Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Future and the Past

Busy busy busy- That's me the last couple months. Working nights, six nights a week has had me running ragged. Added to that, I've been dealing with bumps in my personal life, hence the lack of writing.

I start fall training this week for my security job. A refresher for returning employees and an introduction for the newbies.

I also became a certified instructor in armed assailant and ground self defense, through the FAST Defense program and its founder, Bill Kipp. It was an immense honor working with Bill, and the experience is one I will never forget. I hope I get the opportunity to work with him in the future. The weekend when I did my certification was an exhausting two days, but I got to meet and work with some amazing people and strengthen my bond with my new mentor- Mrs. Pamela Hickey, who taught the self-defense class this past semester. We got to try out Bill's new Predator armor (I even got to get knocked around in it for a bit!), putting the new suit through its paces. The video below shows some of the guys trying out the armor... and finding its weak points!

Trigger Warning below the break for discussion of domestic violence and rape/sexual assault.
I am incredibly excited to have gotten my instructor certification, and I plan to put it to good use this coming semester with Mrs. Hickey. I will be assisting her with her class this semester and learning how to refine my teaching/coaching skills.

In preparation for the semester, I am rereading Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson and The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker. Both of these books I highly recommend to anyone interested in defense, victim outreach, and surviving rape and sexual assault. The first time I read Speak, it was an intense and surreal experience. I felt as though I was looking at my own life, described through the eyes of another. Though the details of the assault were different, the similar timing and manner through which the protagonist struggles to cope with her assault were frighteningly similar to my own. As I stated in a previous post, I struggled for many years to come to terms with my rape- hell, to even call it rape. I receded away from my life and learned to live with one eye cast over my shoulder.

The Gift of Fear is a book I struggled through the first time I read it, as the statements de Becker makes about violence can be hard to swallow as a survivor. The hardest of these for me to come to terms with was: "The first time they hit you, you're a victim. The second time, you're a volunteer." I fought hard against this notion in my mind, remembering all the times I had turn away, tried to run, or curled up like a turtle in my vain attempts to stay the blows. But the more I chewed on the thought, the more I realized it was true. The first time I was thrown against the lockers should have been the last. But it wasn't. Despite the bruises, I listened to empty promises that it would never happen again. I had every opportunity to leave, to report him, to have him arrested for the things he did. But instead, I protected him and I stayed.

These books, along with my new certification and teaching, will allow me the chance to help young women prevent or overcome trauma similar to my own. By teaching these young women (and a few men as well) to experience the rush of true fear and adrenaline, I can help them think through it and give them the muscle memory to get themselves out of harm's way. By telling them my own story, I can give them a light at the end of the tunnel- there is something, a fulfilling and wonderful life beyond their trauma.

On the downside, my involvement with personal safety and victim/survivor outreach has led me to somewhat distance myself from the secular/skeptical movements, movements that I also feel very passionate about. But I will discuss that more in-depth in another post. Rather, I can throw more of myself into my new students and the outreach work I do. I am finding that by helping these people, I am also helping myself overcome the guilt I felt (and occasionally still feel) for so long; while my abuser will never answer for what he did to me (due in no small part to my protection of him at the time), I can help others ensure that it will not happen to them. I can speak out and put a name and a face to the statistics.

"While we are quick to judge the human rights record of every other country on earth, it is we civilized Americans whose murder rate is ten times that of other Western nations, we civilized Americans who kill women and children with the most alarming frequency. In (sad) fact, if a full jumbo jet crashed into a mountain killing everyone on board, and if that happened every month , month in and month out, the number of people killed still wouldn't equal the number of women murdered by their husbands and boyfriends each year." - "The Gift of Fear," Gavin de Becker

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