A frequent question: What if he gets angry? As March (a/k/a Women’s Herstory Month) slips into April (Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month), it’s a good time to consider how our past assumptions impact our current situations. Our herstory is not sequestered in the past. It is alive and often seething, usually out of sight and out of mind.
Once upon a time, in a galaxy not that far away, women heard that, if assaulted, they should not resist. Yes, you read that correctly. They were told they’d be better off not fighting back. Because the assailant, always male, was certainly bigger and stronger and there was NO WAY a woman could fend off that bigger, stronger, masculine assailant. A woman who would try to fight back would only further enrage the assailant, and she’d end up getting hurt worse. Of course there were no studies, no data, but who could dispute the obvious?
Like many other “obvious” truths, this one stood neither the test of time nor data. Women who fight back are more likely to escape. Women who speak up are more likely to not get assaulted. And women who recognize the early behaviors that they are being targeted — and then enforce their boundaries — are far less likely to experience attempted assault. We know more about the social dynamics surrounding assault. But this is not news, we’ve known most of this for at least 40 years.
Yet, even today, I’m still often asked “what if he gets angry?”
Well, what if he DOES get angry? Most of the time anger is an attempt at intimidation, which often works. There’s the fear that a situation can spiral into physical violence, which does happen (though not as often as you’d think). You have some quick decisions to make, and it would be helpful if you gave the matter some thought in advance.
If you yield to their anger, are you safer?
Is it sustainable in the long term? Or you can chose a couple of specific verbal skills (broken record, distraction, direct confrontation) and script out some responses. And maybe it’s a good time to learn (or refresh) your physical skills, just in case.
Stay safe, live life.