Got the words plus change on I See You today — I hit 20% of the book completed, which is a nice mark. Got to land heavily on one of the things that drives me nuts about women dealing with stalkers, too — the damned claim that if you change your life to protect yourself, restricting your movements, changing the places where you go, making sure doors and windows are locked at all times, etc. — this somehow means the stalker has won.
If you’re dead, the stalker has won, and those who suggest he wins if you take steps to stay alive drive me utterly bugfuck.
Gabriele — yeah, that’s what I’m talking about. Nice work.
Well, guns aren’t allowed in Germany, but my father taught me some dirty fighting tricks. And he taught me not to be afraid to hurt someone who tries to hurt me.
The bastard who tried to rape me ended up a whimpering bundle on the ground. The ambulance guy took one glance at him, then looked at me and said only, “Wow.”
The shock came a few hours afterwards, but I got over it and now know that I can fight off a single guy. Though I’m still careful where to go at night – not anxious, afraid or so, but careful. And sometimes the 5-6 bucks for a Taxi are worth it.
Violence against the innocent sickens and infuriates me — but doesn’t incapacitate me. I wouldn’t have been worth much in the ER if it did.
Violence against those in the process of hurting the innocent doesn’t bother me a bit. I am, in fact, much in favor.
And my dad taught me the same thing about guns. Never take aim unless you intend to fire. Never fire unless you intend to kill. Never kill except to save your own life or the life of another human being — but if you must shoot, aim for major body mass, and keep shooting until the attacker goes down.
My dad taught me how to handle and shoot a gun when I was nine and living in the Alaskan tundra, 30 miles by river or plane from anything that might be vaguely considered civilization. He maintained my weapons education until I left home, by which time I’d learned how to reload ammunition, clean and fire handguns, rifles, and shotguns, and maintain a program of home gun safety.
I then spent some years being terribly anti-gun because I considered my then-husband too stupid and careless to be trusted with one. Turns out I was right. I trust me with one, though.
I’ve nearly maimed people I love who have surprised me. People who surprise me from behind (so far, only people I know and care about), have usually wound up in pain. I would presume at least that would happen to someone I didn’t know–hopefully something worse.
The seeds of my pacifism were planted by this conversation between my dad and a woman friend of ours:
Woman: … and I carry a gun with me in my glovebox for protection.
Dad: Uh, carrying a loaded gun around is dangerous.
Woman: Oh, it isn’t loaded. I just carry it, and if anyone tries to mug me, I’ll point it at them and scare them off.
Dad: That is the stupidest fucking thing I’ve ever heard. The minute you point a gun at someone, that tells them you’re ready to kill them, and you’d better be prepared to kill. You don’t shoot at their legs. You don’t carry it unloaded. You shoot to kill or you do not carry a deadly weapon.
She was highly indignant, but it got me thinking, and a few years later when I took a self-defense course that said the same thing (hit hard, hit fast, and hit to maim or kill) I realized that I was simply not cut out to do that. Violence sickens me. The last time I made someone bleed – by accident – I nearly passed out on the floor; every time I’ve killed an animal, and I live on a farm so there have been several times, I have nightmares for years about it. I have to work very hard to be of help in accidents; it’s not the blood, but if I can see their eyes and see the pain in them I start going light-headed.
I have never struck anyone to hurt them. I don’t think I could. And it seemed to me that it was better to know this and face up to it than to pretend otherwise.
So it’s less a moral stand – though I do believe that killing is, at best, a necessary evil – than a practical recognition of my personal limitations.
In its weird way this has kept me safe. Well, this and living a cushy civilized life, with a very large dose of luck. I’ve learned other methods of keeping safe – don’t act like a victim, always know where the bouncer is, keep to the light, know what signals you’re sending especially to men, never be too proud to walk away from a potential fight. *shrug* I’m lucky, mostly. But I’ve still done more and gotten in less trouble than most of the women I know.
