I have been asked to write somewhat concerning those things that are important, as mentioned on the initial page of this website. I will address a few. However, some things in my life are just too difficult to put into words at the moment.
Rape Awareness and Women’s Self-defense are topics I have sought to teach for years. When my 2 daughters were young, I was typically overprotective while pretending that I did not worry as much as I did. I guess, like most fathers, I sought to have my 2 girls, then young women “safe”, thereafter enlisting them to assist in teaching their peers. It paid off one night as my eldest daughter had to confront a young man who was insistent on taking her girlfriend to the parking lot. So much so, that he picked up the young lady and draped her over his shoulder and began to leave. While my daughter was proud of her standing up to the young man, she did regret calling him (as she put it) a “bad name.” The young man was a brown belt in the town we were in and his father the Judo coach. In front of the whole school he had to back down. My daughter said she would not permit him to take her friend and had no doubt she could handle the young man.
Kirk Koskella tells Lisa’s story
Some years ago a beautiful young woman found the courage to seek self-defense training with me. She already had perfect kicks, awesome hands techniques and the speed to repel any attacker. Her name was Lisa and she came to me because her school did not believe in making contact. She couldn’t hit back. She didn’t know how.
I don’t know where she got the courage, but she was able to come into my school and say “look I need help; I need to know how to hit”. Lisa was a rape victim. Lisa found the courage to survive. Basically, her family and friends told her to just “get over it”. People don’t realize the damage it does to someone when they say to them, “Get over it!” They say things like, “I took a course in college and so I know what she is going through,” but you can’t know – not when you’ve never experienced such a personalized level of devastation a victim has to deal with. And it isn’t only physical rape.
Kirk Koskella tells of another struggle
There was a man that came in who was a Vietnam veteran. Whenever a Vietnam vet came in (back in the early 80′s) I would not let them get on the mat with anybody but me. You see, nine out of every 10 guys, I’d have to knock out because they’d have a flashback at some time during class and just go crazy.
One man did and I popped him as quick as I could. As I lowered him to the ground, I cradled him in my arms like he was a baby. He just cried and cried because he was only 17 when his trauma had happened. He was such a small man, they made him a “tunnel rat.” He had been caved in on twice and nearly died. Once, he found himself in a dark hole. He turned around there was another guy right in there with him standing face-to-face in the dark and they couldn’t see each other but they could feel each other’s breath. The boy-man he confronted turned out to be about his age. The man had a knife. There was an imagined glint off the guy’s eyes and that was all that he could see as they struggled for the knife. He ended up having to kill this other man, at 17, with this knife that had been meant for him. Gutting him in a caved in tunnel.
Victims feel unworthy of being with those they love
You may not equate that with rape. But until the terrors of events that are beyond your control confront you — you do not know what you will do. And, if it happens to you, there are those who say it is a lie. Some of those closest to you won’t be able to come to grips with what you have been through. They won’t even envision how to help you. Invariably, they push you away, abandon you, and lie to themselves and others so that they don’t have to face the reality that YOU NEED their help. The victim is left being punished for something that was beyond his/her control. That victim begins to withdraw because they begin to see themselves as damaged and unworthy of being with those they love. They may even take on destructive behavior to “prove” how bad they are…
That was not unlike the feelings that Lisa had because she felt that every time she looked at someone and they knew that she had been raped. She heard one of her girlfriend’s remark that “well maybe she deserved it”. Some people can be so callous. You look at all these things and wonder how can you help someone come back from that?
Victims longing to be rescued …. to feel safe again
A rape victim is often hurt by those who claim everlasting love and devotion either by being smothered or abandoned. The victim doesn’t know how to ask for help — but they have to try. The victim has lost any belief in “private” thoughts. Again, believing “everyone knows.” You believe you have done something wrong. You live a continuing nightmare. Flashbacks, smells, lights and tastes cause you nausea. Maybe you gain or lose weight drastically. Wet the bed when you never had before. Forget things, so you make up a new past with different memories of a much stronger person. You pray for people to stop punishing you. You long to be rescued… to feel safe again.
A young woman once told me, “We are all doing all we can to give our support.” I asked, “Wait a minute, when’s the last time you wrote a letter, when’s the last time you called? How can you say that you’ve done this when nobody is writing or calling and everybody expects someone else in the family to be doing it? “
Everyone talks behind the victim’s back, but nobody is really doing anything because they themselves are afraid. They don’t know where to go to learn what to do. And, somehow this terrible incident is believed to rub off on them. So, how do we find the courage to confront our own prejudices? Can we admit that our job isn’t to fix ANYTHING? Our job is to get the victim to a point where they can deal with what happened… so they can begin to live again.
I don’t mind expressing what happened to this girl that I call Lisa. She was a rape victim who found the courage to survive. She overcame her demons and learned to hit back. Physically and emotionally. For that, she is a success. She now teaches others how not to be afraid. She teaches women’s self-defense and rape awareness in the Los Angeles area. Lisa is also a Deputy Sheriff. Lisa learned that life will get better.
Lisa learned that life will get better
But in the same vein what I want people to understand is that when you say something like what Lisa’s sister said “yea I took a class in it and so I know” that’s probably the worst thing that anyone can do — taking a single class and think that they know. Just like the empathetic statement that “No one should have to ever lose a child,” no one should ever have to lose the feeling of being “safe.” No one should ever justify abandoning someone in need.
I know how people treat others because victimization has touched my life personally. That’s why I continue to help others become better aware and protected — before the need arises. But it is also why I will never abandon someone in need. And why I now never allow a lie to remain unchallenged.
So do your part and cry with a victim. Listen and don’t betray confidences. Love unconditionally. Whatever else you do not do, be there for those who are in need. For issues of mental health, rape crisis counseling, providing a safe meeting place for support groups, or even making charitable contributions to support those who care enough to make a difference — Call to to find out how you can help in your own community.