Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Being Attacked

One of my best friends has the unfortunate knowledge of what it's like to be attacked. I asked her to recount the events and she generously indulged me. 

Notice what she felt emotionally and physically as well as what she didn't. Note what was on her mind and how much noise she made. And, finally, even though she didn't specifically say it, the group attacked her all at once. It wasn't a polite, one at a time, assault as the cinema would have us believe. In fact, very little of what actually happens in real life is correctly portrayed in movies as well as books. But, that's why fightwrite is here: to get your fight right.

While walking to a convenience store at about midnight, a group of young adults asked her for a cigarette. She said she didn't have one. They made a smart comment, she followed suit and the violence ensued. That's it. No warning.

How long ago was it? 17 years ago (She was in her early 20s)

How clearly do you remember it? It's patchy and clear all at the same time. The actions are blurred, the feelings and emotions are like it happened just now.

How many attacked you? 3 men, 3 women

What did they do during the attack? Kicked me, punched me, jumped on me, bit me, pulled my hair out, they shouted and screamed a lot 

What were you thinking during the attack? Protect my organs! I got in the fetal position. One fell during, she may have been drunk, and I wrapped my hand around her hair and used every bit of strength to pull and hold on. I hurt her. I could her screaming, "she's got my hair!" She was in pain.

Did you feel fear during the event? No. Before it yes. During it no, survival mode kicked in. 

What caused them to stop? I don't know. It may have been passing traffic. We were near a main road.

What did you do immediately after? Started planning how to protect my mom because I was afraid of how she would react and didn't want her to get in to trouble. (By the way, her mom went on to attack the assailants - who were never charged for this crime - on several different occasions. Her mom's kinda awesome.)

What were your injuries? Black eyes, puncture wounds from bites, sore head, foot print on my chest from being jumped on. My ribs have calcifications now that will never go away. A gentle reminder of the past!

Did you feel your injuries during the attack? Only my hair being pulled

Did you scream during the attack and if so, do you remember screaming? No. I didn't make a sound. (Her mother, who lived in an apartment not far away, heard the screaming of those attacking her.)

What psychological effects were there? PTSD. Insomnia, paranoia, self medication, agoraphobia, low self esteem, lack of trust. Everything I did had to be assessed for potential risk from catching a bus to get to work in the morning to taking my dog a walk after dark. 

How long did they last? I had 2 whole years of cognitive behavioral therapy. In the end I think I decided to stop being so scared of everything

Do you still think or dream about it? Sometimes I think about it, I've never dreamt about it. Not much unless asked specifically about it or if I feel it may help someone else with similar issues. What I do think about is how I never want it to happen again and continue to risk assess everything. If I get complacent or too comfortable I mentally drag myself back to how hard it was to get better but not what actually occurred! 

I met my friend at the gym. She was in kickboxing and self defense, later she enrolled in Brazilian Jiujitsu. All of those activities scared her but she made a choice to do them anyway for that very reason. She's one of the toughest women I've ever met, in part, because of the attack.

I say that because it's completely feasible for your character to be tough and skilled in fighting in response to violence inflicted upon them. But, it won't be immediate. They may be, likely will be, mentally, emotionally and spiritually injured for some time. However, if they are the hero of the story, they won't be able to stay frozen in that place. They will move forward but not because you need them to be the hero. They will charge ahead because the call within them to be what no one else can be is louder than the screams of their fears.

Make your hero weathered rather than tough. Make them hard to break because of what they've had to take. If they are able to fight skillfully, let the reader know why and it can't be because of luck or natural born ability. One may be born with ability but never skill. That has to be earned. Show the driving reason why they have dedicated themselves to the hard (brutal) work it takes to learn to fight. That applies to your villain as well. Because, after all, the only difference between a hero and villain is who is telling the story.

Until the next round at FightWrite.net, get blood on your pages.


  1. My family (9 kids, 2 adults)and I are learning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu together. I've never been attacked but it's comforting to know I can defend myself should the need arise.

    1. I am so glad you are doing that. Of all the martial arts and fighting styles I've done, BJJ is the one I keep coming back to. And, when I teach self defense, it is one of the first I recommend. It takes away others' ability to intimidate you with proximity. Good for you, Rachel and your family!!! Find me on IG and let me know all along how it's going for you all. :) @carla.c.hoch


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