Fierce Fridays: Emotional Self Defense

feminist writers, learn about feminism, teaching girls feminism, Fierce, Generation of female empowerment Welcome to week thirteen of sharing excerpts from the book, Fierce: A New Generation of Female Empowerment. This book is for those who have a desire to get the most out of life. Those who want to make positive change, but are not sure how to make it happen. It is for any age female who needs a reminder of how fierce they can be. It is for young women who will soon be out of high school and on their way to college or some other adventure. Share these posts with all the girls and women in your life.  Enjoy!

Emotional Self Defense

 You are capable of standing up for yourself. Even with precautions and smarts, anyone can be a victim. If you do all that you can and you are still abused, it is not your fault. Abusers come in all sizes, colors, and cultures, they choose to hurt and that is their fault, not the people they hurt. Victim blame is a popular phenomenon of making those who suffer feel as if they did something wrong.  Do not fall into this line of thinking. Yes if you juggle saws and cut your arm, then it is your fault, but getting hurt by someone else after you went into a situation that may or may not be dangerous is still not your fault. We each choose and are responsible for how we treat others. We cannot blame someone else if we hurt them or say they were asking for it.

There are three main keys to prevention.

  • Learn to follow your intuition.
  • Be aware of warning signs
  • Have a strong sense of self worth so you can stand up for yourself and fight back.

Intuition is not some magical quality that only certain people are endowed with. EVERYONE has it. You simply need to be aware of your inner guidance system. Intuition is also called “following your gut” or “listening to your heart”.  Label it however you want. You have it and you have the ability to use it.

  • Do you ever get that feeling in the pit of your stomach or those thoughts in your head that something is not quite right?
  • Have warning bells gone off that are telling you to get out of a situation as soon as possible?
  • Do you think maybe this person has an ulterior motive?
  • Does a story you are being told sound untrue?

Ask your intuition “What should I do in this situation? What will be the best first step?” These answers are all feelings of intuition and you can follow those feelings to keep yourself, your friends and your family safe. Sometimes intuition can also feel like nerves. So until you are really in tune with your inner guide you can look for warning signs.

Record your intuitive decisions in a journal. When you encounter an important event write down what happened, how you felt, what your intuition told you and what action you took. Did you follow your instincts? Did you ignore your instincts? What was the outcome? You can later return to your journal to look for patterns and to see how often you do or don’t listen to yourself and whether something turned out to be a good or bad decision.

!Warning Signs! When you are with new people it is important to listen to what they say and be aware of what they want from you. You can get warning signs from people and places. So be aware of your surroundings too.

  • How do they treat you? If someone treats you with respect you are not as likely to be used or abused. However even than there are warning signs from people who suddenly or slowly change their attitude around you. Do they act different around their family or friends compared to when you are alone?  Like a friend that turns into a bully they begin to put you down maybe as a joke at first and slowly become crueler.
  • Are they being more friendly than usual? A manipulator will often charm you into doing what they want without considering how it may affect you. A popular example of this is when someone you admire asks you to do something that you are not comfortable with, but you do it anyway to prove your worth. Often the asker knows very well that you are going against your gut, but feel they can make you do what they want anyway.
  • Did they just guilt trip you? A manipulator will use guilt as a tool to make you feel as if you should do what they want. They usually cry “poor me” or insist that you always get your way.  Guilt is used when someone feels bad about what they did, to deflect blame, or to get revenge. When you are assaulted with guilt turn the tables. Ask the other person if they are purposely trying to guilt trip you. Ask if they are feeling bad and would like to talk about it. These questions let the person know that you are not visiting guilt town with them. You can then try and find a solution together.
  • Do they say disparaging or negative remarks about others, about gender or race? If your date puts down your gender than they probably will not respect you later on in the relationship.  If your friend has prejudices that you personally find offensive, their view is not likely to change. People often have this idea that we can change someone else so that person is more like us and thus easier to get along with. The flaw in this idea is that real change must come from each individual.

Strange Places and Faces! If you are in an unfamiliar area be aware of your surroundings. Only you can decide if this new place is safe.

