When I was in Chicago last month, I discovered that I was living with a troubling fear. Being an amputee woman has made me more fearful, causing me to miss out on opportunities. I have been thinking about the impact of the fear on my life. I am not happy with what I have realized.
In general, I think that women tend to be cognizant of the possible dangers lurking in their surroundings. A fear of being attacked has been ingrained in many of us since childhood. Analyzing the environment for potential dangers is second nature. In many ways, being proactive about safety is natural. Did you know that the leading cause of death for pregnant women is homicide? I find that a terrifying statistic!
Since my amputation, my awareness of environmental dangers has skyrocketed. I am a more desirable target for an assailant because of my disability. I am not able to run away as quickly because my sense of balance is compromised. Simply put, I am more vulnerable.
When I was in Chicago, I wanted to explore the city. I was looking forward to "playing tourist" and experiencing the culture. Unfortunately, the reality of not knowing the environment and my fear of being a target combined to keep me within the walls of the hotel.
Although I wish I had mustered the courage to explore, I don't doubt my judgment. The reality remains that the amputee woman is as a great risk for assault. According to some startling statistics, one in eleven amputee women will be the victim of a physical assault within their lifetime. The risk for a non-disabled woman is one in forty. Still too high!
Thinking about my situation I have come to a decision. Some variables are not going to change. I am always going to be an amputee, and I have no desire to stop being a woman. My risk of being attacked will always be greater. I can either spend the rest of my life living in fear and missing out on opportunities, or I can change.
I want to rediscover my sense of adventure. I want to be carefree in new environments. I want to feel safe, whether I am in a big city or walking through my neighborhood with Robby. The world is not going to change; dangers will always be present. I need to learn new skills.
I am signing up for a self-defense course. I have taken self-defense classes before, but the circumstances were different. For starters, I had two legs. I am sure that the maneuvers will be slightly different now that I am using a prosthetic.
In college, my roommate Tammy and I took a self-defense course for PE credit. We weren't necessarily interested in learning protection skills. We were drawn to the notion of taking our frustrations out by kicking men in the crotch. Neither of us took the class seriously.
After graduation, I convinced Tammy to take karate classes. We were both single, and I sure that the class would be a prime place to meet eligible men. I reasoned that they had to be employed in order to pay for the classes. I was hopeful that the men were probably single because of the time commitment required by the classes. I was correct on both assumptions.
Unfortunately most of the men didn't like working with either of us. We giggled too much. We were yelled at on more than one occasion for talking when the instructor was speaking. Our make-up rubbed off on the white uniforms of our classmates leaving them with foundation and lipstick stains. Eventually, I abandoned my hopes of finding love in Karate when my pants split, exposing my Donald Duck panties to the entire class. That was our last class.
This time my motivation for taking a self-defense course is genuine. I want, no, I need to learn to protect myself. I need to have the skills to save myself from injury should I be assaulted. I need to know that I can defend not only myself, but Robby as well.
I am hopeful that, as I master defense skills, my confidence will increase. I no longer want to be paralyzed by fear. I no longer want to hide because I'm too afraid to explore. I no longer want my fears to dictate my activities. I want my free spirited, confident and adventurous life back.
- I am a below knee amputee. More importantly, I am also Mommy to two boys, a very active 10 year old (Robby) and an mischievous toddler (Timmy). I have learned that being a parent with a disability can create some unusual and sometimes humorous situations. This blogger is available for hire! Let's talk and learn how a blog can expand your business.