Choosing Not to Be a Victim

Lynne over at Female and Armed had a terrific post today titled “A Woman’s Right to Choose“. I’ll let you read it, but she makes some very good points:

It is your right to tell a stranger to take a step back, to meet the eyes of those around you, to stand tall, be strong and alert, to protect yourself and your family, to walk with a presence.

Only you can choose to be a victim. Stand tall, do everything to reduce the odds that you will be selected.

I wholeheartedly agree with Lynne’s post, and decided to comment on it because I want to underline two realizations I had on my own journey toward being aware, safe, self-sufficient and armed:

First of all, I’m going out on a limb here to say that you don’t just have a right to reduce your chances of being a victim, you have a responsibility to do so. I know that sounds a little strong, but I feel very much that it is our responsibility to keep ourselves safe, for at least three reasons:

  1. We are affected, often profoundly, by acts of victimization. What happens to us, if we survive the encounter, will leave physical and emotional scars that linger. There are memories of the times I was victimized that I’ve never shared with a living soul, but which haunt my nightmares even now, two decades later. The trauma of being a victim doesn’t end when the attack ends – unless of course you’re dead.
  2. Our loved ones are affected, often profoundly, when we are victimized. In my past volunteer work as a rape crisis advocate, I’ve supported the family members of rape victims. I’ve seen the pain in their eyes, the rage and helplessness, the palpable sorrow. I’ve seen the secondhand traumatization. Hell, my own encounters with violence (yes, rape, but not only that) have had a ripple effect on my loved ones. You might be willing to risk suffering pain and trauma yourself, but are you sure you want to inflict it upon your spouse? Your parents? Siblings? Children? Are you really?
  3. Society suffers when we are victimized. In the whole history of the known universe, there has never been and will never be another of you. All the things you could accomplish, the lives you could enrich, the hearts you could touch? All of that could be gone in the blink of an inattentive eye. Your life has value, and the world would be poorer if you sacrificed it. Especially if you sacrificed it needlessly.

Which brings me to my second point.

Not making a choice is still a choice. Lynne talked quite eloquently about making the choice to be a victim, or to be safe, through our mindset and our behavior. The trouble is, too many people don’t ever actually even consider the question. They go through life in a blissful Code White state, comforted with the fact that the badness can’t touch them if they don’t actually consider it. They don’t make conscious choices to be a victim, but neither do they make conscious choices not to be. They take an “out of sight, out of mind” head-in-the-sand approach and pretend all is well.

The trouble is, choosing to do nothing is still a choice. Choosing to avoid the question entirely is still a choice. Not making a choice is still a choice. And if you’re not choosing not to be a victim, then you’re choosing to leave your safety at the whim of the predators you happen to cross paths with. Which, let me tell you, is a seriously bad idea. And by the time you discover for yourself that it’s a bad idea, it’ll be much, much too late.

So, I agree with Lynne that we have a right to choose not to be victimized. I’d go a bit further, though, and see we have a responsibility – to ourselves, our loved ones, our community, and the well-being of society at large – to make that choice.

Choose awareness. Choose training. Choose avoidance and de-escalation, first, but choose in the end not to be a victim. Is there really any other choice you can make?

Comments

  1. AGirl says:

    Great post. Good points.

    I don’t necessarily agree that not making a choice is a choice. Yes, a great many people know the facts and choose not to take respsoiblity, but I would argue that most people just don’t know. I honestly believed I was doing everything to be safe. I was making a choice to be safe, but my information was flawed. I was not choosing to be a victim. There was more that I could have done, but the fact that I didn’t was based on ignorance not a choice and what happened was not just punishment for being naive.

    • Oh, absolutely, and I don’t mean to suggest that anyone but the criminal was to blame for what happened to you, or me, or anyone else who’s been a victim. But once we know there are other things we can and should be doing, it’s still too easy to slide back into apathy and do nothing. Hell, I’ve caught myself doing it, sometimes, because the fact is that training is HARD and complacency is easy.

      If we’ve never seen the dark side, we might not be expected to know any better. But once we know better we have an obligation to do better, I think.

      Does that make sense?

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