The Price Is High

A month or so ago, I received a gift from The Gun Divas.  Two books by Gavin De Becker.  I was currently reading 3 other books at the time, but that night the books came, I opened up one, the Gift Of Fear and began reading.

The book opens with a story about a woman named Kelly.  Kelly is in the stairwell of her apartment complex on her way up to her apartment when she encounters a man.  She has never seen him before, but he seems nice enough. He offers to help, she says no, the have an exchange of words.  She isn’t sure why, she is not comfortable with him. Nothing about him is scary.  He is dressed nice, he is being nice and he is making no threats at all. You probably have already guessed this does not end well. The man rapes Kelly in brutal fashion.

The guy who attacked me also was dressed nicely.  He had short well kept hair.  He was clean and he spoke very softly and he smiled. His eyes were cold and lacked soul.  My daughter’s pictures are bone chillingly accurate and when she talks of that day, his eyes are the thing she often comes back to, but he smiled and he said all the right things a nice person is suppose to say.

I wish more classes would focus on the fact that many attacks on woman happen slower and are not quite as obvious as the person who runs up behind you and screams some threat.  Many attacks are fast and fit the profile of someone coming up behind, grabbing you and a struggle ensues, but I would hasten to guess, from my reading that there are an equal number of attacks that happen in a more stalking kind of way.  For women the bar room scene is less about a discussion that gets out of hand and quickly turns into a brawl and more of the profiling, get to know you, even though you don’t trust me, get you to at the very least follow me outta here, kind of thing. No class has time to discuss every possible scenario, but I think it would be beneficial to at least mention that for women, it can be very different.  Often the wolf is in fact dressed like a sheep.

I was not raped, but much of my story and hers are the same.  A man we did not know approached us, uninvited and did not leave us alone when we asked. Kelly’s guy also said things like “Don’t worry”  “I won’t hurt you”  Like me, she felt those words were the opposite of comforting.  She did make it out alive as did I, but not without some tough life lessons.  She threw herself into healing and learning how to never again be a victim. She says looking back she can see that her internal voice was talking to her, that her intuition had been guiding her along and she can see where she listened and that without knowing she did act on signals that helped her to save her own life.  My attack was interrupted, so I can not says as definitively as she can, but, I too, can see things I did right that day, that at the very least kept me alive until someone else came along. Kelly talks about being tired of feeling guilty for letting him get that close to her and tired of being blamed for being stupid. 

After I got home from Memphis I picked up the book again and began to read.  I am not surprised that the universe conspired that I would read the chapter I read the day after I wrote my post about the trip.

The author says: “I’v seen many times that after the shock of violence has begun to heal, victims will be carried in their minds back to the hallway or parking lot, back to the sights, smells, and sounds, back to the time when they still had choices, before they fell under someone’s malevolent control, before they refused the gift of fear.”

As I realized on the plane coming home, there was plenty of time for me to have made different choices between when I first felt fear and when he was on top me.  I was afraid and I did not act on that fear, not enough anyway.

DeBecker says, “Often they will say about some particular detail. I realize this now, but I didn’t know it then.  Of course, if it is in their heads now, then it was in their heads then.  What they mean is that they only now accept the significance.  With denial, the details we need for the best predictions float silently by us like life preservers, and while the man overboard may enjoy the comfortable belief that he is still in his stateroom, there is soon a price to pay for his daydream.

The price is high.

“Maybe some good can come of this.” “The weird thing is, with all this information, I am actually less afraid walking around now then I was before it happened-but there must be an easier way for people to learn.”-Kelly

DeBecker, A woman could offer no greater cooperation to her soon to be attacker than to spend time telling herself, “But he seems like such a nice man”…. A woman waiting for an elevator sees a man and she feels apprehension… How does she respond to natures strongest strongest survival signal? She suppresses it and says “I am not going to live like this.”

The irony is that so many of us say, we are not going to live our lives in fear.  We are not going to learn how to protect ourselves or carry a gun because we refuse to let the bad guy win.  We refuse to give him that kind of power over our lives.  We use the excuse of not being afraid and that lie puts us in the most vulnerable position we can be in, defenseless. When you are out of excuses and when someone is lying on top you telling you exactly how they plan to take full control of your life, well, then you will get to experience the kind of life altering fear that Kelly and I did. 

There has got to be an easier way for one to learn.

20 thoughts on “The Price Is High

  1. There has got to be an easier way for one to learn.

    I believe that waht you and Kelly are doing is the easier way for one to learn. Learning from the experiences of others who have gone before you is easy, if one is willing to listen and learn. You learned the hard way, Kelly learned the hard way and yes, I learned the hard way. All we can do is share our experiences and hope others learn from us before they tread the same ground we already have.


  2. Sometimes people have a problem commenting, so they email me. With permission I am posting the comment here…

    Guffaw in AZ said…
    If I remember correctly, DeBecker dislikes firearms for self-defense. Has he changed his tune? Otherwise, he’s only philosophically describing the ‘meme’ of attack and fear, not an appropriate response.

    • de Becker does come off as anti-gun. However, I can overlook that because his overall message is too good to ignore. A gun may not always be the answer. It’s certainly a great equalizer in the right situation, but it you learn to listen to your gut, you’ll hopefully be in fewer situations that require an equalizer.

