In the early 90’s Criminologist Christopher Berry Dee interviewed multiple serial rapists and killers. To this day it is one of the most extensive thesis in the mind of a human predator. An interesting thing that came about from this study was not about the ones that they killed or raped, but the ones they didn’t. The ones that when they were on the prowl to hunt they chose to ignore. In fact studies have show that women carrying themselves in a confident and aware manner can put off an attack by 80%. The majority of those interviewed mentioned that if there was any sort of aggression in those that they hunted then they would immediately abort, going so far as to say if a woman’s voice was even rough they would determine her not easy enough to attack. In Ripley County, Indiana a group of rapists and date rapists in prison were interviewed and almost all of them said they were looking for an easy target; someone they could tell would not put up a fight. This is amazing for those of us with chronic bitch face, statistically we have half this battle. Ironically this makes sense that predators would be the same human wise as in nature, looking for someone who looks weak and will not fight back; except with animals its for survival and food, with the human predator it is for control and humiliation to the victim.
In 2019 there were 298,190 reported females missing in the United States. Of that number 235k of them were between the ages of 11 and 21. Please note that this is reported cases. Do you know how easy it is to lose a teen girl in the foster care system? They only have to skip a state to be in the wind. In 2018 652,676 women were raped or sexually assaulted in the US. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports in 2008 there was a reported 29.3 rapes per 100,000 inhabitants per area. This is only reported. 81% of rapes are done by someone the woman knows, and almost all are ambush style, meaning they have to take advantage of a momentary weakness in order to succeed whether that is a blow from behind or a date rape drug. Here’s another thing, a recent study of rape survivors who visited the Emergency Clinic for Rape Victims in Stockholm reported that a majority of victims said that they did not fight back at all; during the assault they experienced a type of temporary paralysis called toxic immobility. Not something that is talked about in everyday women’s self defense classes or really many martial arts. Think, if that is reported rapes and that many said they felt that temporary paralysis, how many are not reporting and why?
Sadly statistics have become something that does not shock us anymore and these are shocking stats. These aren’t just 30, 40 or even 50%, these stats are the majority. 80% that if your demeanor is no nonsense you will not be chosen for an attack, and 70% reported toxic immobility during said attack. And then when you really understand the concept that these numbers are just those reported, those that are missing, the stats become even more staggering. I recently read an article of a woman in Texas who spends all day scouring reports of violent crimes against women in the United States; the numbers are astronomical.
The need for women to take steps towards their self protection is there, we can read it on social media every morning when we wake up. It seems that for women to take the stride to do so though gets shoved under that massive pile of other things to where it is not a priority. We develop a mentality of either, it won’t happen to me, or I will get to it later. I know a martial arts gym owner who told me that when he has mothers coming in wanting private lessons for their kids, he asks her to join the class. It doesn’t cost the mom any more than what she was going to pay and in turn she gets involved as well. I love that idea, a small simple solution. She was going to be there anyway and with that small concept she can start taking steps that could someday save her life.
Jorden Peterson, a world renowned psychologist and author of, “12 Rules to Live By,” said in his book that the very first thing he wants to emphasize if you want to change your life for the better is to sit up straight. Why? Why something so simple? The answer is how do you eat an elephant? This one bite at a time thing is actually more profound than we can fathom. One small thing can change the course of your life or someone else’s life. One small change can trigger exponential growth, but in the reverse someone taking one bite out of person figuratively can start the downward spiral of abuse. It is all cyclical, death by a thousand cuts or growth by sitting up straight. Dr. Peterson goes on in his first chapter talking about how just the mere feeling of a straighter spine can trigger things in ones brain that give way to confidence causing you to make more sure decisions, which lead to more success, and so on forth. In the reverse this is how women who have grown up in loving homes can end up in abusive relationships the abuser taking small bites out of her self esteem causing the spiral downward; but in turn she can change her course by small step bites out of her own elephant.
