RAD Womens: Going Off-Script

We were about halfway through a Women’s Self-Defense class, and had stopped for a break. As we sat down and sipped from water bottles, I asked the participants how they felt about trusting their intuition, going with their gut feelings, and did this play a role in keeping them safe. Most realized that, however it worked, their intuition helped them make wise choices and avoid trouble. One woman, however, wasn’t so sure. “Sue” said that her job of being a nanny to two very young children (while taking care of her own toddler at the same time) was so demanding and stressful that she didn’t have time to pay attention to gut feelings. It was hard enough just keeping the baby and 2 toddlers under control; how was she supposed to think about her own safety, too? To check that no one was hiding in the backseat before she opened the car door… to make sure the stairwell in the parking deck was clear before bringing the kids through. The techniques I was showing her were nice to know, but she worried she wouldn’t be able to use them in a real-life situation if, heaven forbid, one actually developed.

I was reminded of a story I’d read in Gavin deBecker’s book, Protecting the Gift. He related how a mother was able to fight off an attacker as she held a child in one arm and another behind her back, shielding him with her body. She yelled, kicked, and chased after this man until he turned, ran to his truck, and drove away as fast as he could. deBecker’s advice: Do not try to attack a woman with her children. Her Mother Bear instincts will come out and you will lose.

RAD techniques, when done correctly, should alleviate a woman’s fears and increase her confidence. But that wasn’t happening for Sue because of her worries. So, we went off-script for a bit and created an exercise based on her concerns. We gave her a gym bag to carry in one hand, to represent the car carrier she uses to transport the baby she cares for. Then, two other women in the class held hands with her, becoming the “toddlers.”

We developed a scenario that was familiar to her: “Okay, you’re in a parking lot and you want to get into the store. But, there’s a guy coming toward you. He sees you’ve got your hands full and your attention divided. He thinks you’re an easy mark. What are you gonna do?”

Having spent the previous two hours learning about the various vulnerabilities of an attacker and the personal weapons she has at her disposal, Sue realized that having both hands full of children was not a problem. She yelled for empowerment and strength, and also to bring attention to her situation. Then, she fired off a series of hard, targeted kicks–and basically beat the heck out of me, my assistant, and the protective pads we were using.

No longer concerned that she won’t be able to use what she has learned, Sue found that the Mother Bear instinct is, indeed, alive and… kicking. (Sorry.) She knows that, if she ever has to defend herself or her little ones, she has all the tools she needs.

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8 Responses to “RAD Womens: Going Off-Script”

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