– Episode Nine –

Verbal Self Defense

About The Empowerment Podcast

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In this podcast, created as a platform to teach you everything she knows about self-defense, join host Silvia Smart in this safe space. With over three decades on the frontlines, she’ll give you skills and knowledge for your self-defense toolkit so you can live your most fearless and empowered life. Research proves that empowerment self-defense programs work. Participants are less fearful, more aware of their boundaries, and are able to speak up sooner when faced with manipulative or threatening situations. Furthermore, for those who have experienced trauma in the past, evidence shows that empowerment self-defense training can interrupt the cycle of violence and decrease the likelihood of a future assault.

Other Episodes You Might Like...

The Empowerment Podcast – Episode 53

Stephanie Cyr has started an Empowerment Self Defense Program at SFSU that is rolling out in the Fall of 2024! In this episode, she’ll tell us all about it, share a wonderful self-defense success story and so much more. Our wide-ranging conversation covers how great it will be when we can make ESD a standardized course offering in all public schools and how ESD can impact health, along with positivity and lots of hope for the future of this movement.

The Empowerment Podcast – Episode 52

Success Story – Complying & Playing Along

Did you know that complying and playing along are essential tools you already have in your toolkit? It can help us buy time to get help or get to safety. Join host Silvia Smart as she shares how one person “played along” to stop an attempted rape and get to safety.

Our stories are important. YOUR stories are important! Consider sharing your story with me and with my listeners.

The Empowerment Podcast – Episode 51

Host Silvia Smart and author Lauren Taylor discuss this newly released book which is an excellent resource for everyone – those interested in empowerment, in self-defense and instructors of ESD as well. Join Silvia and Lauren as they do some of the exercises in the book and chat about the ins and outs of this fascinating publication worthy of a read!

The Empowerment Podcast – Episode 48

Finding Empowerment within the Upsetting Context of Mass Shootings – an Interview with SAC Kieran Ramsey, FBI Portland

There’s a clear uptick in mass shootings across the country leading to lots of fear, confusion and anguish. Who better to talk to than the FBI? Join me and my guest, Special Agent in Charge of the Portland FBI, Kieran Ramsey.

We discuss how regular people like you and me can help prevent mass shootings and play a role in stopping this disturbing cycle of violence. (Hint: it will not make the news.) We discuss the ins and outs, ups and downs of knowing what to look for, fact versus myth, reporting, planning, preparation and yes, believe it or not, empowerment!

Many thanks to SAC Ramsey for sharing his experience and wisdom as we negotiate the complex landscape we all live in right now.

Please share this episode far and wide. Together, we can create a kinder and safer world, one relationship at a time. We’ve got this!

Resources Mentioned in this Episode:
• Call 911
• Call Your Local Non-Emergency Police Phone Number: Directory by City
• Report to the FBI
• Contact Your Local FBI Field Office
• FBI Phone #: 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324)

Connect with Silvia
Trauma Informed Active Shooter Trainings with Silvia

Special thanks to my editor, Henry Smart-Denson

The Empowerment Podcast – Episode 47

Folks, Florida is on the front lines right now. There are huge safety concerns brought on by the cruel laws, restrictions, rhetoric, and policies of Ron DeSantis and his friends that are affecting many people. Because of this, Equality Florida, along with the NAACP and the League of United Latin American Citizens, have all issued travel advisories for the State of Florida.

I wanted to find out more and am thrilled to introduce you to Brandon Wolf, the Press Secretary of Equality Florida.

In April 2023, Brandon’s organization, Equality Florida warned against traveling to the state of Florida for folks in the LGBTQ+ community saying it could be risky and potentially unsafe. The warning says: “Taken in their totality, Florida’s slate of laws and policies targeting basic freedoms and rights pose a serious risk to the health and safety of those traveling to the state.”
The League of United Latin American Citizens issued its own warning, saying bluntly: “Traveling to Florida is dangerous.” The advisory goes on to say travel in Florida “can be unsafe for people of color, individuals who speak with an accent, and international travelers,” and people in those groups could face “a heightened risk of harassment, possible detainment, and potential family separation based on racial profiling.”

