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The gift of fear - triggering

(61 Posts)
Italiangreyhound Fri 07-Oct-16 00:51:32

Has anyone read 'The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence (Paperback – 3 Jul 2000) by Gavin de Becker.

I got it and have not read it yet but saw this chapter posted elsewhere on Mumsnet.

I know fear is sometimes used to keep women 'in their supposed placed' but I wonder if understanding fear can help to keep us safer.

This chapter deals with a rape and may be triggering for some.

I don't want to exchange scary stories or rape details but rather to understand if learning about how or why people act (including ourselves, especially when we go against our better judgment) can help to keep us safer.

Thank you for reading and no worries if no one wants to reply.

OlennasWimple Fri 07-Oct-16 02:43:20

I haven't read the book, but I've just read the article and it sounds interesting, and I think I agree with the starting point that we need to trust our intuition more. Generally speaking, women are conditioned to say yes, and the British are conditioned to be polite, mustn't cause a fuss, don't want to upset anyone. Sometimes we need to feel confident to not care what someone might think of us if it means we keep safe

FreshwaterSelkie Fri 07-Oct-16 06:49:38

i recently read it, and would totally recommend it for a not specifically feminist read that nonetheless has a very strong feminist message. much of it is about how we, particularly women, -are socialised out of listening to our instincts and how damaging that is. since i read it, i have really tried to listen when my instinct is telling me something, and not to let it get overridden by social conditioning.

onecurrantbun1 Fri 07-Oct-16 06:57:21

I'm reading it at the moment. It's really interesting and I can identify lots of things that I do, and all my peers do, that could potentially leave us vulnerable. It is definitely a socialisation thing, not wanting to cause a scene, wanting to be "nice" a lot of the time.

WhoKnowsWhereTheTimeG0es Fri 07-Oct-16 07:00:42

I read an article about it on a FB blog recently (possibly A Mighty Girl) and clicked through to Amazon, but the reviews put me off a bit, I'm having a bit of an anxious phase at the moment and worried it wouldn't help. I've bookmarked it to read one day though.

boldlygoingsomewhere Fri 07-Oct-16 08:01:30

Just read the article and it resonated so strongly. I think I've had a couple of lucky escapes in the past - a feeling that something was 'off' about a person or situation. I was brought up to be 'good, nice, polite' and the thing which enabled me to listen to my intuition, strangely, was growing up in a family where there was an interest in alternative forms of spirituality/woo. It was acknowledged that intuition was powerful and a message from protective spirit and should be heeded. I was young at the time too and the combined effects of being polite and deferring to authority could have been enough to override that intuition if I hadn't also internalised a belief that it was important. I don't there is anything woo about intuition now - it's just part of our survival mechanism.

Italiangreyhound Fri 07-Oct-16 08:09:48

Wow excellent comments. Thanks so much.

Felascloak Fri 07-Oct-16 08:10:27

Sounds interesting! I saw a gp as a teen and was talking to him about an unpleasant incident, and my intuition that it was going to happen. He told me that I should always trust my intuition and it was there for a reason. Amazingly useful advice that I'm glad I got at such a young age.
Yes, girls are socialised so much to rationalise intuition away, it is dangerous.

scallopsrgreat Fri 07-Oct-16 09:39:38

I read it a few years ago and was shocked (as someone who wouldn't class themselves as having been in too many sexually violent situations, thankfully) at how much it resonated with me. It also brought back some memories.

I think it's so important to reinforce women's intuition and validate their feelings. Society in general overrides women's feelings in so many ways. It's a big part of feminism to help women realise that their feelings, whether its anger, resentment or fear are understandable and there for a reason.

There was a thread on here recently (I hope the OP won't mind me bringing it up) where the woman got out of a taxi because she felt uncomfortable with the driver. A number of people were telling her she was wrong and "he was just being friendly" hmm. In that chapter you've linked to, Kelly felt uncomfortable from the moment she heard the man's voice. There was a reason for that. And there was a reason the woman got out of the taxi. Well done her.

plimsolls Fri 07-Oct-16 09:46:53

That's really interesting. Thank you for sharing.

I think the message that women are socialised out of listening and acting on their instincts is so true.

plimsolls Fri 07-Oct-16 09:54:58

Another thought: I hope this idea doesn't either get misunderstood as victim blaming or used as ammunition by the victim-blamers.

ExploraDora Fri 07-Oct-16 09:55:12

I love the book - it was hugely empowering for me to see it written down that it's ok to not feel comfortable with someone and not be able to explain why, and to not have to be polite. Sounds ridiculous, but I needed to be told that because it's not what I was taught/socialised to do.

The guidance about intuition is spot on. We are so discouraged from talking about fears, especially about men, that we literally don't have the words to explain what we are feeling. I'm not a 'woo' person, but at last I understood what that feeling in my gut was - it's seeing and experiencing something that is a warning sign, but not being able to explain it in my own words. It empowered me hugely.

Elendon Fri 07-Oct-16 11:50:35

I did read this book and then went online for the survey which reported that I must never trust my ex partner. I ignored it, because he was such a smooth talking operator.