  • Is it clean or dirty? If the area you are in is in disrepair or very dirty than the people who are there may not have respect for that area, neighbors, or visitors. This is not a safe place to be. If the place is clean, but the people have a negative attitude it can also be unsafe. So it is important to pay attention to the people and your surroundings.
  • Are you in a well lit or public area with lots of people milling around?  If you are in an isolated area and something happens to you such as an injury, harassment or an attack there may not be anyone to help you.
  • Are other people friendly and polite?
  • Do you feel ignored or are people rude towards you?
  • What will you do if a problem arises?
  • Do you see a place to go for help such as a police station, hospital or welcome center?
  • Are you with someone you trust to stay with you and stand up for you?

Communicate! Use your voice. A lot of problems can be prevented when we clearly communicate what we want, need, and do or do not like. People are not mind readers. You may feel like your attitude is telling people what you think, which is often true but this is a dangerous idea. Saying one thing and acting in an opposing manner will give other people a chance to take advantage of you or think that you want something you don’t.  Keep your words and actions in sync.  Be brave and stand up. Don’t let fear keep you from protecting yourself.

When someone is harassing you tell them that you do not like it and ask them to stop. It is important to use an even tone of voice. Sometimes when we get upset we use a mocking or angry tone. This tone will only escalate the situation by creating a defensive feeling in the other person. Staying calm is also important if you need to report harassment to the authorities or a supervisor. There are occasions where letting your anger shine through can protect you, but this is generally in the face of immediate physical danger, not emotional abuse.

Emotional abusers want to rile you up and make you do something that looks bad on your part. Keeping calm and speaking in an even tone prevents your abuser from holding the power. If they cannot get a reaction out of you they will most likely leave you alone. I have had several instances of harassment where I ignored the person and they left me alone. Here is a list of what you can say to an emotional abuser.

  • I don’t appreciate that sort of talk about women (people/race/religion/orientation).
  • I don’t feel that is funny.  That is not funny to me.
  • Please stop doing that. Please stop saying that.
  • You do not have a right to harass me.
  • This school or job is not an appropriate place to say those things (act that way).
  • I will report you to a supervisor if you continue to harass me.
  • I will call the authorities if you continue to harass me.

It is imperative when dating or in a relationship to communicate your wants and needs in the beginning. From violent break ups and stalkers to date or acquaintance rape some situations can be (but not necessarily will be) avoided by simply communicating and being up front about your feelings, expectations and limits. If you are not looking for a serious relationship than tell your partner from the start. If you do not want to have sex with someone tell them before you go to their apartment. Share your boundaries with them and also with family and friends. This way those you are close to can confirm that you had in fact previously communicated what the other person should expect from you.

  • I like you and want to get to know you, but I am not ready for a sexual (physical) relationship.
  • Kissing does not mean that we will have sex.
  • I don’t want to see you anymore.

If the other person refuses to let you go or leave you alone yell for help.  It is said that yelling the words Fire or Police are more likely to bring help than Help or Rape. If you are in a familiar place than seek help from an authority figure. If they cannot help you find the next person in charge and so on until you can find someone to help you. Communicating your distress is important if you need help. If someone continues to bother you, constantly texts, emails and calls you, or follows you than report them right away. This is basic stalker behavior. They get obsessed with you and can become violent.

Be Strong! Doubting your own strength and capabilities turns you into a victim. Each and every one of us has specific talents and qualities that allow us to solve problems and adapt to new situations. By focusing on those skills you will feel competent and not be afraid to take action.

  • How do you react to stress?
  • How do you naturally respond to stress and pressure from others?
  • Do you become so upset you lash out?
  • Do you get flustered and have a hard time clearly communicating?
  • In what way can that reaction be turned into a positive action?
  • Practice, practice, practice!  Teach yourself to react in a way that does not escalate negative emotions or violence. Remember what you learned in the Stress and Anger Management section. Use those suggestions to train yourself how to react in a healthy way when anyone hassles you …Continue reading at Bookemon.com

 

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