My name is Avital Zeisler and I WAS a victim of a sexual assault. I emphasize the past tense in WAS because I have journeyed far and away from the innocent teenage girl who trusted a man only to be attacked by this very Prince Charming.
I was a very typical teen, I had BIG dreams -- figure skater, ballerina and even fashion designer. The magic in my life was artistic self expression fueled by ambition, drive and curiosity. I was woefully unprepared to deal with a violent sexual attack. I had no clue how to deal with its aftermath -- physically, emotionally and spiritually. I found myself withdrawing into my own little world; even as the case proceeded through the court system. Whereas I had previously been confident and outgoing; I had become withdrawn, insecure and generally fearful of life. I could not wrap my head around what had happened and increasingly felt negativity seep into every aspect of my life.
I could not go on like this -- living in numbness while I slowly disappeared. I had to make a decision.
I was either going to lose myself and hide under my covers forever or I was going to face my fear. I chose to face this traumatic experience with courage, strength and plain old guts. I needed a new focus; something that would help me to deal with the negativity and despair -- I took a self defense class.
It was at this moment that I returned to the present and stopped dwelling on the past. In effect, the flashbacks to the violence were slowly being replaced by feelings of empowerment. Each and every self defense technique I learned brought me closer to my goal of reclaiming my being and having the practical knowledge of self protection. It was this part of the journey that led me to the realization that my healing process was intimately entwined with the depth of my self- defense training. I was eventually invited to train at the source of the self-defense system I was studying, known as Krav Maga. Since then I have had the privilege and opportunity to work with some of the highest ranked self defense instructors and security specialists around the world.
As I have gained much practical experience and knowledge of self defense techniques, my definition of self defense has evolved to include aspects of physical, emotional and spiritual factors. True self defense is the ability to defend your right to create and live the best life possible, with the ability to protect your body and mind against a threat or act of violence -- at all costs.
As I started to live every day with this new outlook; I was able to share this philosophy with students everywhere -- at high school seminars and in the self defense classes I teach. The three tenets of this philosophy are:
- I am no longer a victim of the threat of violence or actual violence - I know how to defend myself.
- Emotionally, I am prepared to face life's difficulties and know that solutions are possible - I am worthy of self confidence.
- Spiritually, I believe that I can move forward in a positive and meaningful way and this is my right.
I encourage you to share these words of experience with someone whom you care about and whom will find it empowering and inspirational, as our students have.
I look forward to sharing my thoughts on the topics of self defense, fitness and empowerment.
Stay safe and live well!