Category Archives: sexual assault

Guest Post: How to Conquer Life with These Five Self-Defense Lessons by Kelly Wilson


My friend and colleague, Kelly Wilson, shares how the current political climate has prompted her to build her self-defense skills.


Building my self-defense skills was not a priority to me until Donald Trump was elected president. A survivor of childhood sexual abuse and related trauma, my pattern was to choose the “Flight” part of the Fight or Flight response.

I decided that from now on, I wanted to choose when to run, and when to stay and fight.

The combination of Trump normalizing rape culture even more and millions of women marching around the world lit a fire deep in my gut. I wanted to feel strong. I wanted to be in control. I wanted to know that I had options should I find myself in danger. Because now I would be in the Resistance.

I signed up for my first self defense class for women in late January. Even though it was an hour-long introduction to self defense, my life and outlook were fundamentally changed. Here are five important self defense lessons I learned that continue to help me conquer life.

 

Be a Problem

Women are taught to be quiet. To smile. To be nice. In self-defense, these skills don’t work well.  Being a “nice, quiet woman” means that you are an easy mark.

One of the first statements my self-defense instructor made was, “Be a problem.” Nobody wants to try and take down a woman who knows how to handle herself. In life, being a problem could simply mean showing confidence and asking for what you need from others. Or drawing boundaries so that you can take care of yourself. Saying that one magic word – “No” – as a complete sentence, and meaning it.

These new behaviors might be a problem for other people. You know what? Their problems are not your problems.

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Draw Attention to Yourself

Women especially are taught to “be polite.” Having good manners means to avoid calling attention to yourself or showing assertiveness or strength. We should be quiet and wait to be recognized.

Self-defense teaches us that in order to stay safe, we need to draw attention to ourselves. Make ourselves bigger. Make eye contact with everyone. Be loud. It seems counter-intuitive, but refusing to shrink keeps us safer.

 

Decide If You Will Fight

One of the advantages of taking self-defense is feeling more in control of yourself in uncertain surroundings. This includes whether or not to fight or to run. Some people take self-defense classes because they want to be able to incapacitate someone if attacked or in danger. Others take classes because they want to know how to get out of dangerous situations safely.

Both reasons are good. During my class, the instructor encouraged us to take some time and decide on our primary reasons for learning these skills. Do you want to be able to run? Great. Do you want to be able to fight? Great.

Safety is the ultimate goal.

 

Run Away If You Can

When I first began going to counseling, I discovered that I thought I was weak when choosing “Flight” instead of “Fight” when I was abused. I was ashamed of it, as if running was wrong or weak. It took me a long time to accept that running is not weak, it’s a way to protect myself.

It wasn’t until self-defense class that I fully realized this truth. Our instructor was a big, burly guy with meaty fists and a crew cut. He said, “Always run if you can. You don’t have to stay and fight, even if you decided that you wanted to. Run to people, because most people are good.”

Something about this big guy telling stories of how he ran from danger cemented it for me. Running is good. Running is strength.

 

Most People are Good

Building self-defense skills is like going over the emergency card before an airplane takes off. There’s a good chance that you won’t need to use the information at all. And just like – logically – most planes don’t crash, when it comes right down to it, most people are good.

Most people are not scoping us out and deciding if we’re easy marks. As we make eye contact and say hello to others as a protection, we begin to realize that most people do not mean us harm.

The irony is that building self-defense skills can help us see more humanity than we would if we were shrinking and afraid. That is where we can find our strength – in each other.


kelly-wilson-headshotKelly Wilson is an author and comedian who entertains and inspires with stories of humor, healing, and hope. She is the author of Live Cheap and Free, Don’t Punch People in the Junk, and Kelly Wilson’s The Art of Seduction: Nine Easy Ways to Get Sex From Your Mate. Her latest book, Caskets From Costco, has been chosen as a finalist in the 18th annual Foreword Reviews’ INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards, the 10th annual National Indie Excellence Book Awards, and the 2016 Readers’ Favorite International Book Award Contest. Kelly Wilson currently writes for a living and lives with her Magically Delicious husband, junk-punching children, dog, cat, and stereotypical minivan in Portland, Oregon. Read more about her at www.wilsonwrites.com and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