From the New York Times: The NAACP became the latest to issue a travel advisory to the Sunshine State, warning that Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’s “aggressive attempts to erase Black history and to restrict diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in Florida schools” have turned the state into an openly hostile place for people of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Before traveling to Florida, please understand that the state of Florida devalues and marginalizes the contributions of, and the challenges faced by African Americans and other communities of color.”

The Empowerment Podcast – Episode 46

Denial, Safety, and Empowerment – If we’re gonna talk about Empowerment Self Defense, we have to talk about denial. When talking with survivors of sexual assault and survivors of other types of relational violence it is common to hear that the survivor had a funny feeling something was wrong but then doubted themselves or rationalized or minimized their intuition and flat out ignored it. This is called denial.

Denial can put us at risk and because of that, breaking through denial in all the ways it manifests in our lives keeps us safer. Period. Looking at and talking about denial is directly connected to empowerment self-defense AND to our safety as we walk through the world.

The Empowerment Podcast – Episode 45

Meet Jill Shames, Empowerment Self Defense Instructor. Listen in as she and host, Silvia Smart, share a few self-defense success stories and talk about all the things the survivors did RIGHT! Find out why they recommend a perspective shift as you think through your own experiences! You are strong and powerful and Jill and Silvia believe in you!

The Empowerment Podcast – Episode 44

Meet Lauren Taylor who has been working to end gender-based violence since 1978, when she co-founded Washington, D.C.’s first shelter for abused women. As an empowerment self-defense teacher and founder-director of Defend Yourself, she’s trained more than 35,000 people in the D.C. area and elsewhere in the U.S. She’s also trained dozens of trainers around the country and around the world.

Join us as we find out more about Lauren and what makes her tick. Learn about the book she co-authored with Nadia Telsey, which will be published in the fall! Importantly, follow the links here to learn how to pre-order the book and support this important work!

The Empowerment Podcast – Episode 43

I Survived a Cult
Join host Silvia Smart as she shares pieces of her journey to empowerment and survival from a cult-like martial arts system. Listen to the red flags that crop up around these dysfunctional and sometimes dangerous systems and people.

Cults and charismatic leaders with ill intent are everywhere – Qanon, NXIVM, Scientology, and The Children of God, are just a few examples. Cults and narcissistic, manipulative, and sociopathic leaders exist within conspiratorial cultures, churches, and spiritual groups. People get stuck in these systems – especially when they are vulnerable. Learn the signs so you can protect yourself and stay safe.

Audio Transcription

Introduction

This podcast is brought to you by the empowerment project.

Research proves that empowerment self-defense training makes you safer period. I want you to have a great self-defense toolkit so you can create strong boundaries, speak with confidence, and take up all the space that you deserve in the world.

We’ll hear stories from survivors and find out what worked for them and why. We’ll interview leaders in the field and talk about tips, concepts, and really easy things that you can do to make yourself safer and interrupt the cycle of violence.

I’ve taught self-defense classes for over 30 years and I promise to teach you everything I know!

Ultimately, I’m going to want you to get some in-person training, but a great empowerment self-defense class is more than just the physical skills. The list of things I want to teach you is endless, so let’s get to it.

My name is Silvia Smart, and welcome to the empowerment project.

I’m so glad you’re here! Welcome.

Hi! Welcome back!

 

In the last episode, we talked all about the voice and the various ways we can use it, hone it, and rely on it. Today, I want to talk about the actual words we use and how we can create safety through their application as a self-defense tool. Of all the tools, the voice and our verbal self-defense can go the farthest to prevent unwanted attention and situations. As with all of empowerment self-defense, we’re also going to look at the multitude of ways words can impact the quality of our lives and the way we walk through the world, which keeps us safer. I’ll give you examples, stories to illustrate the strategies and solid suggestions for practicing so you can get really good at this.

Self Defense Story

A long time ago, I had a job that I really loved. At the time, the minimum wage was about $4/hour. Yet, for some reason, I agreed to be paid $1/hour. Seriously. I did. I wanted the job that badly. Eventually, I got a little raise. And eventually, I got another raise. But I worked a lot. I held down other jobs and cleaned lots of people’s houses so that I could make ends meet.

