Someone asked in a class where we are studying conflict if you can defend yourself in a violent way, yet still be at peace within yourself and towards the person. My answer was a definitive yes, and I shared an experience as a damsel in defense to illustrate my opinion.
When I was 18 I was waiting at a bus stop. An older man was there, and he didn’t speak a lot of English, but he was obviously trying to communicate. He pointed to me and asked my age, and wrote his on a piece of paper. 79. He guessed mine at 30, and I could only stare at him incredulously. Things took a turn for the worse when he put his hand on my thigh. I froze, and then started to scoot away. He continued, moving his hand up my waist, saying “very nice, beautiful, very nice”. He moved towards my chest and held me with his other hand so I couldn’t merely squirm away. My mind starting flashing through scenarios. I could kill him, I thought, a normal attack on a 79 year old man could have devastating consequences, for instance a normal strike that could hurt a young male could trigger a heart attack in an older man. It may sound weird that I was worrying about him at a time like that, while he was invading my space and wouldn’t pull away or let go, but the truth is, even as you are deciding that you must take action to stay safe, you don’t have to have hatred, you don’t have to WANT to do harm. But let me be clear, I would not have even been considering his welfare if I truly felt endangered and not in control of the situation.
I feel that we as women are compassionate by nature. We aren’t cowards, but truly we do not like the idea of harming others. There is no reason we have to let go of the compassion to defend ourselves. That’s what it means to be a damsel in defense. Especially in a case like the one I was in. I fully support grip it and rip it in a dire straight, but in lesser situations I believe that the least force necessary to escape is the right way to go.
So I grabbed his hand, and pulled it away as I stood up to go. He wouldn’t let go, and the way I had grabbed him is a way I was taught to move an offending hand, so that if they let go and let their hand drop away, they won’t be hurt, but if they resist, it will start to break bones. Sure enough I heard a crunch, and I figure I probably broke his wrist. And I ran. Was I happy? Yes, to get away. But I was sad I had to hurt another human being, I was sad that I couldn’t stop the assault through words and pulling away. But I would have been sadder if I hadn’t fought back at all.
A lot of factors went into my fairly non-violent reaction. His age, his relatively minor level of assault (at least to start), his lack of weapons, the fact that it was broad daylight and in public so the assault was unlikely to go beyond a certain level. I’m not suggesting that you act the same way as me, but I am suggesting that you weigh your defense options against the nature of the assault and the offender. If you aren’t like me, and think you’ll panic, then forget it and defend yourself to the fullest of your ability. As I heard in concealed carry, it’s better to be tried by twelve (a jury) than carried by 6 (pallbearers). The law will hold you accountable if you use excessive force, but if that’s the only deterrent, then play it more safe towards protective your life and your privacy.
I don’t want this post to stop women from defending themselves, but I do want them to realize that you don’t need to be a hate-filled or violent person to stop someone from hurting you. It’s okay to feel reluctance to cause pain and damage, as long as your first priority is stopping pain and damage to yourself.