It is an ugly thing to consider, but there are men who violently attack mothers. Through nothing more than natural physiology, women are disadvantaged in stature and muscularity to men. Mothers also have an added risk because of their need and responsibility to protect their children. Those without self defense training and tools are even more susceptible to attack from the types who would prey on that vulnerability.
In a self-defense situation, we revert to our instincts (and lowest level of proficiency acquired through training, but I’ll get to that in a minute). Some call the reaction to the stress of a life-threatening event the “fight or flight response.” However, there is a third option hardwired into people’s basic natures: fight, flight, or freeze. Without any training or preparation for how to respond under duress, complex decision making ability evaporates and the individual’s innate character will determine whether they haul butt as far as possible from the danger, whether they charge their attacker back in their own defense, or whether they become mentally paralyzed, without a clear idea of how to respond.
I have two different examples of unarmed, and untrained mothers who found themselves in mortal danger in front of their children and how they responded.
Disclaimer: The video linked in the first story is graphic and may not be suitable for younger audiences.
A young mother of two in New Jersey was watching television with her three year old daughter in the afternoon as her 18 month old son napped upstairs when a large black man kicked his way into her house and immediately began viciously beating the mother as she lay on the couch with her daughter crying beside her.
Throughout the video captured on the home nanny cam, the violent burglar can be seen walking in and out of the living room. Each time he returns, he resumes attacking the mother. The woman does nothing in her defense, not even after being kicked in the face and thrown down a set of stairs. Miraculously, she survived the beatings with only a concussion and needing several stitches in her mouth and the large intruder made off with some of her jewelry, including her wedding ring.
In her explanation of the events, the woman (who chose to remain anonymous for the interview) felt her best chance of surviving was to do nothing, for fear that if she started crying and screaming that it would upset her daughter and draw the attacker’s attention to her.
A Texan mother, attacked last week by a carjacker after purchasing groceries with her two young sons (two and five years old), had a different response.
In Dorothy Baker’s situation, a man who had hidden in the back seat of her unlocked vehicle climbed up behind the driver’s seat, placed a knife to the woman’s throat, and told her to follow his instructions if she didn’t want any harm to come to her sons. He told her to drive up to an ATM to withdraw money. Baker refused, and he responded with violence, cutting her across her chest. She struggled with him, grabbing the knife away, and he bit her hand. She intentionally drove into a telephone pole, in the hopes of sending her assailant through the windshield (as he was the only vehicle occupant without a seatbelt) and away from her children. She also hit him in the face and told him to get out of the car.
The man ended his attack, and fled from the minivan. To stop him from harming anyone else, Baker backed up her vehicle and struck him with it. She explained her actions in the encounter saying that all she could think of was that she had to do something get the man away from her children so that he wouldn’t harm them.
Both mothers had the goal of protecting their children, and each responded according to their own natural instincts. In this case, the New Jersey mom froze, and the Texan mom fought. After the incident, the family in the invaded New Jersey home had a security system installed. However, getting self defense training and [home or concealed] carry can also be significant weapons in one’s self defense arsenal, and could have helped in the case of home invasion in NJ as well as the carjacking in TX.
Having self defense tools, such as firearms, knives, tasers, or pepper spray, is a start, but training to use them proficiently is equally important. In the kind of situation where one’s life, and the safety of their children, is on the line, people will fall back to their lowest level of proficiency and their instinct. It is certainly possible to survive self defense situations without training – people, like the mothers in these stories, do it everyday – but one’s odds of survival are greatly improved when they have tools for that end, and know how to use them.
Being able to defend one’s self is important, but what would you do to protect your kids?