When it comes to defending yourself against an attack, you have a number of choices for what your end goal may be. I explore the broad buckets they fall into below. Your choice may change over time or with respect to different types of attacks and attackers. Whichever you choose, they are all equally valid. The important part is to be very certain of which it is, and to be able to back up that choice with your mental convictions and physical abilities.
You can accept what happens, whatever that may be. Some folks will say that it goes against everything that is part of “self defense,” but I believe it’s still an option. The important thing with picking acceptance is to arrive there intentionally and definitively. If you want to say that if you are attacked, then that day is it and you will place into the hands of some higher power whether you live or die…you can. You are allowed. It’s not my place, or anyone else’s, to judge you for it because while the results of that particular situation rely on somebody else, it can be your choice in advance to allow that to be the case. But I would caution you to make peace with all of the implications of that decision, which can include your death or worse, or the death or worse of those you love, whether directly as a result of the attack or as a result of what you suffer from the attack. If you are not completely secure in your faith, you don’t want to discover that in the middle of an attack. You don’t want to discover then that you aren’t okay with accepting whatever fate wants to deal you in that moment. Any of the choices we explore here should be revisited on a regular basis, but this one most especially because if you change your mind, you may be left with no ability to escalate your response.
You can fight to not lose, to simply survive. It’s the first step to deciding that you will not allow somebody else to decide at a particular time if you live or die, that you will not surrender to the unknown. Instead, you will put forth the effort to change the outcome to what you want: to live. Here, the necessary skills may be relatively simple because you just don’t want to die. Stopping the attack by escaping or by making the attacker to give up isn’t so important as surviving whatever they may try to do to you. This, too, is a valid decision. You don’t want to hurt anyone else unless there is no other option, so long as you live. Your most powerful weapon is your determination to make it through whatever happens. When you have that attitude embedded into your very being, you become difficult to defeat, most particularly when you have made that decision before the attack and when you have had the time to prepare the skills and tools that will enable you to ensure you will. Not. Lose.
You can fight to win, to walk or run away on your own two feet. Beyond mere survival, you want to end the attack while you remain physically able, unharmed as much as you can manage. It may involve hurting your attacker; it may involve persuading them to give up; it may involve forcing them to stop. But none of that is your specific goal, so long as you are able to escape. You define defending as winning by being injured as little as possible or perhaps not at all. You’ll need more than a particular mindset. You’ll also need greater skills and more effective tools than are generally required to not lose a fight. Instead of, for instance, learning how best to absorb a punch without getting knocked out, you might learn how to avoid or block that punch entirely. Making this choice often means more active preparation for the potential of an attack, more knowledge, more practice. It’s a more intensive commitment all around and it’s not for everyone. That’s okay. It’s also okay for it to be your choice. You are not required to settle for survival or fate if, indeed, those choices are “settling” for you.
You can fight to triumph, to punctuate the poor victim selection of your attacker with their utter defeat by their intended target. The fiercest choice, it can be as difficult as any of the others to choose. It’s not about wanting to punish an attacker, or wreak immediate vengeance on them, so much as wanting to make completely clear to them and anybody else that you will not allow their will to be imposed on you. Forcing the attacker to stop is the only acceptable intended outcome when you have decided that that you must triumph, although you’d accept their willingness to walk away if that comes first. As with every other choice, having that goal solidly in your head is key, but even more so than any of the others, you can only effectively arrive at this conclusion if you are willing to build the skills and carry the tools that make it possible. As part of that, you will need to come to terms not with your potential death so much as the potential that someone may die at your hands because you seek complete victory. While circumstances or your mercy may not require an attacker’s death, your determination to triumph may lead to that end, and that may be a difficult conclusion to seek, resulting in making another choice up front a better idea for you.
Which one will you choose today?
Write it down, then calendar an appointment with yourself for six months or so from now, and check in with yourself. Has your choice changed? Whether it has or not, what have you done to make your choice more effective?