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Filed under Guest Post, Life, Mental Health, Politics, PTSD, Real Life, Self-Defense, sexual assault, Survivors, Writing

I Am Only Me; Feeling Triggered by You


I’ve struggled for the past week and change over whether to post this. I started writing it the day after elections, because I felt as if, like the girl in the image, that my mouth had been sewn shut. (I REALLY needed my therapy session last week.) I rarely engaged in any political discussions throughout the election process, and refused to “unfriend” or stop talking to anyone who supported a different candidate. But felt that if I spoke my mind the way others did, those others wouldn’t be so understanding of my opinions, which differed from their own. But this is MY blog, MY platform. If I don’t feel free to express myself HERE, then I might as well shut down the site, because I will have allowed others to silence me. And that, I cannot allow. I must be true to ME.

I did a lot of research and soul-searching and praying over the final candidates. I believed (and still do) that neither of them were/are the best our country has to offer for its highest office. But I weighed my beliefs and convictions against their platforms, connections and histories, and made my decision. And I stand by it, though it may cause conflict. Even now, as I type this, my heart pounds, my hands shake and anxiety fills me, as I agonize over the effects this post will have. About half of my “friends” and connections are liberal; I’m conservative. Not ultra-conservative (after all, I believe that prostitution should be legalized and voted for medical marijuana in my state…pretty sure that puts me more toward center field), but moderately so. I’m tolerant of views not my own, even if I don’t agree or understand them, and try to be open-minded. I hope you’ve gotten to know me well enough to lend me the same courtesy.

_________________________________________

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I am only me:

Jewish

Christian

white

female

woman

a survivor of child sex abuse

a writer

a poet

an editor

a traveler

conservative

lower middle-class

highly educated (multiple college degrees)

living with anxiety

and depression

and ocd.

 

I am only me:

a descendant of legal immigrants and indentured servants

a natural-born American citizen

prejudiced against illegals (why not come here LEGALLY? would YOU be happy if I snuck into YOUR country like a thief in the night and then tried to claim the same rights that YOU – a LEGAL citizen – enjoy?)

prejudiced against immigrants who refuse to assimilate and learn English – the official language of the U.S.A. (yes, keep your culture and language, but have some respect for your host country)

a mother

a single mother

of a son with ADHD, and ASD, and ODD

an American who believes in:

a strong and well-funded military

freedom of speech

freedom of the press

right to bear arms

innocent until proven guilty

protecting our borders against illegal immigration

a person who tries to make the best of things

a person who votes her conscience

rather than what the mainstream media tell her to vote

heterosexual, after choosing not to be homosexual or bisexual

open-minded

a loyal friend

tolerant, accepting of views not my own and people who do not look/dress/live like me

 

I am not:

mixed race

an illegal

Muslim

LGBTQ

black

liberal

poverty-stricken

a descendant of slaves.

I am not:

an advocate of abortion

a woman who has had an abortion (though one of my doctors advised that I should)

a skilled foreign worker (isn’t that what the EU is all about? why can’t we have the same restrictions here?)

hateful or a hater

racist

intolerant (unless you refuse to assimilate and learn English if you’re an immigrant to America – yes, keep your culture and language, but have some respect for your host country)

a degrader or a deplorable

a violent protestor

a fair-weather friend

xenophobic

homophobic

judgmental (unless you refuse to assimilate and learn English if you’re an immigrant to America – yes, keep your culture and language, but have some respect for your host country)

oppressive

offended by opinions, beliefs different from my own

 

I am only me:

am I of no value

because my opinions and beliefs

are different from yours?

I am only me:

afraid of speaking my truths

for fear of retribution

or losing networks and connections

 

I am only me

triggered

and oppressed

by your vitriol.

 

Where is my platform to speak my truths?
Where is the audience to hear my voice?

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Filed under Anxiety, Depression, Emotion, Life, Mental Health, Musings, Poetry, Politics, Real Life, sexual assault, Survivors

Guest Post: It’s Time for me to Rejoin the Parade by C. Streetlights


Photo source: Unsplash.com/Maria Victoria Heredia Reyes

Photo source: Unsplash.com/Maria Victoria Heredia Reyes

There is a lot of myself that I keep locked away that I usually say is part of my Old Life. It’s not because these things are embarrassing or bad, but my Old Life is filled with all the parts of me that came before I was sexually assaulted and that life was destroyed. It’s the life that was taken away from me and I was forced to redefine.

