One of my favorite thing that some people do after hearing of something bad happening (like your house getting burglarized or you being involved in what would probably be classified as a minor sexual assault) is tell you what they would do in that situation.
Immediately tell you what they would have done.
Without stopping to hug you or say they are sorry or ask how they can help, they tell a beat 'em up tie 'em up blow by blow account how they would make sure they would never be robbed or assaulted or taken advantage of.
Most say that they would fight. People love to think that they are born-fighters.
"I keep a gun near the bed, I'd have killed them"
"I'd have woken up, I'm a light sleeper"
"I have a dog, you should get a dog"
"I would have screamed and kicked and bit and punched"
"I would have twisted his dick until it bled"
"How did they get in? Do you leave your door open? I always lock and check my doors"
I could go on and on because I've heard it all. Responses to my stories, responses to other people's.
Hours of things that people think that they would do if they were wearing Victim's Shoes.
I do know that the fight or flight mechanism is very real and some people run and some people don't. I know that sometimes someone fights while another time that same someone flights. Flees. It's conditional. Situational. I also know that the precursor to fighting or flighting is freezing. That's important to know, but not often taught. I don't know if most people know that, I have only known that for a few years thanks to my super-intense-trauma-training-that-was-traumatizing-at-times.
Before we fight or before we flight, we freeze.
We freeze so our lower brains can kick in and assess the situation and make a decision for us. Rationalization goes out the window. Time and space don't matter. That's why we can't accurately recall details in a bad or traumatic situation, because the detail part of our brain shuts off.
We all do it. We all freeze. It's hardwired into our cores for the sole purpose of self-preservation.
In order to have survived this long as a species, our ancestors and our children have always and will always play dead before the second instinct kicks in.
Sometimes people freeze for seconds, sometimes for hours, sometimes even longer.
Some people go catatonic after something terrible happens, for a very long time.
Offenders are ready for the fight. They came to the table ready. Prepared. They'll freeze too, but only for a split second. When you hear about some sort of vigilante justice tale, that's how it happens. The victim, for whatever reason, had a quicker freeze time than the offender.
But victims are most often taken unaware.
That's why they are victimized.
I did try to fight the man who felt the need to trap me in a crowd and touch me. I did scream at him. Scream for help. No one came. There was no room to fight. No room to even lift a leg or an arm. It was a mob scene. Unlike anything I have ever experienced before. Unlike anything that most people will ever experience.
I did hear someone in my house that night. I trusted it was my family. It was the cats. The wind. The hundred year old house settling. Noise outside the window. Noise coming from the neighbors, we live in rowhomes, attached to another home on either side of ours. Lots of shared walls.
There are baseball bats all over the house. Big thick metal pipes recently taken down and replaced in the basement re-model.
We don't have a dog but the police officer told me that lots of dogs are tazered during burglaries. Or worse. We aren't getting a dog because dogs are a lot of work, and I don't have the time for more work.
We have guns in the house but none that would be of any service. I don't think that guns that could be of service have a place in a home with small children. Or any house, barring those of police officers and such. Then the gun should be locked up separate from the ammunition. I don't know stats, but I'm guessing there are many more accidents that acts of heroism when handguns are kept in bedside tables.
I'm quite sure the doors were locked. We never locked the doors until Jake was born and then we always locked them but what if it was unlocked by some off chance? So what.
We were sleeping. Unaware. Victimized.
I write this not as a complaint about people who tell me, tell any victim, what they would have done.
That's what we do as wary-minded people. We want to believe bad things would never happen to us and our upper brains kick in when we hear stories of bad things happening to good people. Our upper brains are logical and logistical and full of grand plans and schemes and alternatives. Our upper brains work fantastically when we are calm and quiet and safe and considering things. Our upper brains don't keep us alive, they keep us living as well as possible. There is a giant difference. It's very very healthy for us to come up with a plan in the event of our own emergencies. I don't mind hearing that plan. I tune it out a little, but I don't mind.
I write this for other people who have been victims, who have listened to the stories and the plans and the "I woulda/you shoulda's". Who may have been through something much worse than I experienced, and the guilt is eating them alive about what they "shoulda done" because they think that everyone else woulda. I know there are a lot of people out there going through that. I know because I work with them everyday. Am friends with them. Family.
It's hard not to become one of them myself.
It's not your fault.
You didn't ask for this or deserve this.
Also hard to hear: Karma will get these badguys.
It's a nice sentiment and it helps to think that bad people have bad things coming to them, but if karma is real, that means that the victim is reaping what they have karmically sown.
It's nice to think that the burglars will get nabbed one of these times or caught up in some sort of street battle and will die alone in a gutter, but what did I do to deserve having family heirlooms entrusted to me taken away? To lose my sense of safety in my own home? What did Jake do to have his favorite electronics stolen? What did I do so bad that my child needed to go punished?
It's nice to think that the man who assaulted me will end up in jail and get butt fucked on the daily by someone bigger and stronger than him, but what did I do to deserve to have my pants pushed up into my vagina at the mercy of a big fat sausage finger? To have to look at the grip marks on my thigh and a three inch bruise across my pubic bone for the two weeks it took to clear up? To lose my sense that there will always be one person in a crowd who will help? To never again see a man who looks anything like that man without every opening in my body clenching tightly?
Karma is a bitch, as they say.
Unless you work with victims and you sit though tedious trainings and read books that make your eyes bleed and your heart cry, it's really hard to know what to say to someone when they have been through something awful.
And even if you do sit and read, you know that there is no right thing, just that we need to be gentle with words and gentle with bodies and gentle with feelings.
The outpouring of support I received for these two happenings has been amazing. Even people who tell me that they would save the day if something bad happened to them or their family have shown ridiculous amounts of love and (I really wish I had another, bigger word for support right now). That's what helps. Knowing that even though something happened, there is so much goodness and love and light in the world that things will be okay. Even if they seem that they aren't. Hugs are nice this time around. Not getting hugs was nice when I couldn't handle the feeling of someone's arms around me.
And, can I tell you how much easier life is when you don't have to be extra very careful of extremely expensive and/or sentimental things? It's almost a relief not to have to worry about losing the diamond out of my grandma's ring. Or the thin gold band that was my other grandmother's wedding ring. Or my own jewelry. It's already gone. The worst that could happen did. Actually, didn't. I always figured that if someone would take it from me, it would happen more violently and out in the street. Or I'd be responsible for being irresponsible with my finger. Like doing major OCD type housework and breaking a prong or something. It's an incredibly freeing and liberating experience. As heartbroken as I am, I am heart-lightened (is that a word) and fearless of losing something valuable. SomeTHING valuable. It's only things. No one took a hair off anyone's head.
I think there is a lesson to be learned in everything. Whatever brought these things into my life, I've emerged better and stronger and smarter and wiser. And it didn't take long to find the lesson. Change a pattern. A paradigm. Move on. With the support of people who care about me. For that I am truly lucky.
Thank you for making me lucky.