If a girl grows up hearing only polite and nice conversation by the men in her life towards herself and her mother, her standard is set pretty high for when she starts dating. The first crude or rude sentence a man says to her will put her off immediately. She has created a wide moat around herself for healthy protection and anyone less will not be welcome in her castle. Sadly a majority of women do not grow up that way and the standards are set low. Or they do grow up that way and the world takes small bites of her elephant and she slowly sinks lower in her expectations. I was raised in a good home and have loving parents, however the world led me to believe that in eighth grade it would be taboo for me to tell a teacher that I did not appreciate him massaging my shoulders during tests or lectures. This was something several of us girls would sit around and talk about after class, how uncomfortable we were. We would try and make light of it as if it were a game to try and alleviate the situation. It never was even a thought to tell anybody that this man touching us was practically unbearable. This later leads to a mentality in college that if a boy bought me a beer then I would have to sit and talk with him while I drank said beer. It never occurred to me that I could simply get up and leave if the conversation was uncomfortable or rude. I was 24 before I had this epiphany. I was done listening to the sexist jokes and crude language, I stood up with the bought beer, and left. It was still uncomfortable, but it was a bite upward. This grows into the realization that if I do not want a mans hand on my shoulder, I do not have to have it there. A person invading my space is the one who is crazy for thinking they have the right to be there, not me. And trust me, the first time you do the brush off they will make you feel like you are the one who is nuts. These may seem like simple things but they signify so much. They take their bites and you circle the drain farther and farther or you take your bites back onwards and upwards.
Recently I was walking into the Joplin mall with my two sons. A little off to the side I saw two teenage girls, maybe 17, standing near the curb closest to the parking lot. They were talking to what appeared to be a man they did not know. Their body language was clearly uncomfortable, I have no idea how the conversation started, but they were humoring a stranger probably their dad’s age for some reason or another. My mom alert was on high so I waited by the door watching while they finished whatever conversation was going on and they walked away from him towards the mall entrance discussing their awkward encounter familiar to conversations had in eight grade about a certain teacher. It occurred to me that this is how easy it is for a young girl or any woman to be taken, trafficked, and/or raped. A man who looks like a normal guy walks up to a young teen girl at a mall and asks for help. She may have her instinctual red flags going off in her head, but the ingrained bites of politeness overtake and she stays not wanting to be rude, becoming a predators easy prey. It’s that effortless. It’s amazing to me that we teach our children that adults do not ask kids for help in order to teach them stranger danger, but as women we do not tell ourselves the same thing. I would rather my daughter and women in my life give a firm or hell, even rude, “I cannot help you,” before the stranger even gets within 15 feet, than her be shoved into a van never to be seen again.
I have six daughters, three sisters, and countless precious women in my life. I want them to know how to eat an elephant. I want to emphasize that they can pull themselves out of whatever mire they find themselves in by inches, that they will add up. Recently I had a jiu jitsu instructor explain how a match is won that exact way, snatching those inches. I want them to recognize when someone takes a bite out of them and understand how to get it back. Be the mile long inchworm in their life to become a constantly better, stronger version of themselves. This is the first step in women’s self defense; a standard set, a wide moat built around the castle. I want them to take whatever small nibble daily towards their own self protection whether it is wandering into a local martial arts gym, watching a YouTube video on how to escape from the trunk of a car, or buying a bulletproof clipboard to stick in their backpack. All black belts in martial arts started as white belts. Anything, any bite that causes the start of constant upward growth to where when they are an old woman they can look back and realize they ate a whole damn herd.
Today I went in for a mammogram. During the procedure I was getting side glances from the tech who kept staring at the multitude of bruises and sores along my arms and upper torso. In order to head her off from giving me a domestic violence pamphlet I quickly told her about my recent weekend. ECQC an intense course that I had read about on Warrior Poets Society.
A fellow female marital artist told me that she couldn’t live with herself if she didn’t do what she could to contribute to changing the outcomes of attacks like those of Jessica Chambers. She wanted to put her money, time, and energy where her mouth was and like her, that’s what I spent the last three days doing; going into the uncomfortable gaining more experience and knowledge to continually share with the women in my life.