Sometimes I happen across evidence from my Old Life that I forgot existed. I realize that perhaps I didn’t box up everything as carefully as I thought I did. Like forgotten Christmas ornaments that roll behind the couch, I will find proof of the person I once was – covered in dust and no longer shining.

My 5-year-old daughter asked me this week if we could go to Disneyland and I told her that we could. In fact, I had already started saving up for our trip during Spring Break. I loved watching her excitement at hearing the news and I suddenly felt the stirrings of an old familiar joy that I had buried when it came to Disneyland.

In my Old Life, I made sure our family had annual passes even though we didn’t live in Southern California because we went there at least three times a year. I had an enormous laminated and illustrated map of the theme park for my classroom and my honors English students read Walt Disney’s official biography.

Anyone who knew me in my Old Life (because I cut off ties with most people from my Old Life) would tell you that I loved Disneyland and Walt Disney. That to me, it wasn’t about what Disney, Inc. does currently, it was all about the park and Walt Disney the man. I could walk down Main Street in my Old Life and tell people the story of the names painted on the storefront windows, help people find hidden Mickeys, and why the train is named what it is. My son could find his way around Disneyland from the time he was about 6-years-old, and I cried during the parades.

But really, it was what the park represented to me and who Walt Disney was. I loved and admired the man’s spirit and drive. It didn’t matter how many times Disney faced financial ruin or economic despair, he kept moving forward and I respected that. According to him, the only time he ever contemplated giving up was when Oswald the Rabbit was stolen from him and he had to head home on the train and face uncertainty. Fate intervened in the form of a little mouse scurrying around on the floor and as Walt Disney would say, “I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing – that it was all started with a mouse.”

paradeWhen I used Walt Disney as an example with my students, I stressed how success didn’t come easy to him. He was a failure in school and bankers refused to fund him for business loans. But he had heart and resiliency. And he worked hard to achieve his own success.

I believed in resiliency and heart in my Old Life until sexual assault taught me that the hard workers don’t deserve success or their dreams coming true. I shoved it all in the attic along with everything else I identified with in my Old Life and began to build a New Life, one that definitely didn’t involve any risk taking that could yield neither success nor failure. My New Life would be beige.

And yet, after telling my daughter that on a whim I began to save money for a Disneyland trip, I’ve been thinking more about how much I once loved it. And I remembered a story Walt Disney would tell his employees that I would also tell my students:

“Remember the boy who wanted to march in the circus parade?  When the show came to town, the bandmaster needed a trombonist, so the boy signed up.  He hadn’t marched a block before the fearful noises from his horn caused two old ladies to faint and a horse to run away.  The bandmaster demanded, ‘Why didn’t you tell me you couldn’t play the trombone?’ and the boy said, ‘How did I know? I never tired before!’

“… if I’m no longer young in age, I hope I stay young enough in spirit never to fear failure — young enough still to take a chance and march in the parade.”

I’ve started to reread some of my Walt Disney books again, hoping to revitalize this part of my Old Life again. I want to feel this kind of hope and invincibility again. I want to feel the excitement for life I once felt. All of that was taken from me, not just from the person who assaulted me from all the people around me who should have believed me and didn’t.

While some of my Old Life is gone, never to be a part of my life again, there are other parts that need to come home to me. It’s time for me to join the parade.

__________________________________________

cstreetlightsAfter writing and illustrating her first bestseller in second grade, “The Lovely Unicorn”, C. Streetlights took 20 years to decide if she wanted to continue writing. In the time known as growing up she became a teacher, a wife, and mother. Retired from teaching, C. Streetlights now lives with her family in the mountains along with their dog that eats Kleenex. Her memoir, Tea and Madness, won honorable mention for memoir in the Los Angeles Book Fair (2016) and is available for purchase on Amazon.

C. Streetlights is represented by Lisa Hagan Books and published by Shadow Teams NYC. For all press interviews and other inquiries, please contact Ms. Hagan directly.

You can connect with C. Streetlights on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Amazon Author Central, LinkedIn, and Goodreads.

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Filed under Disney, Family, Guest Post, Life, Mental Health, sexual assault, Survivors, Writing