Is it a person who has been attacked and hasn’t survived? Is it also a person who has been attacked or abused several times? Is it a person who hangs their head low while walking down the street in a fear stricken and submissive state in anticipation of violence and abuse? Is it a person who looks a certain way, lives a certain way, talks a certain way? Is it a certain personality type, psychological or social profile, or is it a mindset, a perception of oneself? It’s hard to say really, if you ask most people a victim is everybody else but themselves.

Why am I on about this? Well, most of the time when I approach a person about taking personal protection classes, or more specifically a woman friend about one of our rape prevention seminars I always get the: “I don’t need cause it’ll never happen to me.” array of speeches. Whether they are referring to their lifestyle, hairstyle or who they know it seems that most women are impervious to the depravity of others. Lucky aren’t they? I also get, when speaking to more learned or spiritual people, the: “I don’t act like a victim, have that mindset or project that image.”, speech. Incredible the number of self-actualised people on the face of this earth. Please do not take my cynicism the wrong way. If I’m being sharp with my words it’s because I care, and because I understand the importance of safety for ourselves and our loved-ones.

So what is a victim? I believe it’s is a person, for one reason or another takes no responsibility for their actions or the actions of others that directly affect them. In essence it is the person that blames everyone else and has willingly given up their personal power and made themselves helpless to the world around them. Sound familiar yet? How about the person that says it’s not my fault, it’s because she said this and he said that. Or the person who believes that can’t do anything to change anything in their day or life because he or she controls this or that and therefore makes it impossible for me to do anything. It is that person that we hear whining incessantly about what this or that person has done to them, and how it’s not fair, life isn’t fair and if only things were different. Wait a minute, isn’t this all of us? Maybe not all the time but at some point or another in maybe our day, week, month, year or life we have each sounded like this. So are we in danger? You tell me. The only time we can be sure of what we feel, what we know and what we project is in the here and now. There is no way for any manner of person to know what their state of mind will be every minute of every day for the rest of their lives, and even more so where they happen to be at those minutes. What if you are walking down a deserted street, late at night, with your worst nightmare waiting around the corner when it so happens that you’re carrying yourself like a victim. Can you tell me beyond all certainty that this will never happen. Because if you know with certainty the things will and will not happen to you from this moment until you pass on, by all means please call me and tell when and if I’m winning the lottery, cause I could really use a new boat.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying that when people get attacked for any reason that they have done anything wrong, or made some mistake. On the contrary, they were being what we all are and can never escape, human. So all those that are not human at this time may stop reading this piece and please refer to my extensive works of extra-terrestrial assaults and what not. Moving right along, when anyone decides to violate you in any way, never should you say you had it coming, or you deserved it, for it is their mistake, and just think what a mistake it will be if you have a plan of action.

But what of the attacker? Why attack you, what propels any human being to want to defile another, destroy another in some measure. Surely, you think I’m referring to a sociopath or run of the mill nut job rapist. But I’m not; I’m still talking about the same people who are victims now and again. Haven’t we all done or said hurtful things to others and especially loved ones. Haven’t we all screamed, yelled and berated the odd stranger, friend or sibling. Haven’t some of us raised our hands against these same people? I know I have, I’ve said things to people I love I wish I could have taken back seconds later or traded blows with a friend over something stupid, or picked on my little brother because he was just that, little. Am I a monster, were they all victims? Who knows?

But not to stray too far from the point let’s get back to why, I or any of you might behave this way. A very famous buzz word in the psychoanalysis and psychotherapy vernacular comes to mind, projection. By that I mean to take whatever feelings or perceptions we have about ourselves (good or bad) and projecting them onto another person, in effect holding them responsible for whatever our state of mind may be (funny where it seems this is going). There is also transference, where we superimpose certain dynamics of a relationship we may have with a certain person, onto another relationship because of similarities between each of these people. If light bulbs aren’t going off yet, let me coax your higher reasoning with an example: think of a person you don’t really know that well, that you hate, I mean that you can’t stand, that really irritates you, that you would like to see take a nasty fall only to double over laughing at this sight. Whether it’s your boss, a friend of a friend etc… Don’t be shy, now why does this person annoy you? Do they talk too loud, are they arrogant, do they never give you a straight answer or are they too brutally honest? Anything will do, I’m sure you can all think of at least one person, or at least a person you do like or love that gets on your nerves in one way or another. Now tell me why it makes you nuts that they are one way or another? In the case of the person you don’t know that well, how can you pass judgment on them, you know nothing about what makes them the way they are. What if you did? Would you be so hard on the person you may find arrogant if you knew that his parents had verbally abused him/her or their whole life, taking every opportunity to make them feel like nothing, convincing them they would amount to nothing. Now it’s understandable isn’t it, it’s acceptable, they are human too and have a right to be how they are (you moral consciousness might be telling you). So why did they get under your skin in the first place, it wasn’t personal, and they didn’t act like this just to piss you off did they? Could it be that whatever made you angry is within you, that you either saw within them an unresolved issue with a closer relationship, or an aspect of yourself you’re not comfortable with or in complete denial about? Maybe.