Extreme Close Quarters Concepts is a 24 hour course run by, well for lack of better terms, basic bad ass Craig Douglas. Craig is a retired law enforcement officer who spent most of his 21 year career in narcotics and SWAT. He travels the globe teaching classes to civilians, federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, and three branches of the U.S. military. He is the founder of Shivworks which is a group of people devoted to, “training and product development in the emerging field of interdisciplinary problem-solving for self defense.”
This course is intense and according to the majority of the men taking the class with me that are law enforcement and military, the closest and best you are going to get to real life fighting and simulations in close quarters. It was practical and hard and uncomfortable and I loved it.
When I first started my elephant eating journey almost 20 years ago, one of the bigger mental and physical accomplishments at that time was a 17 mile hike alone. It wasn’t something I necessarily wanted to do, but the weekend before I was rock climbing and had several grand-daddy long legs crawl across my hand while a hold had broken off; it was a miserable climb. I freaked out and I cried and cussed and when I reached the top was super pissed at how I handled the situation so I basically set myself up for something I felt I could mentally redeem from.
I chose to hike the Butterfield Trail at Devils Den in August with no bug spray (that was not on purpose, just a terrible mistake of forgetfulness.) I packed a couple cans of spaghettios, a 2 person tent, and the bladder from my camel back. It was humid, sticky, 97 degrees, and I was ill equipped with no cell service and a plan to hike in, camp, and hike back out the next day. The horseflies were equally as bad as the mosquitos, the only reprieve from them was keeping myself mostly submerged in the river or staying in the sauna of a tent. It was scary that night and with basically no sleep, I woke up the next morning and started my trek back towards my car. About five miles from the end I rolled my right ankle in my cheap tennis shoes and ended up crying on the trail. I started to panic because I was in pain and had no cell service; though I had signed in at the station before I started, I was once again sobbing and cussing and shouting alone on this trail. I literally had no choice other than get my ass up and keep going. I rolled the joint 4 more times as I limped back to the car. It was flat out the most miserable time I could think of, but the kicker of this whole story was how I felt when I finally sat in my drivers seat. I was gross, sticky, my ankle was the size of a grapefruit, hungry, likely dehydrated, and quite possibly the most elated I had ever been. It was a high I had not experienced until that point. I had done it and though I was a hot mess and pretty much couldn’t walk, I felt I could accomplish literally anything in that moment. These are moments that bleed over into other big things building and inching upward. If I can do this on my own under those circumstances, what else could I accomplish? Skys the limit.
Which leads me into ECQC…… I am a big believer in teach only what you know and you had better know it well. I want the best to pass on to the women in my life and Craig did not disappoint. Friday evening we arrived at 6pm to a field with an Army Tent just outside of Kansas City, MO. There was around 20 guys and two females including me. Craig gave the rundown of the weekend and we immediately got to it with awareness techniques, deselection, and deescalation tactics (in later articles I will be going over these intensely as I feel especially for women these are absolute key,) then came the big guns literally and figuratively; when the posturing and talking doesn’t work. Physically we started with Greco-Roman wrestling/grappling, learning how to better stay on our feet, and the goat drill, (my forehead is still bruised…) The next day was a morning of close concept gun fire followed by wrist grab slips and SIM gun rolls. This was ALL uncomfortable, not necessarily because I didn’t know if I could hold my own, I honestly didn’t know if I could; every man there was taller than and had several pounds on me. It was uncomfortable because it was unusual for a woman to be there and it was not expected. It was hard to find a partner that first night (it could not be my husband because what would be the point?) and I felt like the last picked kid in elementary kickball. I am super grateful that I finally got partnered with a man named Mike who threw me on the ground and the ice was broke. Craig later said, “The most insidious thing I can do for women is to take it easy on them,” give them self defense-lite and send them out into the world thinking they have it all under control. He talked about women needing to be able to carry themselves as, “assertive without being a bit*h.” Too far on the bit*hy spectrum and you become something to a predator that needs to be taken down a peg or two. Fine lines we women walk.
