October 25, 2015 DCU

THE CHALLENGE OF PREPARING FOR SEXUAL ASSAULT

Knowing what to do and how to do it in a sexual assault does not necessarily mean that you will be able to execute at the moment. We live in a developed world that we would like to believe is peaceful and where no harm will befall us.

The college campus environment supposes to represent a “safe haven”, a place of higher learning for the student and the parents. This could not be further from the truth.

Our ancestors, primal man lived in constant fear of danger from wild animals, disease and rival clans that wanted to eat them or kill them. They were exposed and largely defenseless against saber tooth tigers, snakes, lions, crocodiles and other man-eating creatures.

Our ancestors through evolutionary biology had to develop certain traits that helped them survive. Instincts that transformed them from prey to predator. Today, these same instincts are ingrained in our DNA and have been honed over millions of years as an early warning system of survival.

The Flight or Fight Response is your body’s way of warning you of danger. It is a description of the natural unstoppable psychological and physiological changes that take place in every human being when they have been startled or thrust into a crisis, a lethal force threat or when they are afraid.

So let’s talk about what parts of the brain are responsible for fear and recognizing danger. Your brain and body are hard-wired for fear and survival.

The emotion of fear is first generated by some stimulus, say a guy with a black hood over his face confronts you with a gun and throws you on the floor. In your head, you know that he is planning to rape you.

The “fear” alarm has been triggered and the part of the brain known as the Amygdala picks up this stimuli and processes these signals by stimulating autonomic responses such as increased heart rate, increased breathing, pupil dilation, auditory exclusion, tunnel vision and shutting off non-essential body functions.

In response to this involuntary reaction, you freeze, unable to move. You are paralyzed by fear and cannot take action to thwart the sexual assault. The part of the brain known as the pre-frontal cortex is responsible for our rational thought, but with all the hormones such as adrenaline, epinephrine and cortisol surging through our blood stream, we have lost our ability to think rationally. We have in affect; shut down like turning the light switch to the off position, and it was not voluntarily.

So you are overwhelmed by fear, and panic starts to set in making things worse. In my experience as a mercenary operator and kidnap & ransom response consultant, I have seen first hand how extreme fear of death can paralyze a man rendering him or her inert and unable to respond. And when we are in the middle of a situation where people are shooting at us with extreme prejudice and where our lives are literally on the line everyday, the only thing that bridges the gap between freezing and taking action is training.

And so we make it our business to train under extreme pressure to prepare for combat so we have an orienting response when danger strikes, but what about the ordinary person, say a college student or someone that is walking from work to their car parked in a garage, what if they are being sexually assaulted or raped?

They don’t have any training or orienting response, so how do they train and prepare for this? How do they over ride that fear circuitry response so they can fight back and survive the attack?

Most of us are not mercenaries and do not have combat training or experience, but there is a way you can learn and train to extinguish fear and replace it with an ability to respond faster and more appropriately to the situation. It is called “Visualization”.

Visualization is when you use mental imagery to picture yourself or events in your mind with a stated purpose; almost like daydreaming, but much more intense. In order to train with visualization, you must first state the purpose of your visualization, in our case, sexual assault.

A determination of what “picture” or “movie” you will be visualizing is the first decision you will make. The decision of what imagery to use is totally dependent on you, and states the purpose of your focus.

You will want to take note whether your visualization is in color or black and white, is it like a picture or a movie where everything is in constant motion, is it in slow motion or are things moving very fast? And most importantly, are you in the picture performing and doing, or is it like a movie where you are sitting back watching yourself perform and do from a distance? I suggest that you place yourself in the action itself so that you are the one executing the action and responding to the sexual assault.

Next, proceed by running a picture of yourself over and over again. Visualize everything, the sights, feelings, emotions, and your actions that you would take.

It might be your actions are to run away by employing a push and go technique or it may be deploying your tactical pen and using it as a defense tool to counter the attacker. Whatever your actions are, run that picture over and over again in your mind. Always making sure you picture yourself in the superior position to the attacker. Always so that you are the victor in the conflict.

Over time, repetition of this sexual assault scenario with absolute victory should bring you to a point where it feels so real, that your physiology such as your breathing, heart rate and movement will coordinate and function as if you really fought off the attacker.

By this point, you will also have undoubtedly created new strategies and tactics in addition to increased skills for combating and surviving sexual assault.

What is interesting to note is that professional athletes, elite military units and law enforcement agencies have been using visualization techniques for years with hugely successful results, which is why Defense Coach University employs and teaches visualization in all our programs as a powerful training technique.

We would like the student that is new to this highly specialized form of training to know that this newfound knowledge gained from employing visualization can and does cross over to enhance and augment your actual survival skills.

The incidence of sexual assault goes unchecked on college campuses around the nation. The idea that you can train and prepare for this horrendous crime should you ever be confronted with it, is very potent and represents an effective tool that you can add to your toolbox in sexual assault prevention.

For more information on sexual assault prevention or on our other college, corporate, organizational or individual programs, please contact defense coach university at www.defensecoachu.com or call us at: 1-800-820-0882.

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