Reality of Self-defense
by Razel Wolf
I grew up an unusual child with a genius IQ and extremely sensitive. The
injustice and violence that I read about in the newspaper paralyzed me. I
decided at about age 8 that I would never read the newspaper again. I could not
bear to hear of the horrors that humans perpetrated against humans. I remember
my dad and I had a rip roaring fight about it. But I was adamant. I felt I could
do nothing about it and therefore, I did not want to torture myself with reading
about it and being helpless.
As I grew older, as a teenager, I began to look for alternatives to what was
described as a good life in the U.S. I sought out other teachings, other
approaches. My brother put his heart into becoming a C.O. for the Vietnam War.
And I favored his choice. I began to study the ways that Mahatma Gandhi proposed
- nonviolent action. I found him to be made of steel, a man of absolute
conviction, a man of his word, a man unafraid to confront injustice - in a way
that was absolutely affective and without the use of violence. I chose this
approach as my approach.
When I was 23 I lived in Malibu, CA. My husband was away a lot. I was working
as a bookkeeper at a new health food store. We had a phone system to install and
had a worker in from the phone company. He and I struck up a conversation. He
invited me out. He invited me to go sailing. He invited me to have dinner with
him. He invited me to go shopping. He offered me money. I turned down all of
these offers, citing that I was a married woman and was not interested in
pursuing any type of male/female relations. On the third day of his pursuit of
me, he sat before me weeping. Telling me that I was the only person he knew who
could tell him about what he really wanted to know - spirit. (I was studying a
spiritual path at the time.) Well, BINGO, he hit the one nerve I would respond
to. Against my gut feeling, I agreed to go with him for dinner. I clearly
defined that the time together would be for talking only about spirit.
We took the car I was driving - it was a car that belonged to a friend of
mine - an older model Mercedes Benz (he was driving a company truck). We drove
down the PCH into Santa Monica. And as we drove I began to realize what a
mistake I had made. He immediately directed the conversation to realms I found
uncomfortable. He threatened to throw himself into oncoming traffic if I would
not grant him the favors he wanted. He raged like a crazy man.
We never made it to a restaurant. He drove to a motel. Before he strode in to
to get a room, he saw my glance at the car keys in the ignition and he snatched
them, and said, "You weren't thinking of going any where were you?"
As he got the room key, I was free to leave. Leave the car there (my friend's
Mercedes) and run. I had an eternal moment of consideration. Was my safety, my
sanctity worth my friend's car? Sadly, I decided no. And I went up to the room
with this man.
I am not a woman that is afraid of sexuality. And I was able to negotiate
myself and this man inside the space of this rape with very little harm and very
little time. The details of the event are still too painful, too embarrassing
and too personal to fully recount. As we drove back to Malibu, he forced me to
take money. I did not know at the time that this would make him impervious to
charges of rape.
The aftermath is another story. The fallout that happened with my husband and
me. The crumbling inside of myself of my own sense of my ability to protect
myself. The war that raged and the sides that were picked by my
"friends." Suffice it to say that I am a strong and resilient woman
and did the healing that I needed to do and I moved onward.
Many years later, when I began to study a different spiritual path from the
Shamanic Tradition, I encountered a strong man who was adamant about self
defense. I took my first self defense weekend taught by Dawn Callan. To graduate
from the class, each of the women had to "take down" a man three times
successfully. This man was a black belt in five different martial arts and
happened to be a twin in his looks to the man that raped me. I don't know if I
have ever been so terrified in my life. But I hung in there and I proceeded to
take this man down, three times. He was 6'3". I'm 5'5". He weighed
220, I weighed 110. I had never fought a single person in my life - that was his
profession. To this day, I give many thanks to this man, who allowed himself to
be used as a "punching bag" so that we ladies might discover our
hidden strength. He was a sorry sight by the end of the day. All the padding and
covering he wore was not protection enough from the rage of the 10 women in that
class.... I am sure I was not the only there that had been a victim before.
Over the next few years, I dabbled in martial arts. But despite my successes
- something inside of me warred against having to take this kind of approach.
As I continued to study, my teacher spoke again and again ad nauseum about
firearms. Finally in 1997, I could no longer stand to hear his ranting about
becoming firearm savvy and I signed up for a week long course at GunSite. My
teacher insisted that I shoot a 1911A and I borrowed one of his. The gun was too
big for my hand. And I spent the week struggling with a firearm that was too big
for me - without knowing it.
I remember when we first stepped up to the firing line. I held this .45 in my
hands. (I had been shooting a 357 magnum before fairly regularly.) And the
instructor had us fire off a round. Bulls Eye! Then he wanted another shot. And
I was paralyzed. I could not for the life of me pull that trigger. I stood there
on that line and wept, small tears that I hoped noone would see. I was so
ashamed of myself for being a wimp. But I could not fire that gun again.
One range officer came to my side, he stood with his mouth right at my ear
and he told me that he knew that I could do it. He talked to me until the
confidence that he expressed became my own and I was able to shoot again. This
man stayed with me for the whole week. Whenever I felt I could not move forward
- he was there with words of encouragement.
I had a very hard time that week. I know it was all in my mind. But at every
break I would disappear into the bathroom and cry. Somehow - learning how to
shoot, taking the authority and responsibility for saying my life was more
important than another's was tearing me apart. Then I would return after break
and shoot for many more hours.
By the end of the week, we discovered that a major part of my shooting
problem was that the gun was too big for my hand and we replaced it with a
streamlined grip. From that moment on my shooting became utterly accurate - one
shot, one hit. I stunned myself and all my instructors (except for my benefactor
of course - he knew somehow all along).