Let’s move away from my pontificating and use myself as an example. I have always disliked, or had trouble with emotional people. By that I mean people who can’t help but communicate every single feeling they have in a one minute time span, and who seem to, in that one minute experience a ridiculous variety of emotions. Yes, I may be exaggerating but just to make my point and I will freely admit that I am getting annoyed just thinking about it. I mean these people; every little thing is an event: they cry, the laugh, they scream a million times per day. JEEEEEEEESUS!!!! So why does it piss me off, because growing up, I wasn’t allowed to express what I felt, I was stifled, and as I grew I was told that as a man I had to be stoic and bottle everything I felt, never sharing or finding relief. If not, I would have failed those who had painted this image for me and this was most unbearable. As a result I thought that those that lived a 24hour drama were weak, selfish and I looked down on them. But as I grew older, and read enough books, spoke to enough people, I came to understand all this psychobabble I’m going on about, on different levels. But still, they piss me off. Because now, though I understood why they may be the way they are and me the way I am, I began to envy what they had that I couldn’t seem to achieve, the simple expressing of one’s emotions. So in reality, I was never angry with them, but with myself, I did only hurt them with my words or actions but myself as well. I watched Fahrenheit 9/11 the other day and a U.S. soldier, years younger than I, had understood this and said something I found remarkable; that every time we take life we kill a part of ourselves. Well isn’t it the same when we lash out at others?

So back to my initial point as to why a person may attack us, provoke us etc… Barring certain exceptions (only because I believe that all rules or statement of fact especially when opinionated has at least one exception). It could be that this person looks at you and on some level sees what they hate in themselves, and so they chose you, they project onto you: Maybe it’s because your tall, or you look like you have money, or simply your of a certain gender or race, and your attacker is going to take all the dissatisfaction they feel in their life at that moment and make you pay for it convinced you deserve it somehow. Sounds like a victim trying to make victims doesn’t it. When you think of a person antagonizing you, trying to escalate a situation like this they can become violent, on some level its like they want you to feel what they feel, like this they can take a good look at themselves in you eyes and then tear what they see apart. Richard once said in one of his articles that you have to take everything into consideration when approached in a hostile manner: where is this person coming from?

Does that imply compassion on some level for all manner of aggressor’s? Maybe. But remember that compassion for others can never come before self-love and by that I mean the appreciation for your existence and the subsequent will to preserve your life there from. Should we feel some measure of compassion for even the sickest, nastiest of criminals? I think so, especially after we hear how they got that way. Does that mean that it is up to us to save them and therefore allow our compassion not override the necessity to commit violence in order to protect ourselves?

ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! Do you think that by allowing any kind of attacker or abuser, get the better of you on any level, does them any favours, or encourages them to change their ways now that you have so freely given them your power, now that they have seen the wrong they’ve done? If that were the case, criminals worldwide would be handing themselves in to the police or seeking therapy en masse. Besides if most of us can hardly figure out what’s best for ourselves how can we possibly be qualified to know what’s best for others. It seems to me, in any event, that you show more compassion to them and yourself, defending yourself (whether by diffusing or if you have no choice, fighting) than by giving in to them; because you send that message to them and to yourself that it’s not okay for anyone to strip away your humanity so they don’t have to face themselves. Anything less, is self-hating at best.

I just want to conclude by saying that though I didn’t directly quote anyone other than one thing Rich said, I can’t take sole credit for the structuring of my opinions, many of the things I’ve said (if not all) have been said before. So let me say that this was inspired by the writings of people like Dostoyevsky, Carl Jung, Dan Millman, Thich Nhat Hanh and a host of others. But my true inspiration comes from the people in my everyday life who in many cases are wise and learned. So I thank my family, the people at Senshido, and my close personal friends (you know who you are).

Tarek Kazak

Self Protection Ireland