After lunch on Saturday we did what was the first of three evolutions or affectionately called, “Thunderdome.” Craig paired us up with another person and you were pressure tested on your physical and mental reactions while carrying a concealed SIM gun. Out of the 20 people there I would say ¾ had grappling/jiu jitsu experience, several were military/veterans from all backgrounds, law enforcement, GI Joe, and Captain America. Side note, but an imperative one, ALL were there on their own dime, wanting to gain more knowledge and training to better themselves for their jobs and life. It was seriously an impressive group of individuals. I asked during a discussion at the end of our weekend how this course compared to the training received in the military and law enforcement and all of them said this was as close to real life encounters as you can get. Craigs concept was very little, but incredibly tested and solid content, with lots of reps.
I was unfamiliar with a SIM gun. I knew paint balls…… yeah, not the same thing. SIM rounds can and most likely break the skin, I have four on my arm to prove it. However, as a fellow patron of the class later said, “they should serve as a reminder to keep your skill levels proficient, in a real world we would be in a hospital.” I hear all the time from women that they do not need self defense on a physical level because they conceal carry. Well I am going to be Debbie Downer here and tell you that is an absolute farce. I watched in awe as several people well versed in gun culture and firearms safety either made bad shooting calls or very easily had their weapon taken only to be used on them. It was incredibly eye opening to see how common this was.
Major takeaways from this weekend……
Eating crow with a side of humble pie is always good. That means you are still learning. You were right Aaron, a 380 was not enough. There were several people there who were encouraging and chock full of gun knowledge that were kind enough to impart on me their ways. Will be the proud owner of a Glock 43 and a Fabriclip Holster in a couple of weeks. Stay tuned because I will be giving you proof I can pull those drills off soon!
This next one is one that was incredibly humbling to me considering I just spent the last six years in karate. I am not saying it was not useful, but the moves used from that were only the simple ones like a snap kick and an eye shot (always my go-to.) What ended up being used in ALL of the evolutions that could not be dissolved via deescalation was grappling and Jiu Jitsu. I have spent years shying away from that art only to be taught a couple of things in the last month reluctantly and when push came to literal shove, I not only used them, but was able to pull them off. I would say this was my biggest surprising takeaway.
And lastly, but the most important, if you think you have enough training, you don’t. I listened to an Army Ranger and a major city’s Police Officer of the Year (yes, I totally fa€ebook and google stalked) state that they were humbled by the scenarios and said the course was incredibly eye opening. Craig talked about Marie Kondoing your training repertoire, funnily enough I think Tammy and I were the only ones to get that statement…. Training scars that you must fix was a common statement tossed around, throwing out what won’t work no matter how much you might think it should. Realizing in real life scenarios it is an ugly scuffle that you won’t get out of with flowy moves. You must continue to train and continue to train under pressure. Craig said his philosophy was not so much giving us the answer but teaching us how to think in intense situations.
I cannot stress how much this weekend has changed my life and course for how I carry myself and view the world. Craig is confident, but not arrogant. He has an approachable no nonsense way to him and has managed to trim the fat on something that is so incredibly important in self defense to where you can learn it fast and learn it well. When chatting with him afterward I was so encouraged hearing him talk about women taking this course to take back and share with other women in a way he can’t relate. He was excited to share what is his business, that he makes his money and living, and pass down to those that attend his class to teach to others; no strings attached. Definitely a person to admire and follow.
It was also exciting to see those not back down or give up, they kept fighting, I saw people of all ages and physical shape keep going in the scuffle whether against an accidental body slam, SIM rounds, or a well placed chokehold. In the words of Margaret Atwood, “this above all, to refuse to be a victim.” I have to be comfortable in the uncomfortable, constantly go out and force myself to learn even when its awkward, to encourage my daughters and the precious women in my life to continually keep gaining more in their self protection boxes.
Also thanks Regina at Willowcreek Women’s Center for no judgement on the bruises.........
Author- Christun Erwin
"Thank you for your words. They make an impact and its important that, human to human, woman to woman, mother to mother... you know that you make a difference, even to those you never knew your words" -Krystal