This week, we’re going to work on a skill that’s so simple, you probably spent most of your childhood being told not to use it: Loudness.
Loud noises are disruptive and attention-getting—which is why they are so helpful in a self defense situation. But we’re taught early in life that we shouldn’t be loud. By the time we reach adulthood, many of us are out of practice with this basic tool for self defense.
1. Find a place where you can be loud without alarming the people around you. In your car on the highway might be an option. Or someplace where everyone is being loud: a concert or sporting event. Or anywhere extremely noisy: near a construction site, behind the nice gentleman with the leaf blower, etc.
2. Yell! Try to get at least ten loud yells in, and keep trying to increase your volume. Here are some things you might practice yelling—try at least three of them:
- “Go away!”
- “Leave me (or him/her/us) alone!”
- “Let go of me!”
3. Don’t scream. Screaming is an instinctive response and most of us don’t need to practice it. We want to work instead on assertive vocal projection that will surprise or intimidate an attacker, and draw attention from bystanders. So use words that communicate specific information, and a lower tone—one instructor I know recommends using “the voice a mother dog uses to tell her puppies they’ve done something wrong.”
In an assault situation, yelling anything at all (or even screaming) is better than silence, because we want to attract attention and help. The words and phrases suggested above are good ones because they let bystanders know this is not a normal, peaceful interaction—that there’s a problem.
For the rest of the week, think about the effect your new loud voice would have in the different environments you move through each day. If you yelled for help at your office, how many people would be likely to hear you? If you had a safety problem in your apartment’s parking lot, how loud would you need to be to alert others? Also, notice situations where loud noises attract your attention. What kinds of noises indicate a problem? What kinds of noises do you tend to disregard?
By Friday, you should have a better appreciation of how much volume you can muster in an emergency. I hope you’ll also feel more comfortable using your voice in a powerful way, and have a few of words that you’ve practiced at full volume, so you don’t have to think about them too much.
Let’s use the next five days to make ourselves safer and more powerful! Check in below in the comments to share how things are going—or Tweet your responses to @SusanSchorn, hashtag #FearLessFridays. You can find all the FearLess Fridays activities on the main page.