25 June 2006

Speaking up

Yelling was one of the first things I learned in the wonderful Women's Self Defense class I took 16 years ago.

As "ladies" we learn to be quiet, to not make a scene, to not take up space. All of that works against us in an attack situation. Attackers count on women not yelling or fighting back. I have talked to many rape survivors who said they did not make a sound because they were afraid of making the attacker even more angry.

Effective self-defense programs work on undoing that societal training. My course claimed that they trained us in an adrenaline-response mode - in other words, we learned to fight while we were terrified, just like we would be in real life. The instructors said that would help seal the training into us so that we could react quickly, without thinking, if we ever needed to.

I've used My Big Voice a few times since I took the class. One time I walked into my living room to find 2 strangers standing there. They didn't seem threatening but neither did Ted Bundy, the serial killer. I took a defensive posture and yelled "Get the f*** out of my house!" and they ran like terrified rabbits.

It turns out that they were at an open house on the same property and thought my house was open too, when it was not. It was a little embarrassing to hear their explanation and to have to calm them down, but ya know, I think it is a perfectly reasonable response to tell random strangers to get out of your house.

Then there is yelling at attacking dogs, which I have written about in previous posts .

Those situations both occurred were when I was perfectly wide awake and, in the case of the dogs, had some notice of impending attack.

Last night I went over to Mr. Stapler's to have some dinner with friends. We had some drinks and sat around talking after dinner. They stay up later than me, so I went to bed about 11 p.m. in the guest room because there were no sheets on Mr. S's bed (men!) I fell immediately into a deep sleep.

At 11:45, Mr. Stapler's dog dashed into the room and he turned on the hall light and barged in to get her so she wouldn't bother me.

I awoke not remembering where I was, only knowing that I was in a strange room with a man walking in the door. Without my glasses my range of clear vision ends about 4 inches in front of my nose so Mr. S was just a blur.

Before I knew what I was doing, I started yelling as loud as I could. For a long time. I am not sure what I was yelling, only that it was operatic in its force and everyone was stopped in their tracks.

I finally realized what was going on. Mr. Stapler was freaked out and I was in a complete state of wide-awake buzz-buzz with my heart leaping in my chest and wondering if the neighbors had called the police.

Thankfully, he lives in a suburban neighborhood where the houses are far apart and people can scream at the top of their lungs in complete privacy.

By yelling so loud, I broke my voice. Today I sound like Demi Moore. Once again, I am a bit embarrassed by my performance, but on the other hand I'm glad to know that, 16 years later, that training is still sealed in my body and ready to be used at any time.


super des said...

kudos to you.
I agree, the most important step is having the training burned into you so you can react without thinking, especially when the attack is sudden or unexpected. Especially when dogs who know come into the room you are sleeping in, followed by person or persons also known to you. Keep 'em on their toes.

SUEB0B said...

Thanks for the support, Des. LOL

Caryn said...

That was hilarious, even if it was on a serious topic. I have dreams sometimes where I need to yell but I can't. I wonder if that's connected to the psychology behind women not yelling in self-defense when they should.

Suzanne said...

How the hell did those people get into your house and why were they not suspicious that there was no realtor there? I assume the door was not unlocked.

SUEB0B said...

Suzanne - have you ever heard of those towns where "no one ever locks their doors"? This was that kind of town. The realtor was in the other house on the property, the open one. I guess she failed to tell people not to visit the guest house and they strolled right in.

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