  3. This is a hard one. I don’t know that there is a easier way. We (as people) can be as prepared as possible and things will still happen. We will always second guess what we should have, would have, could have done. The truth is, is that until we are put in a particular situation we don’t know how we will respond. We can have a black belt in martial arts, ne a expert shot, a trained field medic and a expert in all things defensive. Even with training we don’t know how we will respond to a particular situation. Until we are faced with it head on we don’t know how we will react.

    . In your situation you did what you knew to do up to that point. You protected yourself and your child the best you knew how – at that point. You know more now.

    Hopefully more people will learn, more people will take responsibility for their own selves and more people will realize they ARE worth fighting for.

    Until that day there is no ” easier way”.

    • I could not disagree with you more. It’s true there is no 100% garuntee how anyone will react, but time and time again we see that learning does in fact prepare us for a variety of situations. The brain is designed in just that way. Build neural pathways is the esseence for all learning. The more we do something, the more it becomes second nature even in the face of fear.

      The easier way is to admit that sticking ones head in the sand is not an answer to dealing with the dangers that lurk and to learn real skills to fight.

      Yes, I did what was right because I am alive, blah, blah, blah…NO I DIDN’T! The bad guy is bad, I am not talking about guilt, but there is plenty that can be done to help people avoid being victims.

    • The biggest problem with most people regarding “reaction” is there is an input that they are untrained or unable to handle.

      In the computer world it’s like an Unhandled Exception. Something has happened and your brain searches it’s file box for what to do. The problem is your brain doesn’t know what to do. Searching your brain for this situation gives a “File Not Found”. Your brain then process the input again with the same result. You have to get some other significant input you do know how to deal with to break back out of the loop.

      There is always the second guessing because all the information becomes available after the fact. True analysis comes from analyzing moment by moment throwing out future information. What happened at time x and prior that works as a clue. There were markers no doubt, however your brain may not have actually recognize the markers for what they were at the time.

      Interestingly some research has been done into memories lately. While I’m not saying you should wipe out memories, of interest is the act of remembering is causing your brain to relive the experience. The catch of reliving the experience however is all of your emotions the same. Think about what I said above regarding the markers. The fear and uneasiness you feel now as he approached may not have actually been present at the actual moment in time, however you remember it because of new wiring paths in your brain.

      I have a post now brewing in the back of my head except I am the last person who should be writing something like it up. But my thoughts currently center around the fact that for the most part people in general aren’t taught how to interpret most behavioral inputs. We train for the obvious attacker, the mugger, the armed assailant. The type of predators above we aren’t trained to spot. If we don’t know how to spot them, when they arrive on our door step we’re going to become like a deer in head lights with a file not found. When they provide input we aren’t going to recognize it.

      The only way around this problem I see is thought experiments. The problem there is where do you get the basis for the events in your thought training. (Play a situation out in your head, it does actually help prevent file not found errors interestingly enough.) The solution to that second problem is to play the red team.

      For these types of scenarios it is a disturbing road, however in playing the red team you will learn more about your enemy than you could possibly imagine. There is a phrase, “He who fights monsters should be careful he not become one himself.” You must realize that these types of predators are monsters, and to learn to effectively see them and fight them you must think like them to understand what they’re going to do.

      When the fight is actually on, initiative is everything, the predator is trying to calm the prey because he needs to be in a position to take total control of the situation. Think of the hunter, he doesn’t stand in the middle of a field unmasked. The prey would just laugh at him. Just the same these predators don’t want to spook their prey, they need to do a couple things to take control of a situation. You have to recognize that and actively maintain control of it yourself, their game is control because without it they can become prey.

      There’s my ramblings, it may be incoherent, I’ve been at work for 11+ hours, but I’m hoping it sheds some light in your brain.

      I might drop you an email tonight if I have time on one of your other posts.

  4. It is possible that I am feeling cynical today – but until people are willing to step up and be prepared, train, be proactive there isn’t a easier way. I can’t force anyone to train or study or research or learn. We can offer to help them learn by offering classes and training and the like but until they are willing to do it for themselves it falls on deaf ears.

    • Well yes, that we agree on. That is my point. I want people to take the “easier” way of learning before they get attacked or before there child does. I want to try to get people to take that responsibility in a way I didn’t. I am telling you, my way is not the best way and almost any other way is “easier”

  5. The easier way to learn is through someone elses bad experiences. It doesn’t have the impact of learning through your own bad experiences, but it does have the advantage of being less painful.
    Kelly (and you) were not stupid. Naive, perhaps, but either way she was living in the world as it was to her at the time. I would love to live in a world where such naivety is not a problem, but until then…there is Glock.

  6. AGirl, I have read that book until the pages fell out and then I bought new copies. I made all of my children read it; I hope that it offers some insight and comfort for you as it did me while I was being stalked.

    Whether or not de Becker’s anti-gun (as I’ve heard from multiple people) is a moot point. The point is that we need to learn to listen and trust ourselves.

    • I agree completely. I am not giving up my gun. It is a powerful tool. I have absolutely zero issue with using it, but if I can avoid having to shoot someone without sacrificing my own welfare, then I am for that.

      This book offers a lot of great insight into the mind of a criminal and into the minds of the rest of us. I am for using all resources to our benefit.

      I am finding it very helpful, but I do understand the people who want to point out the authors views. It is important to know where the person you are “trusting” is coming from and also for people to know, while he offers some good advice, he is wrong on guns.

      Thank you again. It has been a true gift!

  7. There are three types of people principally:

    Do you know what separates a smart man from a wise man?

    A smart man learns from his mistakes.
    A wise man learns from other peoples mistakes.

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