EPC — Voice as Defense

Voice is our protector.   Here is an excerpt from my book Women Voice and Writing, to help you think about this…

In a self-defense class, our instructor Peg taught that the voice is always the first line of defense. “Speak up. If you are being attacked, yell. It helps retard shock and shallow breathing. If you yell, your lungs fill up and you are more grounded  and present than if you move into a flight response.”  Peg instructs  our class of 18 women to stomp our feet and yell “No!” then scream “911” all together.

We do this, loudly. A good deal of sound comes out. Then we laugh, a bit uncomfortable from our uncharacteristic shout. But one young woman is in tears. Peg, our instructor, asks her, “What’s going on?” The twenty-something  woman says, “I’ve never yelled ‘NO!’ before, and it scared me. And it felt so good.”

Peg gives each of us a post-a-note and tells us to write our name on it, then put it on the floor. One by one, we each do this exercise. “Keep one foot on your name. It is you that you are protecting. Now draw a circle in the air all around you; that is your boundary.” The “mugging” instructor  approaches and taunts, pushing into the circle. We note that each of us has a different boundary where we feel “infringed upon.”

Peg tells us that women have smaller circles, even taking into con- sideration our proportions, than most men. And that women who have been powerfully silenced (abuse, rape, assault, incest) have the most permeable circles and the most difficult time protecting self.

It is important  to note, and strengthen, our chosen boundaries.

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