My choice, but it wasn’t easy.

The job slowly became harder. Not because of the scope of the work or the difficulty of the work, but because the quality of the work environment became more and more dysfunctional and ultimately, was toxic for me. I still believed in the work I was doing and still wanted to be doing it in spite of everything.

After years, I came to realize that I needed to be paid a living wage and at long last, after putting up with an awful lot, I admitted to myself that I was going to have to ask for a raise.

I didn’t want to ask for a raise. I was afraid. The environment had gotten so toxic that I was scared I would lose my job or that my boss would be mad at me and then treat me even worse than what was happening already.

You are probably wondering why I would put up with this? It’s a good question! And one day I’ll tell you all about it. 

It was finally time to ask for the raise so I set up a meeting. You’ve heard this term: fake it till you make it? Well, that’s what I did. It’s what I teach. If you have something to say, if you need to speak up to be seen, heard, respected and appreciated and you are scared, do it anyway! This is empowerment. And sometimes, we have to pretend or “fake it” until we believe it in our heart of hearts.

So I did that. I went in to talk with my boss and her henchman. I pretended I felt strong and secure and I asked for a raise with a voice that didn’t even shake. I was really proud of myself. The ending might or might not surprise you, but you know me, I’ll tell you the end of the story after we talk all about verbal self-defense and verbal self-defense strategies!

Verbal Self Defense Strategies:

Here’s the first one!

NO!

When we are talking about words, there is one word. The most self-defense-y word EVER. This word is a full sentence unto itself. And that, simply, is NO! This one word has the capacity to change your life.

If you are a people pleaser, like we’ve talked about before, or if your tendency is to be timid or shy, or if you ever allow yourself to be treated like a doormat, pushed around, dismissed or taken for granted, I guarantee you this word will set you free!

Take a deep breath!

Now say it with me: NO!

Again: NO!

Again: NO!

You can say NO with volume or without. You can say it in a high voice or a low voice. You can say it with a smile or a look of intensity. You can say it kindly or with force. This one word though, no matter how you say it, forges freedom for you and the space to create self-determination and the empowerment of you having choices.

I dare you to practice! I ask my students to practice – which is often met with titters and uncomfortable looks and jokes. But I mean it. Practice saying NO!

Say it three times a day for this entire week. Even if you don’t mean it. No laughing, no apologies, just NO! And then take a deep breath, be quiet, and see what happens. Does the world stop turning on its axis? Does everyone in your life suddenly get angry at you? Does anyone even notice or care? Will you, can you survive? Most of the time, when students tell me about their experience, what I hear is that no one died, no one cried, no one threw shade or started yelling. Mostly, the “No” was met with a shrug and acceptance, leaving my students to wonder “what took me so long?!”

Try it! Then go to the FB Group: The Empowerment Project and tell us how it goes!

Stop saying Please and Thank you so much!!!

Just like I want you to say NO more often, I want you to think about how often and in what contexts you say PLEASE and THANK YOU. “Please” is a polite word. A word to use when you are making a request of someone or asking a question. “Which way is the grocery store, please?” or, “May I please have some more salad?”

Thank you is also polite. It shows your acknowledgment, or gratitude. “Thanks for the compliment!” or, “No thank you, I’ve had enough salad. It was delicious!”

I grew up saying “Please” – and “Thank you”. There is nothing wrong with either! Some of us say these words a LOT and without much thought. Unconsciously. We use them inappropriately or as a way of being submissive or pleasing. As a way to be deferential, to not take up too much space, to take care of other people’s feelings. Almost as an apology.

How do you use the word, “Please”? How often do you find yourself thanking people? What is the context when you say “please” and “thank you”? How do you feel when you say these words? Sometimes it might feel very clearly like you are being polite. Sometimes, though, if you are really and truly honest with yourself, you might notice that you have some other motivation. THAT is what I want you to be aware of, it is those times that matter in the life of an empowered person.

Once again, just to be clear, there is nothing wrong with saying “please” and “thank you”. What does matter is your motivation. Your real and authentic reason for using these words within the context of the situation.

