There are different kinds of violence, not all of them are physical and not all motives to use violence are the same. In the gym, we train to respond to Physical Violence & Sexual Violence mostly. In fact, most of the time it’s the Emotional Violence happens, even when the ‘aggressor’ isn’t a violent person, or has any violent intentions. Emotional Violence can be defined as when someone says or does something to make a person feel stupid or worthless. In general, it is done by Verbal Abuse.

Emotional Violence occurs more often than you realize. And not always you fathom what lines are being crossed until you process it. It can be done by someone you know well, even admire, or at a place you absolutely didn’t expect it to happen. When my students share such stories with me, they often mention they feel shame. My response is clear and simple – it’s not the person who was ‘attacked’ that should feel shame. One my of students decided to share her personal story (below) but preferred to remain anonymous. Though her story shouldn’t be. It is not the “size” of the event that makes the difference, it’s what YOU are able to do when you feel you are being harassed.
I am sure many of the readers of this article would be able to identify with her feeling in the event below:

“I started taking Krav Maga in late July 2021 because I was concerned about my personal safety. Stories appeared in the news daily about slashings, muggings, subway platform pushings, and sexual assaults.

In my mind, I always anticipated that I’d be accosted by a stranger but that’s not what happened to me. As I exited the synagogue in broad daylight with my elderly aunt, a man I knew stopped me to wish me a happy new year; I wished him the same. As I returned my attention back to my aunt, I took my eyes off this man.

Suddenly, in my peripheral vision, I caught this man approaching me again from the left. He was approaching too closely and violating my personal space. He got up close to me and proceeded to step on my left foot.

Once he stepped on my left foot, I raised my left arm in a defensive mode and attempted to gouge out his eyes with the fingers of my right hand. But, I realized he was wearing sunglasses. Abandoning an attempt to poke his eyes out, I got into position to hammer his nose with my right hand.

While I’m taking up this defensive position, this man belittled my Krav Maga training. He claimed that since I had let him get close enough for him to step on my toes, he “won.” I had no idea what he meant.

It takes a lot longer for me to write down into words what happened to me compared to the quick mental processing my brain did in nanoseconds. I’m situationally aware of who is around me, (in front of me, behind me, my aunt to my right, and the “attacker” on my left), very quickly because of my Krav Maga training.

As to why this man accosted me? It seems he “heard” I was taking Krav Maga and  fancies himself skilled in self-defense. Thus, he took it upon himself to “teach me a lesson” by testing my skills.

To be clear, I have been acquainted with this man through the synagogue for about 17 years. He’s a Wall Streeter and a married father of two. I’ve never had any personal relationship with him; although, he and my husband served on synagogue committees together. He is arguably one of the nicest people you would ever meet. But, on that day, without any provocation from me, he made a decision to “lay his hands” on me.

For hours afterwards, I blamed myself and wondered, “what had I done to provoke this man to lay his hands on me?” It took me hours to realize that I hadn’t done anything wrong.

That’s what’s so scary. It’s scary to realize that you can be accosted by someone you know. Someone you aren’t afraid of but who suddenly puts you in fear of your life.

As women, we must learn to reject the indoctrination of “oh, it must be my fault.” Instead, we need to retrain our brains to know, “I did nothing wrong; the attacker is the aggressor therefore I must defend myself.”

And so, my fellow Krav Maga trainees, my message to you is this: stay alert to the danger that lurks from someone you know or trust because it only takes a nanosecond for circumstances to change.”

Thank you for reading my story. H.S

-Defense is not just about fighting violence with violence, it’s about creating deterrence prior to the event, and responding proportionally when something happens.
Defending yourself starts with using your VOICE. You fight when all else failed…


Tsahi Shemesh