February 2012 Non-Fiction Book Club:Gavin de Becker's The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals that Protect us from Violence

(53 Posts)
StewieGriffinsMom Mon 16-Jan-12 16:36:18

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BasilRathbone Wed 29-Feb-12 21:33:15

It is a brilliant read in that it's quick, engaging and you just can't stop turning the pages to read more. He's a brilliant writer, really gets you into the subject matter.

But then I completely forgot it all. Read it a few months ago and the only things I remember is looking out for people who ignore your boundaries and listening to your instincts - also that bit about people attributing to their dogs, the discomfort they are unconsciously feeling but won't allow themselves to acknowledge.

It's a useful book in that it's not done from a feminist perspective (agree about the victim-blaming) and yet manages to deconstruct some of the societal behaviour imposed on and internalised by women, which put them in danger. I think it ties up with that blog post about women saying No very well (this one) in that it acknowledges the danger of our conditioning - what it doesn't do, is acknowledge that we can't just throw off a lifetime of conditioning at the drop of a hat.

SweetTheSting Wed 29-Feb-12 21:38:05

Wow, Basil, that's a really good summary! I regret starting it so early as I am having to refer back to my mark-ups much more than in previous bookclubs when the general 'shape' of the book has stayed with me longer.

Ahh I didn't see the names on the list on the back. I was using a Kindle. Might have a look and see if I can guess!

I missed the dog bit too Basil!

I agree about forgetting it. There was an awful lot of information thrown into the book.

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 29-Feb-12 21:42:21

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SweetTheSting Wed 29-Feb-12 21:42:43

The 'Forced Teaming' chapter might be a good read for men who don't understand why they might make a woman feel threatened, because they wouldn't feel threatened in a similar position.

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 29-Feb-12 21:44:44

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BasilRathbone Wed 29-Feb-12 21:46:32

Ah yes, forced teaming

I might read it again one day. It is good. I just think that it's so easy to read, that I zipped through it without really disgesting much. Had forgotten about that forced teaming and it is a really well-observed phenomenon

I must admit when I saw we were going to read this book I was a bit sceptical as I thought it could be victim-blaming. But I don't think it was until the relationship section that I thought he went a bit awry. The first half of the book was good and useful.

SweetTheSting Wed 29-Feb-12 21:50:03

Back to SGM's point about GdeB advising against restraining orders - I was surprised by that too. I thought the main point of restraining orders was to try and ensure a quicker police response if you felt under threat, maybe that's not how they are used in the US because surely that would be a good thing?

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 29-Feb-12 21:50:05

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Yes forced teaming was great (and very recognizable)

SweetTheSting Wed 29-Feb-12 21:51:18

Sorry, I am masisvely x-posting, MN went all slow and ASCII on me for a bit, back to colours and adverts again now though!

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 29-Feb-12 21:53:23

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Yes SGM I think you are right.

The other thing I thought was good from the stalker/men who won't take no for an answer was to disengage. You hear that so often on MN and it is so right. One of the many reasons why the relationship section is so good here.

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 29-Feb-12 21:57:22

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AyeRobot Wed 29-Feb-12 21:57:48

I've not read it, but am going to chip in regardless, if no-one minds.

The "once a victim, twice a volunteer" type phrase is quite LA therapy/12 Step speak and I understand why it gets people's backs up. It does mine now that I am better versed in feminist stuff. That said, when I was in an abusive relationship and came across that phrase, a lightbulb did come on, or rather choices became available to me that I didn't previously believe existed. Some of my entrapment was in my own mind. Ugh, that doesn't sound quite right - I hope you know what I mean.

And the ignoring boundaries thing is hugely important. I have found that once you have to enforce a boundary with consequences (as opposed to explaining it and the boundary being accepted), then you have a problem. Massive red flag for me and there's not much coming back from that one in my book - that person will always be at arms length for me,

SweetTheSting Wed 29-Feb-12 21:58:15

So I don't really understand why he was against them, then?

SweetTheSting Wed 29-Feb-12 22:01:27

Yep, I spotted the 'no is a complete sentence' too smile

I liked that he stated 'crime of passion is not a description of a crime, it is a description of an excuse' after stating that killing a wife was usually a decision not a loss of control. I think there's a few UK judges that could do with reading that passage.

Sorry that was you were right about him projecting his childhood a bit.

I can kind of understand a restraining order provoking a response from a violent ex, but so can many other things you do e.g. New relationship. Would they lull you into a false sense of security?

Oh I agree about the setting boundaries being a huge problem if you have to do it, Aye. I think that is one of the things people don't get who slag off the relationship section.

SweetTheSting Wed 29-Feb-12 22:11:59

I've found the bit now about the restraining orders. He does cite wives being attacked whilst they are actually at court getting the order, he also cites something which sounds awful about someone calling 911 re a threat from her ex, no officers were sent as the restraining order had expired.

His main objection, I think, is the RO hurts by convincing the woman she is safe and it should be on a case by case consideration not universal (I'm answering my own question here blush).

He states it's more 'adversarial' than e.g. arrest for battery (woman vs abuser rather than legal system vs abuser) but I am pretty unconvinced that the latter wouldn't also be seen by the abuser as an action of the woman, as we have seen from victims being intimidated out of giving testimony.

AyeRobot Wed 29-Feb-12 22:43:44

Is there much in the book about recognising the threat of harm? If so, can/will anyone precis?

SweetTheSting Wed 29-Feb-12 22:50:38

I agree that 'once a victim, twice a volunteer' is a really ugly phrase (though glad you found it helpful in the past, Aye).

I think he is trying to be 'empowering' in some way by saying that the victim is always 'making' a choice either way, to stay or to go - but as he then goes on to cite poor police response, the ineffectiveness of restraining orders, the lack of refuge places and the additional danger at the point of leaving, the 'leaving' choice doesn't sound great either.

SweetTheSting Wed 29-Feb-12 22:57:22

There was a fair bit on boundaries and things you might see at the beginning of a relationship (jealousy, moving too fast etc). Some of it (re 'stranger harm' ) was about being alert to your intuition and beliveing that danger was possible so you didn't shut out the voice of unease.

He also used some really crude examples about specific warning signs e.g. a company rehiring someone who'd previously killed an employee - who then stalked and killed another. I don't think they were very helpful!

SweetTheSting Wed 29-Feb-12 23:02:25

He suggested that people can readily process and predict non-violent behaviour and therefore to demonstrate he built a list of favourable and corresponding unfavourable behaviour e.g. a delivery man would do his job and no more (favourable) - offers to help on unrelated tasks (unfavourable); mindful of time and works quickly/no hurry to leave; doesn't care if others are home or expected/wants to know this fact; stands at an appropriate distance/stands too close.

As has been said - it's a difficult book to retain so I am skimming back and forth whilst I try and summarise for you!

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