
Go read the article if you haven’t already. It just may help you survive or at the very least get you to think.