A simple solution for an option for dealing with this situation is:
MAKE-as rude as possible
In the scenario, the man approaches the woman while she is loading groceries into the trunk of her car and says,
“Hey, mind if I give you a hand with your bags?”
She replies: “No thanks, I’m fine.” In the first iteration, she says this politely. Her tone is asking him to leave and she extends the palm of her hand out as a physical and psychological barrier expressing that she does not want him to come any closer.
Following up his denied attempt the man pushes with more with persistence,
“Come on, it’s no problem, let me help you out.”
In the second iteration she emphasizes being firm with her response, puts both hands out as a barrier and says, “I said, no-thank-you, I’m-fine.” In this instance she pronounces the words more deliberately, as if the person does not understand English and she is irritated by his persistence.
An important point that Morrison made was that anybody pushing beyond this second attempt has an agenda. Street criminals and sexual predators use deception as a tool to get what they want. A sexual assault/rape-type scenario does not always start with a physical assault or an aggressive escalation. Many times it starts with a verbal engagement attempt. Tactics can include saying things to convince you of trusting them or by using “forced teaming,” which is when a person implies that he has something in common with his chosen victim, acting as if they have a shared predicament, which they do not.
In the third instance, guy pushes even further, gets into her personal space and grabs for her bags,
“I'm just gonna grab these and you can thank me later.”
Gavin DeBecker cites a similar example in the Gift of Fear, where a rapist who was attempting to coax his victim into letting him into her apartment and after initially resisting and said, “You know, there is such thing as being too proud.” Understand that this third attempt could happen in several ways, including a play on your ego such as the examples above or the man getting into your space and grabbing your belongings, insisting to help by force.
For this example there are two main scenarios with respect to proximity. He has either closed distance completely and encroached on her personal space, possibly grabbing her belongings to help out against her will or has not completely closed the distance into her personal space.
MAKE- as rude as possible
In our class example the man encroached into her physical space grabbing her belongings, so she then shoves him and backs up to create space, yelling, “I said, back the f**k up! I don’t need your help!”
Someone exhibiting this type of behavior might not back off with just being firm. So in the third instance she is going to as rude as possible and adds for emphasis to her message by saying, “Back the F**K up!” The shove occurs only if the man has encroached on her physical space and she backs up to create space after shoving him, in case that she puts him into fight-or-flight mode to stay out of striking range. The goal is flight-get him to leave.
Going as rude as possible is important since:
- You potentially draw outside attention to your situation, not that other people will help, but the potential pursuer may not want this attention and might flee.
- You are asserting that you are not a passive, easy target.
- You are getting yourself amped up in case this situation ends up going physical.
We have observed that many ladies that participate in this verbal scenario are hesitant to take the third stage to the required intensity of asserting themselves aggressively and using profanity. If being rude and aggressive is difficult for you, it is something that requires practice. If you have a friend or family member willing to work with you, role play this scenario with them and see how it feels. Make each repetition of the third stage more assertive and loud. This is something that can be cultivated with practice and proper role-playing.
Verbal assertiveness can deter undesired attention since predators are generally looking for easy targets. However, this example does not delve into the escalation where extreme, physical measures are necessary to deal with the escalating violence.
We practice role-playing ASK-TELL-MAKE scenarios all of our women's courses.
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