Your voice is your most effective safety tool. Yet it’s the tool most folk, especially women and girls, are reluctant to use. “Do I have to say anything?” is a too-common question in class. The answer is no, you don’t HAVE to do or say anything you don’t want to, and there are some cases where saying nothing may be your best choice. That being said, there are reasons why using your voice is an essential tool.
- BREATHING. Show of hands, who thinks breathing isn’t that important? Yeah, that’s what I figured. If you are using your voice you are breathing. Breathing is critical to life, and critical to managing your reactions in challenging situations. Which brings me to the next reason . . .
- FREEZING. Inability to respond. Using your voice can break that freeze. The assailant is, in fact, often hoping you will freeze. Which brings us to . . .
- STARTLING the assailant. Assailants, like any predator, are looking for easier prey. Targets who will be afraid, unsure, easily intimidated. Using your voice, especially LOUDLY, by itself has a good chance of chasing off the assailant as that’s not what they expected. Which can . . .
- ATTRACT ATTENTION. Maybe any people around will look. Perhaps some will whip out their phones to capture video. If you’re super lucky, someone might try to intervene. Most assailants don’t want to risk attention. But maybe nobody is around . . . you may want to . . .
- INCREASE YOUR ADRENALINE. Adrenaline, at the right level, can increase your physical effectiveness should you need to actually fight your assailant. It can increase your speed and strength. It can make time feel like its going slooooowwww. (Note: too much adrenaline, on the other hand, can begin shutting down your responses and effectiveness.) And, finally, using your voice can . . .
- ENGAGE YOUR CORE. Which brings in more muscle groups, connects parts of your body to work together like a power drive train, and increases your physical effectiveness.
There is a world of difference between an intellectual knowledge of your voice’s importance, and actually using it. As in your ability to not only recognize but to state your needs, your preferences, and your boundaries. That’s why we practice using our voices in our self-defense classes.
Do you sometimes find yourself in situations (social, work, family) where you kinda go along because it’s just not a big deal? There’s nothing inherently wrong with that — a crucial life skill is navigating and prioritizing choices. But also recognize that we are often socialized to feel uncomfortable standing up for ourselves. If you default that that, do you find yourself constantly left unsatisfied? Do you feel more like a spectator rather than player in your own life?