We all have moments of pulse pounding fear in our lives that are forever seared into our brains. Thank God I’ve never mugged, or raped, but I’ve been terrified. Mind-numbingly terrified. And I’ve been angry at injustices and everything that make us afraid. That’s probably why I like to read and write mysteries. In a mystery, there may be violence and murder, but in the end all is resolved. The bad guys pay and the innocent get justice. Not at all like real life.
Growing up in the country, I didn’t have a lot of exposure to the “mean streets.” But knowing that I was going to move to a city, I took a self-defense class in college. In Posed for Murder, I have Lydia McKenzie take a self-defense class because the experience was important to me, and I wanted to write about it.
At first, I didn’t like the class at all. The teacher told us horrible stories about women who were kidnapped, raped and tortured. We acted out frightening scenarios that I hated even to think about. What if you wake up in the middle of the night and a strange man is on top of you? What do you do? What if you are walking alone and are surrounded by three attackers? What if they have a gun? It was enough to give me nightmares.
But then I slowly started to see the point. In each scenario, we had to come up with a plan. I learned that we have choices even at the moment that we feel the most powerless. We rehearsed and tried different techniques that would work even if our attacker had ten times the muscle mass that we did. And we learned not to panic, and figure out how to be smarter and faster then an attacker.
We are strong, much stronger than we imagine. Attackers are looking for vulnerable victims, so walking strong is to your advantage. Always be aware of your surroundings (no headphones, etc.) and trust your gut. Scream at the first sign that something is wrong (an attacker won’t know if anyone heard or if help is on the way, so they’ll be more likely to cut and run).
We don’t have control over everything in our lives, but we can walk the streets with confidence if we know that we have skills to fight back against things that go bump in the night. And if you have one Halloween resolution this year (if there is such a thing), I hope it is to take a self-defense class at some point in your future. It certainly helped me fight back against my fears.