Restoring Physical Safety for Survivors (Part 1 of 3)

In my last week’s blog For Survivors, it All starts from Never Feeling Safe… Here is how, I talked about “never feeling safe” and how this is at the core of our trauma symptoms. I talked about never feeling safe physically, emotionally and sexually.

So today, we will tackle the first one – Physical Safety.

In my teen years, I used to take public transport to get to the college. My college was about 20minutes walk from the busiest bus stop in the city. There is where men tried to grope me, sing songs or simply tried to touch me in places that weren’t meant for them. I remember that I was having a period and I wasn’t really “alert” walking through the stop. A man tried to touch my vaginal area but obviously, he couldn’t get to it because there was a layer of “pad” between his touch and my bits. I remember feeling accomplished for some reason. He didn’t get what he wanted.

To save me from these men, I started imagining the path from the bus stop to the college as a battleground. I would get off the bus and take my battle stance; I would try and keep 180 degrees view so that I can protect myself before someone tried to do something.

I have slapped guys, I have slapped at their hands before they could touch me. Over the period of time, I became so aggressive that the groping almost disappeared. It was like a game and I was hunting for someone to come and take a chance so that I could hit them and feel all powerful.

This became my normal stance when I left my home each day to go to college or university or any other place.

Technically speaking, I probably couldn’t have protected myself if a strong man came along and persisted but that didn’t really matter to me. I knew that no matter what, I was going to cause some serious damage if someone tried to hurt me.

And this is where the crux of the physical safety lies. I knew that I was going to induce my “fight” safety mechanism and that brought “safety” for me in strange ways.

I think I wouldn’t have been able to get out of my house if I kept thinking that I protect myself, or I would freeze when someone tried to do something with me.

The truth is that in a physical fight, the person with more strength is likely to win but doesn’t always win. Events around the world have shown adrenalin makes us express our power in ways that we don’t quite understand. Do you know this story of a 19-year-old girl (of average built, height and weight) who lifted a burning GMC pickup truck to save her father?

Our world is full of these stories where ordinary people commit acts of extreme physical strength when in a life and death situation. In an article published by BBC, the writer explores how ordinary people can do show such strengths.

So the real question is: how can we be confident that we will trigger this “aggressive battle mode”?

The answer lies in physical training. The physical training will create this “confidence” in you where you know that you can “fight” no matter what came your way.

There are many forms of martial arts that also teach street defence. Muay Thai is one of these techniques. or you could simply hit the gym and discover this “fighter” in you.

You will realise that it’s not the physical strength but the “faith” in this physical strength that will create physical safety for you. I invite you to try