Someone touches my butt and I say, “don’t do that, please!”

I’m at a restaurant eating a meal by myself and the person at the next table keeps trying to engage me in conversation which I don’t want, asking me too many personal questions which I just don’t want to answer. After multiple evasion techniques I say, “I just want to eat quietly, thanks!”

It’s not that it’s wrong to say “please” and “thank you” in either of these situations. These words though, in this context, can take away from your power, your clarity, and your intention if they aren’t warranted. They almost disqualify what you are saying. Think about how much stronger your words would be if you don’t worry about being polite, taking care of someone else’s feelings, or being pleasing or demur.

Someone touches my butt and I say “Don’t do that!” Period.

To the person at the next table who’s not taking the hint and leaving me alone, I say, “I am not interested in a conversation right now.” Period.

We are looking at making sure you are “less selectable”, right? Bypassing the testing process and not being the one who is picked. Getting rid of these niceties can go a really long way towards strengthening your message and giving your words the backbone they deserve! You deserve!

There are a couple of other words to name. If Please and Thank you take first and second place, these two phrases get honorable mention.

“Excuse me”.

“I’m sorry!”

Here are some examples:

Someone touches my butt and my default is to say, “Excuse me!” As if it’s my fault!

Or the example at the restaurant with the person not getting the hint and I say “Oh! Sorry! I just don’t feel like talking right now. Sorry!”  Yep, sometimes we even say it twice!

I hope you can hear that your message is much stronger when you don’t disqualify it with the polite, people-pleasing, and caretaking words and phrases. Again, it’s not that I’m recommending that you never use them. What I’m suggesting is that you employ them more consciously. 

Don’t get me wrong, when you begin this process, IT WILL FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE! That does not mean it’s wrong. Or bad. What it means is that you are trying something new. You are being aware and making choices, noticing habits and deciding how you want to handle them! And if you are anything like me, it might take some time, but uncomfortable stretches you into empowerment! And THAT is very awesome and worth the trouble!

I like to warn my students: When you use verbal self-defense, EXPECT BLOWBACK. We’ve talked about this before too on this podcast. Chances are good that when you change your behavior or set a new boundary, you are going to get a reaction. Some (not all!) of the people in your life might not like it! If you always wash the dishes, put them away, and clean the kitchen, your roommates might be kinda pissy when you speak up and ask them to do their part. You will know who the healthy, emotionally balanced people are in your life because they will understand your new boundaries, or at the least, will be able to talk with you about them.

Let’s keep going and talk about verbal self-defense strategies…

STRATEGIES

Super Direct

This is a great strategy. This one changed my life. It takes a bit of practice to start to feel comfortable with it, but it’s worth it! It’s got some flexibility, you can do it a couple of different ways, and you can always, as with all the verbal strategies, use words that you would normally use. Put this stuff into language that feels right to you.

This strategy asks you to do three things:

  1. Name the behavior, whatever it is that is happening.
  2. Criticize the behavior – and this is important – criticize the behavior, not the person. When you make a judgement about the person, that tends to just piss them off.
  3. Tell them what you want them to do – give them a command.

Examples:

“Your hand is on my knee. I don’t like it. Take it off.”

“You’re asking me too many personal questions. That makes me uncomfortable. Stop it!”

“You came into my room without knocking. That sucks. Knock next time.”

This is a strategy that works when you practice it and think it through. It’s great if there is a situation you face every day or every week and you know it’s coming up. You ride the subway to work every day and there is always the same person who gets on at one of the stops before you. They always take up three seats with their splayed legs and all the bags and briefcases they carry. As the subway gets more crowded, they don’t move their stuff. So you think about what you want to say. And you practice and rehearse it in your head or with a friend. “You are taking up three seats. The subway is crowded. Be a pal and move your stuff.” NOW a word here about please and thank you. This might be a time where, especially since you don’t know this person, you can give them the benefit of the doubt and use “please”. That’s ok. That’s your choice. What feels right to you? What words feel authentic? Do that!

The idea here is to start with something easy… Practice it with a friend. Get some success under your belt, so to speak, and then try it again. This time on a situation that is more challenging.

