Genevieve’s Purple Key Moment:

I never really thought that self defense training was for me. I have lived a safe and guarded life. I grew up in a wealthy family and had always been very protected I admit. I took things for granted, that is until an assault occurred that affected our entire family. It changed our lives forever.

My sister in law was violently assaulted and raped while jogging on a path near her neighborhood. She jogged every morning about the same time, always with her headphones on, so she never heard him coming as he hit on the head with a baseball bat. It was very early morning when it happened and the sun wasn’t up. She was a lot like I was. Lived in a neighborhood of expensive homes and felt the safety that seemed to come with this lifestyle. Everything to us, growing up and as adults, seemed safe. I learned that day that big homes, fancy cars and gated communities can’t guarantee your safety.

My husband and I had since moved from that part of the country, having followed a change in employment but I often felt like I was still there. I became scared of everything. It was so fresh. I never wanted my husband to travel and jumped at the smallest sound in the house or in the yard. After months it got worse. In a new community I found myself even more frightful than in my hometown. I didn’t want to go out after dark. I feared even the daytime when I was home alone. I just couldn’t help but be afraid. If it happened to her it could happen to me. I convinced myself that it would happen to me eventually and that crippled me. My husband heard of a safety class that was offered in the area and he called on it for me. I wanted to take it but was afraid to take it. He enrolled me and I fully planned on going. On the first day I didn’t show. I was too afraid to talk about it. I was afraid of what I might have to do in the class.

My fear became so debilitating that I did this three other times. I called each time and put my name on the list but didn’t show up. Finally Tanya called on me and extended me a lifeline. She knew my m.o. and I guess, didn’t want me to back out again. She offered to see me privately and to help me. She didn’t say I had to learn from her, she just asked that I come in so she could personally give me some literature that might help me. I wasn’t sure but felt better about not having to do a class. I met with her and she made me feel comfortable in our brief meeting. She gave me a purple key and we spoke about how to build my confidence and fight my fear.

For me, I wanted to be able to take the class that she and my husband desperately knew would help me. She called me every time after that personally to invite me to the next class. Even if it was a message on the machine she said to look at the key and to remember that I could do it. She told me to remember how I felt when it was just her and I and that I could do it. After a while, I finally did it. I actually showed up for the class. Tanya made sure I was sitting by her in the lecture. She made sure I was in her line for the drills. She made sure to tell me to look at the purple key the next day so I would feel good about coming on the second day. I wasn’t good. I know I wasn’t. My fear didn’t translate into power like it did for the other students, but Tanya told me it would in time. “No one hits the bulls eye with the first arrow,” she said. It would get better with practice. I wanted to believe her. And when I was with her I almost did. But I knew that she wouldn’t always be with me.

Then the last day she handed out keys to the women in the class, but I realized I already had one. Then I realized that Tanya has been with me all this time. It was the moment that I knew her spirit, that I wanted to somehow become my spirit, was with me. I have come back to do the class again. And I’m still not that good. But I am better than the first time. I decided that I don’t want to be afraid anymore. I want my life back. I want to feel the way I felt before my sister in law was so violently raped but I want to have the knowledge I acquired since that assault happened. It was hard. It still is hard sometimes. But even if it’s not my fighting spirit just yet, it’s someone else’s that keeps me trying.