I've decided now that he deserves prison. Making the second appointment with the solicitor as I write this, she said, that without a doubt, he will go to prison and do I want this. I will be seen as a bitter ex, but he cannot leech on me any longer.

shins Fri 07-Oct-16 13:23:12

I read it a while ago, it made perfect sense to me. Women in particular are socialised to ignore their instincts and it's good to discuss it. I'm better at it now but had a couple of near-misses when I was younger, as I think we all have.

Prawnofthepatriarchy Fri 07-Oct-16 13:42:15

The most striking part of that article to me is the figures the author produces on violent crime in America. Scary fucking place. It tickles me that Americans assume everyone wants to live there. I don't.

Intuition is so important. When I was younger I almost deliberately ignored it. Thought I was being unfair to be wary of men. I once met a guy in a pub who turned out to be a friend of a friend. He told me he was living in a squat which was great but no bath. He really missed having a bath. Now I know he was priming me but I thought offering a bath at my place was my idea, although I wasn't taken with this bloke. I interpreted my discomfort as a form of snobbery. We were in my kitchen, he was about to go run the bath, when a man friend of mine dropped by.

My new visitor reacted instantly. He was extremely decisive. "Get out of here this instant and don't come back you creep," was the sense of what he said. Afterwards he read me a little lecture about sexual predators. I thought he was being mean until he pointed out that once the other bloke was in the bathroom he was entitled to be naked in my flat, which made any attack on me far easier and exposing himself a doddle. I felt so stupid. Since then I don't care if I'm being unfair. I feel uncomfortable for a reason. It's wise to notice feelings that somehow something is not quite right.

OlennasWimple Fri 07-Oct-16 14:22:57

Elendon flowers

Chipsahoy Fri 07-Oct-16 19:55:34

I have read half of it. I struggle to read, dissociation stuff, but half way through and will go back to it. I think every woman should read it. We are socially conditioned to ignore our instincts. A very British thing to be polite to the point of putting ourselves in danger and also what is expected of us as young girls, teens then women. It's crap. It's wrong and if i had daughters of ensure they read this.
Trust yourself. Trust your instincts. You are an expert on you.

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Fri 07-Oct-16 20:58:10

I think it's an excellent book.
The 'trust your instincts' message is worth listening to even in situations where violence isn't involved - if I had listened to my intuition instead of beating it back I wouldn't have been conned out of £500 by the dodgy drain survey man! All my misgivings were perfectly rational.
I have a friend who had a house fire which she discovered in time because she untypically went to check for a towel she had left downstairs. She thinks her survival was due to woo, I think her subconscious had picked up lots of cues about something being wrong.

Myownperson Sat 08-Oct-16 10:29:25

That extract is really interesting.

I posted a while ago when I thought I was irrationally scared of a delivery man.
(No dramatic story). My first thought was I was silly, to ignore my instincts. But I haven't ordered from that restaurant since. I have had takeaways. I havent been scared of a delivery man since, I am not nervous at night.

Who knows but in hindsight there is a difference between living in fear and paying attention to sensible instincts.

"For some reason the way the delivery man lingered and looked at me and called me darling has completely creeped me out. Stupid. it was nothing. He was probably just being nice, at worst a little flirty. But it's dark.
Strangers doing scary things is actually really rare isn't it? I really need to get a grip.
I'm overanalysing that he knows i order for one.
Grip needed!"

Italiangreyhound Sat 08-Oct-16 13:28:37

Scallops and all, great posts.

Plimpsolss I think men have intuition too, so no one female or male could or should be blamed when a violent act takes place.

If we can avoid a situation by listening to an inner fear that is great, but we will never know if we did for sure (or rarely know) but I believe in better safe than sorry.

gonetoseeamanaboutadog Sat 08-Oct-16 13:40:34

I think women are often encouraged to view fear as submission to male oppression - and consequently are less likely to listen to their fear and take a 'prudent' course of action because they have been told that it won't make them any safer since stranger rape makes up a tiny proportion of sexual assault.

FreshwaterSelkie Sat 08-Oct-16 19:25:40

I completely disagree, gone. You make it sound as if it is feminism that make women scared of men.

It's men who make women fear men.

Women are encouraged to view fear as irrational, overwrought, hysterical, disproportionate. You're not supposed to say you're afraid of the friend of a friend, or the delivery driver, or the taxi driver, or any of the other men who women say have made their spidey senses tingle on this very thread, because it is rude and you might hurt an innocent man's feelings. Women are socialised to put other people's feelings, particularly men's, above their own, and doing this can put us in terrible danger because we're told that our instincts are wrong. If you haven't understood that from the linked article, or from having read this book, then you really haven't grasped the point of this thread.

Dozer Sat 08-Oct-16 20:31:27

Read it at 21 and recommended it to friends. it struck a chord, eg socialisation to be "nice".

Italiangreyhound Sat 08-Oct-16 22:04:44

I don't think it is 'just' rape Cuba stranger that intuition can help to save us from. I think it is also from getting caught up with the wrong man, or getting into a relationship with wrong person, or being the victim if a scam etc. And so think men and women can both tune into it. Especially, for men it could be to back down from a fight which could leave you on a coma!

Italiangreyhound Sat 08-Oct-16 22:07:41

by a....not Cuba!

The reason I do think it is especially relevant to women is we are sometimes shamed for not wanting to give a random man the benefit of the doubt!

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