Street violence is an ongoing problem in society.
It can affect anyone regardless of age, race, gender, status or where you live.
Having been a victim myself the experience has had a profound change to my personality and the choices I make in social situations.
I was 18 years-old when I was walking home on a cold November night after being out with friends. It was a clear sky and I decided to sit on the park bench and catch my breath.
Suddenly I was interrupted by shouting coming from the alley that backed onto the park, so I started walking away to the main road so that I would be able to see where I was going and see if anyone was approaching me.
When I got to the main road and started walking away I heard a voice say “stop” so I started walking quickly then I heard it again: “stop”, but this time more aggressive, so in hesitation I stopped thinking it was the police.
I turned around to see this man with a greater build with leather gloves on running towards me.
Seeing the gloves I thought he was from the police, so I stopped.
Before I knew it, I was in an altercation with a fully-grown man and was terrified that he would completely overpower me.
Taking blows from his punches, I tried to think back to the martial arts training I had back when I was 13, but realised that I hadn’t trained in the art to actually use it in a real life altercation.
He continued to attack me with no remorse and I kept trying to diffuse his aggression by asking him “what have I done?” but none of it seemed to work.
Eventually I gave up trying to defend myself and just submitted thinking that I was going to die, it seemed like minutes had gone by when in actual fact it was probably seconds when I decided that I wasn’t going to let myself die, and that if I was going to get out of the situation I was going to have to fight back.
My adrenaline by that point was at its highest point and I realised that I had nothing to lose in terms of pride. I just thought I had my life to fight for so I just had to do what I could to escape the situation.
So I tried to strike him enough to run away but nothing seemed to have an effect. He eventually got me on the floor and pinned against the railings and continued to assault me. I put my hands up to attempt to defend myself. Then he bit my fingers so I used my legs to push him away and made enough space so I could escape.
I then started to run home, not even comprehending what had just happened.
Time was moving so fast because of the adrenaline my body was producing. As I got to an alleyway near my home I could feel blood trickling down my face. I didn’t really know how bad my injuries were so I was quite worried and continued to run home.
After receiving medical attention and speaking to the police about what happened, I returned home and watched some telly to try and relax. I eventually gathered my thoughts and made my way to bed to begin recovering.
A couple of weeks had gone by and I realised that the experience had changed me. I didn’t feel like going out and socialising, I just wanted to be on my own. I didn’t feel like eating.
For a point in my life I felt like I lost control of my life. I was scared to go out just in case I bumped into people my own age who used to hang out at certain places because I didn’t want to get into a confrontation or, even worse, an altercation.
I came to the decision that my confidence was really low and I needed to get it back but didn’t know how. I then decided to go back to the martial arts class where I began training when I was 13 years old.
As of today I haven’t looked back, through martial arts I have met some good people, rebuilt my confidence and have had new opportunities presented to me.
I would say the best advice I can give to others who find themselves feeling like this is to talk about it with people who you can trust or relate to your experiences.
I think that martial arts had a big part in my recovery process. I feel that my martial arts instructor has given me my life back because he taught me how to defend myself properly and I trust him and respect him. I think you have to find someone you can trust to build your confidence back up and a martial arts instructor is a good place to start because the instructor has probably come into contact with people who have had these experiences, or he probably went through the same thing which caused him to train in the martial arts.
I feel it’s best to talk about it rather than keep it to yourself because other problems start to develop the more you think about it such as anger, depression,and low self-esteem.