My first experience with being physically assaulted by a stranger was also my last. I was fifteen* years old, and standing alone at a public bus stop in San Jose, Costa Rica. It was the middle of the day, plenty of sunlight, but there weren’t any people around. I had a bag in one hand, and was wearing the five-inch platform heels that were popular at the time. (1975) Very, very tight bell-bottom pants. I didn’t weigh more than ninety pounds, and was probably close to my final height of 5’6″ — with the heels on, that put me close to six feet tall.
Some Costa Rican guy came up behind me and grabbed me. I went nuts. It wasn’t a thinking thing, it wasn’t a training thing. He grabbed me, and I reacted. I slammed the back of my head into his face, stomped on his instep with one of those deadly shoes, and turned on him, making this weird growling noise, absolutely intent on killing him. He stared at me for just a second, then turned and fled. I started to run after him.
At which point common sense (and five-inch heels) overrode adrenaline. I backed off, he kept running, and I got on the bus a couple minutes later and rode home. This event scared the shit out of me.
I can only figure that my assailant’s surprise at my ferocious, insane response was what induced him to take off. I hadn’t had any training, and though I’m sure my head smashing into his nose had to hurt like hell, I hadn’t incapacitated him. Nothing about me at the age of fifteen would have intimidated any adult male.
But that was my instinctive response. Touch me and die. And I’ve worked hard to hone it in the subsequent thirty years. As an RN learning how to put people back together, I spent a fair amount of time figuring out how, in an life-threatening emergency, I could take one apart.
It isn’t something I ever want to do. But it isn’t something I’ll hesitate to do, either.
*ADDED LATER: I probably was 14 instead of 15. We lived in Costa Rica in 1975 — I don’t remember exactly when we moved to Guatemala, but by Feb. 4 of 1976 (the big earthquake there), we’d been there for several months. I didn’t turn fifteen until Oct. of 1975, so odds were, I was still fourteen when this happened. I have no idea how I was lucky enough for that not to end worse than it did.
Stalkers, muggers, etc., especially those who target women, depend on two things more than anything else:
1. that their intended victim is not apying attention to the world around them, thus allowing the baddie to get up close and personal before the victim knows what’s happening, and
2. most women in “civilized” society either cannot or will not defend themselves seriously. By seriously, I mean kicking in the groin HARD, gouging eyes with keys, things that cause serious pain and blood.
Simply paying attention and showing a willingness to cause harm to those who would harm me has bailed me out of several bad situations in my life.
I’m decidedly not a pacifist, in spite of the Quaker portion of my upbringing. I figure the innocent target has a greater right to live than the guilty attacker, and if someone attacks me, I’m the one who’s innocent. If someone is going to die in that scenario, I’m going to do my damnedest to make sure it isn’t me.
So I walking across parking lots and other, somewhat riskier locations, running through my mind ways to kill those who might attack me or my family. This is something I’ve done since I was about fifteen. It isn’t fun, but I figure the increased alertness and the constant focus on people and locations around me that might pose threats could save my life someday. Or someone else’s.
“If I protect myself, the stalker has won.”
If people would stop and think for about five minutes they would realize that the stalker is counting on exactly this attitude. Who makes a better victim? Someone who refuses to admit they are in danger, or someone who upgrades their locks and gets a Rottwelier?
Some good advice for stalking victims is at:
I think this is a question of degree. If I know I’m being stalked, then hell yes I am locking my door, changing my routine, not leaving the house without a burly male relative (of which I have several) with me – whatever I need to to until the bugger is caught. I like living. These are small freedoms to sacrifice, especially in the short term.
But I won’t start carrying a gun. I am a pacifist; I would rather die than kill someone else. My personal belief system, and not one I necessarily recommend to others, but I stick to it.
And I’m not quitting my job, turning my house into a vault, putting bars on the windows, never trusting anyone again, and never ever leaving until the day I die, because I’d rather be dead than live like that.
It’s a question of trade-offs. Everything is a trade-off. Make damned sure that you understand what’s being traded.
Congrats on hitting that 20%. The amount of work you can do without going insane never fails to leave me in awe.
Yeah, and if you don’t leave your purse lying open on a park bench in central park, then the purse snatchers have won…
And if you watch what you eat the cellulite has won…
And if you pray to God the devil has won…