This time, let’s take your boss. Your boss makes sexual comments to you. Ick. One of the things I really like about this strategy is that it’s great on the lower end of the spectrum and with people you know and have to deal with again. You are calling out the behavior and setting up your boundary, but you can play with tone and volume and all the other stuff we talked about to keep it professional or courteous, or whatever. To my boss, I say, “That sexual comment makes me uncomfortable. Stop.”

AND HERE’S SOMETHING IMPORTANT – The redirect! This is where, if you are going to have to deal with this person in the future, you can help them save face – but only if you want to! Let me show you what I mean.

Same situation, but this time with a redirect: To my boss, I say, “That sexual comment makes me uncomfortable. Stop. Now, what were you saying about the project?”

So slick! I love the redirect. It totally takes the heat off you – and again – especially if this is a context in which you have to regularly see this person.

And this is a choice. You might have already chosen to talk to HR. You might choose to deal with it another way. This is just an example, K? 

This strategy works great on the lower end of the spectrum. It helped me, when I first started using it, because I had to 1. Call out the behavior which meant I had to notice it and identify it. 2. I had to figure out how that made me feel or what it was about the behavior that was out of bounds. And 3, then I had to be really clear and give a command. This was not easy to do without saying please, but I recommend it when you can!

And as a nod to a dear friend who is also a self-defense teacher, I’m going to give you the out of not saying the middle part.

For example, “Your hand is on my knee, take it off” is plenty. You really don’t have to say “I don’t like it”.

Another Verbal Self-Defense Strategy

NO – we talked about this! As a reminder, you are going to say NO three times a day for a week! Even if it would be just as easy to say “Yes”!

The reason why I want you to do this, to say NO even when it would be just as easy to say YES, is for a very specific reason. I want you to practice saying NO when it feels UNCOMFORTABLE! You practice saying one of the most important words in our toolkit while feeling awkward and uncomfortable. Therefore, when you need it, when you need to call on all the power of “NO!” you will have already pushed through the challenge of saying it when it feels awkward and weird and uncomfortable and you will know that you can do it!

Another Strategy with a great story!

Broken Record – This is where you pick a word or a phrase and you repeat it. You just say it over and over and over again. This is a great strategy when you are dealing with a person who is high, or angry or is experiencing a psychotic episode. Often times, they don’t hear the word or phrase the first time, or the second or even the third, fourth or fifth. But at some point, it will probably connect. A side note, I really like this strategy because once you land on a word or phrase that feels right, you don’t have to be creative. You just say the same damn thing over and over. 

Here’s a story to illustrate this strategy. My friend, Jessica, was coming home from a walk. She heard yelling and screaming and as she approached her house, she saw her next-door neighbor running out into the street covered in blood having been hit by her spouse. Another neighbor, from a different house, was leaning out the window shouting that help was on the way. But meanwhile, the bloody neighbor was sobbing because her husband was holding her baby and wouldn’t let her have it and she was really scared of what he might do. 

Jess, as she tells the story, was scared and trembling. A martial artist, being no stranger to self-defense or to fighting for that matter, takes a deep breath. She marches right up to the guy holding the baby and says, “Give her back the baby.”  

Remember what I said about being ready to get “blowback”? Well, the guy laughed at her and said, “What, are you going to try to MAKE me?” And Jess just stood there and repeated: “Give her back the baby.”  “Give her back the baby.”  “Give her back the baby.”  “Give her back the baby.”  The guy, confused, ultimately handed her the baby!

Jess is an excellent storyteller and I’m not sure I did justice to her story. Jess is still out there teaching empowerment self-defense and you can find her in our FB group, The Empowerment Project. Be sure to join us there and ask her for more stories! In fact, we’ll have to have her here, on the podcast sometime and hear more! 

De-escalation – is another verbal strategy. It’s way more than just a verbal strategy though it has a verbal component. I recently went through a training in de-escalation. We’ll have to do a whole podcast on this strategy! There are lots of different pieces to this strategy, but the basic idea is that you are confronted with someone who’s energy is escalated and it feels out of control. It feels scary and threatening. Often, your best bet, like any good self-defense, is just to get away.

