As a kid who grew up in Los Angeles, I learned at a young age that anyone on the street could rob you. I lived in Hollywood, and unlike what most foreigners think, in the 90’s it wasn’t about the stars, but more about homeless people and prostitutes. By the age of seven I knew how to hold my purse over my shoulder (why did I even have a purse?), look out for weirdoes, and never talk to strangers. As you can guess my childhood was anything but normal.
When I moved to Israel, I became more worried about terrorism and less about criminal activities. I started checking buses like I was a Mossad agent, even though I had no idea what I was actually looking for. Jerusalem, despite what you see in the news, gave me a sense of security, unlike that of LA. I forgot about my purse–shoulder attire, realized that all the weirdoes had Messiah syndrome or were loud Americans on the bus, and strangers were Israelis that just wanted to know how much you make.
I let my guard down.
And I was robbed and attacked.
It happened this past March when I was walking home with my son. I saw the guy, and even though my intuition kicked in, I ignored it. He seemed young, wasn’t looking in my direction and kept to himself. He came at me from behind and covered my mouth. My instincts kicked in. My fear kicked in. My mommy powers kicked in. Oh, and did I mention I was seven months pregnant at the time? For some reason I tried to fight him, seeing that he wasn’t pulling out a weapon. My son grabbed at my legs, as the attacked grabbed at my jacket. He eventually got my cell phone (good bye smartphone….24 payments, and I had just paid the last one), and threw us both down the stairs as he ran off. I had screamed for help the whole time, but no one was around, even though it was 4:30pm in the afternoon. I had looked him in the eyes, trying to remember his face. But it took the police a week for the sketch artist to meet with me, so it didn’t do much good.
I still walk around trying to find him. Who cares about the phone—I want him off the streets.
That day my son and I took our first ambulance ride. I thought my water broke in the fight and the fall, but it turns out I just peed myself. It was a hot day and I had a smoothie, and pregnant women aren’t good with bladders anyway. Thanks to Israeli bureaucracy, I am still fighting the ambulance bill, which claims I called them—of course that’s ridiculous since I didn’t have a phone.
Once at the hospital, in the trauma unit, I decided I would never end up there again. I decided I needed to learn how to properly defend myself. I hadn’t listen to my instincts, and I fought like a little girl, lots of bitch-slapping to the face, but no real harm. I knew I would have to wait until after I gave birth, and so I began counting down the days until I could sign up for a class. I also walked around with pepper spray, which helped, but made me feel like I would spray myself.
Finally the day arrived. We organized a self-defense class through El Halev, to be held in our neighborhood, in order to encourage other women to take the course. The class taught me how to listen to my surroundings, and to my intuitions. It gave me the basic tools to fight off an attacker if I need to. We all had the opportunity to hear and bond with each other over similar fears for safety and know we are not alone. We learned that we are strong and we have the power to defend ourselves.
Every woman should take a self-defense course. What happened to me could of course happen to anyone else. I say this from a place of strength and not fear.
Think of self-defense like a supportive bra. Eventually every woman needs it.
In the final class, each one of us had the opportunity to break a cinder block with our bare hands. The first time round it took me three tries to break that bugger in half, but I did. The feeling of strength was so powerful, I begged to break the block again. This time before I broke it, the instructor told me “this one is for the attacker, go get him.” As we were taught in the class, I belted out a loud, “NO!,” and slammed down hard on that block, cutting right through it. Right to my core.
On to Krav Maga…who’s with me?