Sooooooooo … is be­ing a vic­tim now a life­style? Has our na­ture turned us from be­ing self-re­liant and re­spon­si­ble for our own per­sonal safety and se­cu­rity to need­ing an army of like-minded wounded birds be­fore tak­ing ac­tion?


Re­cently, there’s been a ver­i­ta­ble del­uge of ac­cu­sa­tions and al­le­ga­tions con­cern­ing de­spi­ca­ble acts of sex­ism, hos­tile work en­vi­ron­ments and ex­ploita­tion at the hands of peo­ple who be­lieve they’re in a po­si­tion of power.

Here’s a truth: No one has power over you un­less you al­low it. Think about that for a minute. If you’re will­ing to stand up, you can stand down bul­lies. Ev­ery time. In one of the most egre­gious ex­am­ples of this hor­ri­ble be­hav­ior, a well­known movie mogul al­legedly pres­sured a ris­ing star to come into his room. On the au­dio­tape (which she recorded), he can be heard be­com­ing anx­ious and ner­vous be­cause she was get­ting vo­cal in her protests. He ba­si­cally said ( para­phras­ing here), “Quiet down, I’m some­body im­por­tant. Don’t make a scene!” And in that mo­ment ex­isted the op­por­tu­nity to seis­mi­cally shift the preda­tor to the prey.

Will you seize the op­por­tu­nity if some­thing sim­i­lar hap­pens to you? What about the bully boss who threat­ens and glow­ers and stomps around, putting em­ploy­ees in fear? He (or she) be­lieves he (or she) has power over you: the power to pro­mote, to as­sign pleas­ant and un­pleas­ant tasks, to ba­si­cally con­trol the qual­ity of your life. But does that per­son? Re­ally? What if you just walk?

Don’t write and tell us you re­ally need your job — we get it. We need work, as well. But we’d never let some­one lord that over us and make our lives a liv­ing hell. They. Just. Don’t. Get. To. Do. That.

THE THING IS, it all goes side­ways when you look for “jus­tice.” Jus­tice by some­one else in­ter­ven­ing, some­one else fight­ing the bat­tle for you. When you do that, you’ve given up con­trol and as­signed re­spon­si­bil­ity to some­one else or to an or­ga­ni­za­tion. Life is a con­stant strug­gle. You’ve got to adopt the men­tal­ity that says, “The he­li­copters aren’t com­ing.” In other words, yeah, you’re tired, shot to hell, and in need of re­sup­ply and trans­port. But the he­li­copters are not com­ing, so you’d best pull that ruck­sack on and get mov­ing if you want to sur­vive.

We al­ways ex­plain to stu­dents that it isn’t nec­es­sar­ily how to fight that’s the hard part. The hard part is ac­tu­ally fol­low­ing through and do­ing it — re­gard­less of the un­cer­tainty, the doubt or the fear. And that takes courage. The best ex­am­ples of courage oc­cur when peo­ple are alone. When they don’t have the sup­port of peo­ple nearby who are a de facto safety net. Be­cause guess what? Bul­lies and sex­ual preda­tors don’t op­er­ate in the light of day. They wait so they can prey on peo­ple when there’s lit­tle chance the vic­tims’ al­le­ga­tions will be cor­rob­o­rated.

The same is true when fight­ing back be­comes nec­es­sary. It’s not as if you’ll be at­tacked when the preda­tors be­lieve there’s a chance of fail­ure — to the con­trary, they’ll at­tack when con­di­tions are most ad­van­ta­geous for them and least ad­van­ta­geous for you. This makes the fight that much more dif­fi­cult, more daunt­ing and more chal­leng­ing.

WE DON’T MEAN to be in­sen­si­tive — far from it. We mean to em­power and to lead peo­ple to the un­der­stand­ing that if they adopt this stand-up men­tal­ity, they’ll be far bet­ter off. They’ll be­come in­domitable, and a happy byprod­uct of that is preda­tors will sense it and be far less likely to try any­thing.

If you train, you can’t have a vic­tim men­tal­ity. The first thing you have to ac­knowl­edge is that you’re train­ing be­cause you de­cided to take per­sonal con­trol of threat­en­ing sit­u­a­tions. You recognized the ba­sic ne­ces­sity for that. We’ve en­coun­tered many peo­ple in train­ing en­vi­ron­ments who still lug around their vic­tim sto­ries or their feel­ing of in­ad­e­quacy or self-doubt. One of the biggest plea­sures we get is to re­lieve them of those feel­ings and show them how easy it is to wrest con­trol from the types of peo­ple who’ve ter­ror­ized them.

When you see pic­tographs of an­cient tribes on cave walls, you’ll no­tice only two war­ring fac­tions of dif­fer­ent col­ors. There isn’t a third-color tribe in the mid­dle, ful­fill­ing the role of the United Na­tions. There are no pic­tographs of po­lice. Have we got­ten so far away from the truth that we hon­estly be­lieve our safety and se­cu­rity are some­one else’s re­spon­si­bil­ity? Do we be­lieve “That’s just not the way things should be!” suf­fices? Please don’t say you’re down with that.

Peo­ple fail to stand up in the mo­ment be­cause it’s hard. There’s no safe way to do dan­ger­ous things, and when­ever vi­o­lence is threat­ened, it may ac­tu­ally be used. So it’s not easy. We’re not sug­gest­ing it is. But what we know — and want you to know — is that you’re ca­pa­ble of do­ing it. #youtoo Kelly McCann’s Combatives for Street Sur­vival book and the com­pan­ion DVD set are avail­able on Ama­zon.com.

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