But there might be some times when it’s less threatening and you decide the situation calls for you to talk them down, or you can’t get away and de-escalation is your best bet. It’s a way of listening and holding space until this person can calm down. All the while, if you need to, you are buying time and looking for a way to get away. 

Humor. Cracking jokes or finding humor, making light of a situation that lands somewhere on the lower end of the continuum of sexual assault and violence can work. And sometimes it doesn’t work. Or it’s not a great option because it buys you time but doesn’t actually make you safer. But I’ve experienced and heard of plenty of times when a little laughter lightens things up just enough that a person can get away. Or provides an opening for a good dose of boundary setting.

Lie – Just BS. A lie is always an option. My roommate is on their way home. My dad is waiting for me. I’m with those people over there. I just had lunch, I’m not hungry. Whatever the situation calls for. A lie is a tad tricky because you want to make sure it’s realistic and if you are going to see this person again, they might find out you lied – which might or might not be OK. It depends and you are the only person who can make that call. 

I’m going to tell you a story which takes place in a very remote part of Alaska. Our hero is home alone. Miles from any other home. Their spouse is out of town for a few weeks and their best friend comes over out of the blue “just to make sure everything is ok.” This situation quickly turns into an attempted rape. Our hero is being forced onto the ground and thinking quickly says, “Hey, slow down! What makes you think I don’t want this? That it has to be this way? I’m actually really into you. I want this. But I’d feel better about it if I could take a quick shower. You don’t mind, do you?” Surprised but pleased, the assailant lets go and hero hops up with a big smile, goes into the bedroom, locks the door and calls the nearest neighbor who comes over to help. THIS is crafty. This is an example of what a lie can look like.

Here’s another one: A college student parks their car a little way away from their dorm. As they step out of the car, they find a gun pointed at them with an assailant who says, “Give me all your money!” Thinking fast, our hero says, “I just went to the bank earlier. All my money is in my dorm room. I’ll go get it for you!” And the attacker says, “OK!” And they run into the dorm, lock the door and call for help. 

Commands: A verbal command is, besides the word NO!, one of the most simple verbal self-defense strategie. Period.

Stop!

Go Away!

Leave me alone!

You pick a phrase and you practice saying it with gumption. Then, when and if you need it, you’ve got it close at hand. Pick a couple. Practice. Repeat.

Rote phrases:

STOP

NO

I DON’T WANT TO HEAR IT

LEAVE ME ALONE

BACK UP

THIS DOESN’T FEEL GOOD

I CHANGED MY MIND

I DON’T LIKE THIS

(with kids I DON’T HAVE TO. YOU CAN’T MAKE ME)

Practice

I want you to practice. I really do. If you can get away on your own someplace and just say these phrases out loud, over and over again, do it. If you can’t say them out loud, because you don’t have a lot of privacy or space, maybe you can whisper them with intention and feeling. I want these to be easy for you to grab out of your toolkit. Easy to access, not a lot of thought. They are tried and true and can cover most any situation.

Planning and Preparation

if you know you are going into a situation, practice with friends beforehand. Write the words down, memorize them, role play with your friends. Say them in your office, your car, the shower, or while you are on a walk. Be prepared with the words. Have a tough situation coming up? A tough phone call? Have your response ready. Memorize parts of it, go into it with three main points you’ll be able to remember. Whatever it takes.

Verbal Self-defense takes practice. It takes practice and repetition. It takes role-playing and support from people who love you.

But as with most things, with practice, it gets easier and easier and easier until it becomes second nature. This is what I want for you. A verbal self-defense arsenal in your toolkit! You’ll practice scenarios, by the way, in your empowerment self-defense class! But meanwhile, get to work! This is really life-changing stuff!

As with all of the tools in our toolkit, if one of your verbal strategies is not working, you’ll know fairly quickly and you can pivot to something else.

End of Success Story

It’s time for the end of my story. As you will recall, there I am being really brave, asking for a raise so that I can quit a few of my other jobs and maybe even think about saving some money or having a family one day. And I’m proud of myself because my voice isn’t shaking even though I’m dying inside.

