Fierce: A New Generation of Female Empowerment, Self Defense

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


Self Defense

Stand Up Speak Up

Every day the media brings us stories of violence, pain and tragedy. A lot of this news is domestic abuse, sex slavery, trafficking, rape, and murder. There is no guarantee that your gender, social standing, race, religion, or family can protect you from violence. It is a part of our world.  However there is good news. Much of what we hear, read, and see is preventable.  Keeping out of dangerous situations is the number one way to stay safe and prevent violence.  Being aware, looking for warning signs, and knowledge can protect you. You may think that a lot of the warning signs below are something we all do or have done at one point.  While that may be true, these are still signs that someone has a problem with abusing others. I encourage you to memorize these actions and pay more attention to people who act in any of these ways.

Overly Charming. Generally people are nice and we think that nice is always a sign that someone is good. However if someone is too nice they may be trying to coerce you into doing something you don’t want. They want you to drop your guard so they can get you alone and hurt you. Don’t trust someone just because they tell you to or because everyone else says they are so nice. Trust is something that must be earned.

Funny Disrespect. Does your partner, date,  friend, coworker or employer make disparaging remarks about your gender, race, sexuality, or beliefs? Do they make it sound like a joke? If you say “That isn’t funny”, do they tell you to not be such a baby? Do they put down your opinions? If so, they probably won’t respect you saying “no” or “stop” later on. This person is acting like a jerk.  Let them know that behavior does not fly with you. Do not follow these people to isolated locations. Spend as little time as possible with them. If you cannot escape their company, let someone close to you know how they act. Stand up to them if you must spend time with them.

Flares of Anger. Do you know someone who cannot control their angry outbursts?  Do they regularly get angry over every little annoyance? Do they put you or others down? Next time, it might be you that they lash out at.  Emotional abuse is no joke. People who cannot control their anger are unsafe to be alone with so limit your time with them or kick them out of your life completely. If they are allowed to get away with this behavior it only intensifies. Emotional scars can last a lifetime and  eventually they will hurt someone physically.

Shift the Blame.  Abusers insist it is never their fault. They are control freaks or whiny brats who search out victims to take the blame for their bad attitude. A common theme in abuse is saying that “So and so made me so angry, and that is why I hurt them.”  This is a huge warning sign.  We cannot make other people angry. Anger is an internal emotion. That means, we as individuals, allow things to piss us off, not other people. We decide how to react to everything that comes our way.  Don’t be a victim.

Stupid Clause.  Abusers hand out insults like Santa on Christmas eve. Everything you do and say is wrong to them. They have no respect for you at all. They will call you stupid, set you up to fail, remark on your weight, criticize every decision you make and generally make you feel worthless. They publicly humiliate you so you are ashamed to go anywhere.  It’s hard to fight back against such cruel immaturity.  It’s easy to call them names back and even easier to ignore them and walk away. Block your chimney from this charlatan.

Just The Way It Is. There is a prevailing stereotype about people being certain ways and this is the easiest ways to excuse abuse. Men and boys are rough and solve problems with their fists. Women and girls are fragile and solve problems with words.  Mean girls and rough boys. This attitude allows anyone to get away with physical and emotional abuse. It is not “normal” for women to use hurtful words or gossip to fight or prove a point just like it is not okay for men to use their fists to solve a problem. Both genders are capable of clear communication and solving problems without violence.  Our brains work the same, we are taught how to act and react by parents and society. Abuse is not “understandable” because your current abuser was abused as a child. Unless you are a small child, you have the capacity to change your behavior.

Culture or Religion.  More excuses for abuse come from cultural or religious traditions than anywhere else.  Does your abuser insist that their god approves of beating your self-esteem down to the lowest lows possible? Does this god also say that you are not as worthy as others? Is it traditional for the men in your family to be control of finances and rules?  Are women supposed to control children no matter what it takes?  Counterexamples are a great way to fight back against these attitudes. Do you have an aunt or cousin that supports her family while her husband cares for the children or has a lower paying job? What resources in your religion show women are equal to men?  Fight back with examples of why exactly this attitude against you doesn’t work in every situation and therefore cannot be true.

Passive Aggressive.  Do you know someone who acts like everything is okay ALL the time? Do they refuse to argue with you or anyone and then retaliate in sneaky ways?  Do they pout, ignore your opinion, act stubborn, or purposely procrastinate? They may hide important things, conveniently “forget” meetings or dates, and talk about you behind your back. They hide hostility with smiles and a refusal to communicate. Passive people don’t deal with problems, because they don’t know how or are too scared. This is one of the hardest signs to see because it is often not noticeable until you spend a lot of time with someone.  It can be hard to leave someone who is passive if they are otherwise kind.  Counseling may be the best route. Passive people must learn to communicate their emotions instead of hiding them.  Communication is a must  for any relationship.

My Fault. Self blame is an easy way to deal with abuse. It turns you from victim to criminal. If all your life you have been abused and put down, it is easy to believe negative remarks from others.  Victims of abuse have been taught to feel shame and guilt. They are told that everything is their fault and they believe it. Do you berate yourself for not keeping your partner happy? Did you forget to clean the house, buy the wrong kind of beer or spend money on yourself instead of them? You deserve to be treated well. It is not your job to make people happy. Happiness is an internal emotion. Just like anger, that means we decide whether or not to be happy. We each have the capacity to be happy even in the worst conditions. It is our individual decision.  Karma is not an excuse to abuse.

You need to take control of your surroundings.

An abuser will be demanding and cruel. They will use guilt, shame and intimidation to control you. They control your schedule, tell you how to dress, take away your independence, tell you who to be friends with, keep you away from family, control your finances, and make you feel stupid. If you have to deal with people like this at work or school than report them to a supervisor or authority. One reason emotional violence continues to be brushed aside as not important is that it never is reported. We worry about coming across as a tattle-tale, overly sensitive, a kill-joy or that nobody will take us seriously. If you are in a relationship with someone like this then you can leave. If you do not want to leave find a counselor. People who hurt you will not stop unless you decide to stop them.  Communicate your feelings, wants, and needs. People are not mind readers. Don’t be a victim.  Stand up for yourself and others. Speak up.

Leaving is usually the best choice.  However if you decide to stay with your abuser they must seek counseling services. Promises of change are not enough. Often these promises are broken with the abuse continuing or the abused being killed. For resources call the national Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3284.

What has been your experience with emotional abuse and what have you done to stop it?

… Leave a comment below