I even had an involuntary discharge on the last day (due to a wardrobe issue)
and decided under no uncertain terms that I was going to continue - to finish no
matter what. The instructor of the course was more impressed with my nerve and
my will to go on - than the fact that my clothing had gotten tangled up in my
I graduated Marksman. I was very surprised and very proud of myself.
How have I carried that into my every day life? I have tested, passed and
renewed my CCW license. I have a loaded fire arm under my bed that I am
competent to use. I have a fire arm and ammo in a "survival pack"
should I need to hit the road for some reason. I have a third firearm that I use
for shooting on the range when I go (very infrequently).
But honestly I would have to say that I still struggle with this. This issue
of the state of our world today. It is not so much that I am angry that I might
have to protect myself. I am angry that we as humans fight with each other. That
the only ways we can find to resolve some of our problems with each other is to
see who can be the more physically forceful. That is what I am angry about. I
feel we are capable of so much more. And I hate that I am forced by the state of
affairs amongst us to have to consider killing one of you for my right to live.
I am of the mind now, that if push came to shove, I will stand up for my life
or a friend's rather than some "baddy's" life. I have definitely made
peace with that. But I am remiss. I do not practice enough. And that is because
of my underlying conflict as I have expressed above.
I have many friends who are so adamant about guns, about the right to self
protection, about the conviction to take another's life if necessary. I have
friends that almost seem to relish in the possibility of such an altercation. I
do not judge my friends for this. I am glad for their adamancy, their clarity,
But I feel I am another breed of person. I do not know exactly how to balance
these two aspects of myself. The side that is fierce and utterly committed to
the preservation of our rights. And the side that yearns to see other ways to
accomplish this than force.
I am very active in my world in making a good impact on the people around me.
I am a teacher, a counselor, a performer. I infuse everything that I do with
honesty, commitment and integrity to the best of my ability. Although I may
sound like it from what I have written, I am not a wimp. But I am torn.
I continue to face this challenge. I was requested by Angel Shamaya to write
an article since last May, 2000. I finally decided after looking at his request
every day since May that I could not write an article because of my lack of
clarity. He insists that this is exactly the reason why I should write it.
I have acted on his request and sincerity. I do not know if this will reach
anyone of you. It is a hard choice to make. But I do continue to make it. I do
hold and shoot and own guns. And I will protect myself. I have no doubt of that.
In honor and respect of all that we can truly be as humans, I close.
Following are excerpts from the letter I sent to Razel after reading the
above message. She said it was okay if I printed my response if I thought it
might help other women who are having similar feelings. -- Angel Shamaya
Let 'em flow. Sometimes, it hurts to face up to the fact that our world is
currently grossly flawed. I honor you for facing and feeling and flowing your
tears as needed. Eyes leak for a reason.
A friend of mine once told me something like this, paraphrased:
"The exquisite, gut-wrenching beautiful painful joyful sorrow I feel
when I look at the ways of my people makes me want to soar like an eagle, or
kill myself -- depending upon what day it is."
Emotions when confronting deep pains are rich, indeed. Good for you for
getting in touch with that deep stuff, Razel. Good for you.
The only so-called "weakness" I sense is that in your ability to
embrace your current reality, dear. Embrace what is, and let it be... then let
it go. I don't know if you read my article called Suicide in the Gun Debate or
not, but if you did you likely noticed my willingness to gush out my heartache
as needed. My only blood brother killed himself with a gun. The healing was
immense. What I learned could be vital for our society as far as that issue goes
-- if we can get anti-gun people and especially suicide family survivors to read
it. Feel free to give it a glance; it's not that long a read: http://www.KeepAndBearArms.com/Suicide1.
I also urge you to remember this: any form of healing is powerful, as long as
it is natural and allowed to remain so. Holding back, protecting, defending or
hiding/shielding pain is not natural, and it only festers that which Great
Spirit would otherwise and instantly love away from you so you can shine.
There is also a biblical passage that comes to mind: "Thy greatest
weakness shall become thy greatest strength." I like that one. It takes me
to a place of not only embracing my perceived "weaknesses," but also
to a place of LIKING THEM. :-) If nothing, life is certainly a big hilarious
trip... and we are all fallible in one way or another.
First, please forgive yourself the rest of the way. You deserve that much for
all the love you've shown weary travelers, Razel.
Next, please be gentle with yourself about your practice with firearms. Maybe
this true story will help you through that process:
There was a story a few months back about an 87 year old San Francisco
resident who heard a burglar break into his back door. He grabbed a loaded
revolver from underneath his bed and opened his bedroom door to find the man
standing right there. He shot him, closed the door, called the cops and
waited. They came and found a repeat violent felon dead outside the man's
Razel, the man had had the revolver since 1947, and he hadn't shot it or
any other gun in 10 years. Understand that most uses of a gun in a
self-defense situation happen within less than 10 yards.
In other words: ease up on yourself, my friend. You're fine. If you get an
urge to go shoot up some lead, listen to that urge and go hone your skills. Just
love yourself about it, okay? You might also find great strength and comfort in
helping a woman get protected and trained. There are women you know and love who
do not have a rapist-stopper, nor would they know how to even load one if they
did. Love them into being self-determinant sisters, Razel. Pick one, and give
yourself -- and her -- that gift.
Your courage in sharing these deep feelings is admirable to the extreme.
THANK YOU SO MUCH. I'm sure you will receive a few supportive emails from people
who are returning the favor you've shown them by sharing so openly. Take what
these good people say to heart, Razel. We're all in this together...