Trauma-aware self-defence instruction. 6

Ok. Either the book is a bestseller by now, or Anna is off to join the Foreign Legion, never to be seen again. Or at VioDy. You were warned.

Incidentally, did you know that you don’t need a Kindle to read Kindle books? All you need to do is upload the Kindle app to your device, and away you go. And lots of old classics are free. But why am I telling you this? You won’t want to read anything but this, because this is so wonderful.

 

4.      ‘If I become an innocent victim of violence my community (family, friends, church, co-workers, whatever) will unquestionably be there to support me.’

It is often the case that people share common beliefs with their community. We pick up our belief systems as we grow up, and many of us never question them, let alone abandon them. Even those who reshape their worldviews tend to surround themselves with people who share them. The more important a certain belief is to a person, the less likely that person is to willingly befriend those who radically disagree with it. What this boils down to is that people with certain beliefs often belong to communities who share those beliefs. Beliefs about violence are no exception.

This can have a significant impact on the way a community treats a survivor. If the community as a whole subscribes to any or all of the three beliefs we’ve just described, an act of violence against one of its members will put those beliefs at risk. Each member of the community will be faced with the same choice as the survivor: paradigm shift or paradigm paralysis.

This can be of particular import when an entire community is living in a safety bubble. Instead of admitting that their safety was illusory, they will seek to find ‘what the victim did wrong’ that caused them to be attacked. This is not a search aimed at finding the truth. It is not designed to find out how to decrease personal risks, or how to help the survivor avoid a repetition of the incident. Its sole goal is to preserve the ‘safety bubble.’ Once the “Wrong Thing” is discovered, or made up, these people can rest soundly, happy in the illusion that their little world is as safe as ever. If no “Wrong Thing” can be found, the community may completely turn its back on survivors, or demand that the incident and its effects are completely ignored. Anything is preferable to the disruption that a paradigm shift would cause.

As a result, it is not unheard of for victims to turn to their community, and find it entirely unsupportive. For those victims who expected support, this failure causes yet another paradigm shift. Their faith in their community is shattered, filling them with a sense of abandonment and betrayal. It leaves them more alone than they’ve ever been, at a time when they most need support.

Instructors can help by reminding their students that people’s reactions to violence are far more influenced by how the events affect their belief system than by what actually happened. If the event doesn’t fit their beliefs, they will often subconsciously prefer to warp facts in their mind rather than have their beliefs shaken. Their unhelpful reactions are a reflection of their inner turmoil, rather than a statement on the events, or the survivor’s value as a person. Although this awareness may cause disappointment, it will prevent students from internalising people’s negative reactions.

 

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