Reader’s Question: Won’t walking away make me look weak?

Written by Irene van der Zande, Kidpower Founder and Executive Director

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Reader’s Question: I know that you say that it’s safer to walk away, but I worry that just leaving will show an attacker that I’m afraid. Won’t walking away make me look weak?

Kidpower Answer: There is a self-defense technique that our law enforcement and martial arts experts tell us is the best technique of all time. The official name for this technique isTarget Denial, which means denying yourself as a target to a person who might be dangerous to you or, in other words, Don’t be there! Nothing works all the time, but you can remove yourself from harm’s way with your body – and with your feelings – most of the time.

The sad reality is that too many people have ended up dead, injured, or in jail because they were afraid of appearing weak.

Of course, how you walk away makes a big difference! If you cower, put your head down, and act scared, this will indeed make you look weak. If you act tough and challenge someone, that is likely to provoke a confrontation even though you might be moving away.

Instead, if you act like a powerful respectful leader, you will look strong even as you are leaving to get to a safer place. You can learn to do this no matter how scared, upset, or angry you feel inside. This is why we have our students practice walking away from someone being insulting or threatening with a calm, aware, and confident attitude.


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About the Author

Irene van der Zande, Kidpower Founder and Executive Director
Kidpower Founder and Executive Irene van der Zande is a master at teaching safety through stories and practices and at inspiring others to do the same. Her child protection and personal safety expertise has been featured by USA Today, CNN, Today Moms, the LA Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Publications include: Bullying: What Adults Need to Know and Do to Keep Kids Safe, the Kidpower Safety Comics series, the Relationship Safety Skills Handbook for Teens and Adults, and The Kidpower Book for Caring Adults: Personal Safety, Self-Protection, Confidence, and Advocacy for Young People.
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