Today I read my dear friend’s blog, only to discover she was mugged this week. Just about seven years ago, so was I. Reading her experience brought an uncanny reminder of my own: the way you think on your feet but also feel paralyzed at the same time; asking yourself what they really want and how long this will last; the final decision you make that gets them away from you.
And then there’s the aftermath–panicking in public, fearing others who mildly resemble your assailant, jumping at small noises.
It’s just messy and painful in all sorts of ways. How many ways, you ask? Well, here are at least four:
1. Muggers suck because they hide behind weapons. Mine had a knife, hers had a gun. The presence of the weapon makes it so hard to know if the whole thing will be quick and rational–take something valuable and run–or if they’ll take it further.
2. Mugging sucks because it can make it hard to be sensitive to other people’s pain. Because it happens to you, scares the bejeeezus out of you, worries your friends and family, the effect of the whole situation can be a focus on you. In life, all pain should open us up to all pain, but too often it causes us to turn inward and shut out the struggles of others. I find this very sad; everyone needs to be cared for in their uniquely tough times.
3. Muggers suck because you rarely know what becomes of them. There is a part of you that always wonders–do they regret what they did? Did God ever work on their heart and change them? How many other people experienced this because of this person (or people)?
4. Muggers suck because they make people ask you the worst questions ever. People ask foolish things of victims, the worst of which, in my experience was, What were you wearing? Because my outfit determines, by their logic, if I was ‘asking for it’ or not.
May I just say, friends of assault victims, that asking questions that basically try to get at why it happened can be very unhelpful. Those questions imply that the situation could have been controlled and averted if only the victim had done something different, been more heads up & alert, or worn different clothes.
I get it, I really do. We ask those questions because we want to be in control of our world, and mugging is an out of control experience. So we almost think that if we know the answers, we can avoid their fate.
But when you tell me, you should have fought, you know what I’d really like to say back? Well, considering the man with the knife told me not to run or fight, and considering he had an accomplice on the other side of me and I was backed against a 40 foot wall, it just wasn’t feasible at the moment. But next time I’ll get on that for you.
Instead, may I suggest what I personally prefer to hear, How was that for you? This question lets me tell you whatever part of my story is best–how I felt when it happened, or how I’m dealing with the jitters now perhaps.
My friend’s own post shows her fight to choose joy, just days later. In my case, if you had asked me 4 days later, I would have told you how I was praying the psalms on behalf of my attackers, but mainly the ‘break their teeth’ ones; how I was tired of hearing that it happened because I’m blonde; and how much it bugged me that people kept implying that it was because I was located abroad instead of in the U.S. (which her own story disproves.)
How was that for you? It shows me you care about my experience, and it doesn’t imply that I could have avoided it if only I would have done x, y, or z.