On a recent day I found myself being attacked several times. Before I knew it I was second-guessing every decision I was making; my mind was so distracted.
We all hate being attacked, whether it be verbally, emotionally, indirectly or situationally, or physically—worst of all, perhaps, it occurs simultaneously via/through a number of sources.
Some days even though we’re not being overtly attacked we just feel attacked—often this comes in the form of spiritual attack; an attack within our minds and hearts.
There are a number of psychological and physiological responses we make—without the remotest thought—as soon as we’re attacked and these are often hugely difficult to reconcile.
Sometimes these attacks ruin the rest of our day, week, or even longer. At the worst extreme, particularly in cases of sexual assault (although this article is not focused on this form of attack), the attack mars our indefinite future.
For the Victim of the Attack
How do we really deal with a situation when we’ve been caught out emotionally i.e. we’re already at sea!
It really is a good question without a blanket solution.
Somehow, as individuals, we must harness the moment, using our courage, to recapture the soundness of our bearing. We must rise above the emotion of the moment—ours and theirs—and give the situation some breathing space.
For the Perpetrator of the Attack
Most perpetrators—if they’re not ordinarily characterised with attacking people—are probably issuing the attack because they feel attacked themselves, even at a subconscious level. (And it probably isn’t even the victim on the other end of the attack who’s actually attacked the perpetrator—we see this a lot in authoritarian family structures; Dad attacks Mum; Mum attacks one of the children; the child attacks another sibling or a peer etc.)
At times they can possibly feel otherwise emotionally vulnerable somehow. We all have times when the emotions tip us in a particular direction—at times these cavort with us inexplicably. They torment us.
The victim should always try to consider the above couple of factors, amongst all the other possible and reasonable attributions for the perpetrator’s behaviour, if they have the emotional space to. This often helps.
A Good Solution
I don’t claim this as the best or only answer by any means, but I think it will prove effective most of the time.
The key matter at hand is stopping the conflict or attack in its tracks, restoring neutrality of emotion, by simply distracting ourselves away from the attack and the attacker. We get to a safe place.
We need to find some space and resist fighting back. After all, our fighting back is simply our inappropriate means of restoring emotional balance. The worst irony is this method (our attacking them back in response to their provoking attack) is it only escalates matters.
So, the best defence is not to fight back, but to focus on restoring emotional equilibrium. The ‘how’ of this matter is usually a personal thing—something we try and learn from trial and error, so the solution is meaningful personally.
A Final Note on Courage
Courage in relation to attack is a funny thing. When we apply courage we generally don’t feel any better—if we just want to feel better I’m afraid there are no quick fixes.
But where courage does work is it positively mitigates the issues in our emotional ‘right nows’ and it ensures things don’t get worse; so indeed they can get better quicker and the overall situation addresses itself with much better effect, generally.
Courage does not operate apart from fear—it works in the presence of fear; despite fear.
This is why courage and faith are twin virtues. One cannot exist without the other in so very many respects.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.