At that moment, by the way, just so you know what is going on in my head, and why I’ve allowed myself to agree to this unhealthy work situation, I am thinking, I am believing that I really don’t deserve a raise. Not because I was asking for too much, because I was only asking to be paid minimum wage.

Not because of my work ethic – I was a workaholic and often worked not just through the workweek, but on the weekends as well, knowing I was not to put those hours on any timesheet.

I didn’t think I was unworthy of a raise because I didn’t do a good job. I prided myself on being the best I could be. There was a reason I was the one they asked to do more projects, to add extra hours to my workload. I got things done.

Not because the work I did wasn’t important, I felt it was super important and that I was helping change the world and make it a better place.

No, I felt that I didn’t really deserve a raise because deep inside, I was kind of broken. I believed, deep down, that I was unlovable, was not valuable, was not good enough for anything. Was unworthy. And because of that, I’d allowed myself to be used and yes, I’d even say, abused.

So I did it, I asked for a raise. My boss and her henchman first looked surprised. I remember this clear as day. Then they looked taken aback and then, offended. Then they looked pissed. And they said “NO WAY! You need to consider very carefully what you are asking.

Even though I was shaking inside, I asked again!

And my boss said, “Well, you’re not getting it so I guess you need to quit”. So I did. And that was that.

You might wonder how I can call this a success story when I ended up not getting what I wanted? I didn’t get what I thought I wanted, but I did get exactly what I needed.

And that was my life back. My self-confidence back, my self-esteem and joy back. That place was so bad for me. It was so toxic and dysfunctional! There were zillions of reasons why I should have left many years earlier but didn’t. One day, I’ll tell you my story and how this piece of it fits in. But that will be for another day. For now, suffice it to say that this was the end of that era in my life, and the moment when I really started to see how I let people use me and hurt me. I stepped up to the plate and even though I was scared, even though I didn’t really believe yet that I deserved it, I knew it was the right thing to do. I asked for what I wanted and I got the information I needed to turn my life around.

This empowerment stuff? It is deep.

I’m a living breathing example of a person who has slowly, sometimes painfully, evolved. From the beginnings of feeling insignificant and unworthy, I have grown into a human being who feels deeply that I belong and am good. That I am worthy of respect and of consideration. I believe that I am worth protecting. Just like I believe that about you. 

As humans, we are neither less than nor greater than, anybody else. This is my belief. No matter the color of our hair, our eyes, or our skin. No matter how much money we make or how little. No matter how young, no matter how old. No matter where we live or what country we are from. No matter who we choose to love. No matter what religion we call ourselves part of or whether we don’t. We are human beings worthy of respect. Worthy of protecting.

When I see people being subservient, it drives me nuts. You do not need to bow down before any other human being. No one is better than or less than you.

For today, let’s close with this. You are worth protecting and I am so glad you are here with me today. Thank you for listening all the way through. I hope you always have words and that your voice is loud and clear and that you use it to sing out the deepest parts of your soul. Because YOU, my dear friend, are an incredible human being. See you next time.

Wrap Up

And it’s affirmation time. This is how I end every self-defense class. It’s kind of cheesy, but it’s very cool. And this is how it works. We’re going to do like a little call and response. If you can say this out loud. If you can repeat after me, do it because it’s important, I think, for you to hear your own voice. But if you can’t, like if you’re on a crowded subway or someplace where It’s embarrassing, don’t worry, you can also just say it inside your head. Okay, so I’m going to say something and you’re going to repeat it after me. I’m going to give you space to do that. And at the end, we’re going to say “YES”! Here we go.

Repeat after me.

I am worth protecting.

I love myself.

I belong.

I deserve to take up space on planet Earth.

I am a strong and powerful person.

Yes!

And hey, as a wrap up, will you do me a favor? Will you do all the things that you do when there’s a podcast like, will you tell your friends, will you subscribe? Will you come back each week? Communicate with me? Review this podcast? Will you please do all the things to help get more bandwidth, help more people find out about this podcast? That would be super awesome!

Take a deep breath. You are amazing. Thank you for being with me. See you next time.