Fighting back to survive

STORY BY COURTNEY BLOK

Morgan Wickham embraces her self empowerment.

Morgan Wickham embraces her self empowerment. (Photos by Courtney Blok/ The Sheridan Sun)

You don’t have to fight back with fists.

When we hears the words “self defence” we usually think about physically taking on an attacker. That is not always the case.

Deb Chard from Wen-Do Women’s Self Defence, explains that you don’t always need to physically fight back.

“In Wen-Do Women’s Self Defence we understand ‘fighting back’ as surviving. So of course some women have stayed silent and still in attacks. Some women have verbally de-escalated their attacker. Some women have called for help from bystanders and received it, and some women have verbally and physically fought back in other ways,” said Chard.

According to its website, Wen-Do Women’s Self Defence offers a fifteen hours basic course that covers a wide variety of physical and verbal self defence techniques, awareness and avoidance of threatening situations, and discussions of psychological, social and legal issues involved in self defence.

Being afraid of being attacked can be a daily challenge for some people.

“I don’t feel safe walking alone at all. I’d rather have someone I trust walking with me,” said Julia Fernandes, an Advertising and Marketing Communication Management student at Sheridan College.

She’s never been in a situation where she had to use self defence.

“I’m very thankful I’ve never needed to,” said Fernandes. “I’m afraid that someone will grab me from behind, that I am being followed, or someone will try to rob me.”

Unfortunately that’s not the case for everyone. Morgan Wickham, 18, was walking home from a party one night, when a group of seven attacked her and her two friends.

“I was just walking when a group of people around our age started yelling offensive comments,” said Wickham. “They came from behind and grabbed me by my ponytail. They pushed me to the ground and started beating me up.”

In the heat of the moment Wickham didn’t have time to react.

“My first instinct because she was hitting my head was to put my face towards the ground and cover my neck. I didn’t really think about fighting back or self defence at the time. It just happened so fast,” said Wickham. “I thought I was going to die. I was on the ground pleading mercy. It was very scary and I have nightmares still.”

Wickham had some mild bruising, swollen gums and a concussion, but is glad that it wasn’t any worse.

“I feel like they were so many of them that me fighting back would have agitated them. It could have turned into a big fight, if we decided to fight back.”

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The physical injuries went away, but the fear hasn’t left.

“I haven’t walked in areas I don’t know, since then and I don’t like walking late at night anymore either,” said Wickham. “I learned self defence after the situation, but I feel like it needs to be continually practiced. I remember a few small things, but honestly forgot a lot of it.”

You don’t need to be professionally trained to defend yourself.

“Women who have had no self defence training defend themselves successfully all around the world. Girls and women are stronger and smarter than society wants us to believe,” said Chard. “Take a look at a Walt Disney film and look at what we as women are supposed to understand about ourselves in watching the princess. She depends on the prince or a man to protect her; when she runs away from what is threatening her, she falls or she is just too slow. If she gets caught she struggles to no avail.”

However time and time again it is proven that our intuition is stronger than commonly perceived.

“Trust your instincts, you know when you’re in a situation that you don’t want to be in,” advices Wickham.

“It is never, never your fault if you have been assaulted, hurt, abused in any way,” said Chard.

 

To sign up for classes at Wen-Do Women’s Self Defence or learn more about defending yourself, visit www.wendo.ca.