"At the time this story took place I was living in London, England, and working as a bartender. My shift ended at midnight. Cab fare home would have taken a lot out of my small paycheque, so I generally took the bus. This meant that after taking one bus from my workplace, I had to wait for another bus at one o’clock in the morning, in an area noted for a high rate of violent street crime.
That night there were about ten people at that bus stop, including some women. I figured there was safety in numbers and stayed close to the other women. We waited and waited, but the bus never came.
Eventually the other people at the bus stop started to drift away, probably to walk home. My place was too far for me to walk, so by the time about half the people had left, I started to try to hail a cab. But none of the cabs would stop in that part of town at that time of night. As cab after cab drove by without responding to my hails, I started to feel extremely apprehensive; but I concentrated hard on keeping my cool and staying aware of my surroundings.
After about an hour, there was only me and one man left at the bus stop. At this point he started trying to talk to me. He started off with apparently harmless questions like “Do you have the time?” and went on to more and more personal questions, like “Are you American?” “How long are you in town?” “Where do you live?” From the very start I made it clear that I didn’t want to talk to him, saying things like “Look, I’ve had a hard day at work – I just want to be left alone.” By then I was on red alert; my hands had come out of my pockets and I the edge of the sidewalk, ready to jump into traffic if I needed to. I put my Walkman on, to make it obvious I didn’t want to talk to him, but kept the sound off, so that I could still hear. All the while I kept trying to flag down a cab, but they still wouldn’t stop.
Suddenly, at a moment when I had my back turned to him, he ran up behind me, grabbed me round the body, pinning my arms, and dragging me back toward some bushes.
If something like this had happened before I took Wen-Do, I think I would have frozen with fear, and felt I had no choices left. But instead I was able to turn my fear into anger. I felt furious, enraged; I thought, “How DARE you touch me!” I would have kicked him, but I was literally off my feet; my heels were dragging along the ground. So I did whatever else I could in that position, which was to yell and curse and struggle without stopping. And all the time I was thinking of what else I would do if he kept going; for instance, “If I get a chance to kick, I’m going to break his kneecap…If he gets me on the ground I’m going to poke his eyes out.”
But it didn’t come to that. Within seconds he realized that he had a fight on his hands, that I wasn’t going to be an easy target, and before he got to the bushes he let go.
He didn’t run from the scene, but instead slowly walked away, as if he were experienced in this and knew that running would draw attention to him. I definitely got the sense that he had done this kind of thing before. I was in shock, but I managed to keep my eye on him, just in case he decided to turn around and try again. And I walked out into the middle of the road and literally stood in front of the first cab that came along, waving my arms, to force it to stop and pick me up. Which it did.
I feel that what I learned from Wen-Do influenced my behaviour throughout this whole incident, from beginning to end. It made me better prepared to assess my surroundings, and it helped me stay calm as people started to leave and the situation became more risky. Before taking Wen-Do I think I would have started to panic at that point, or else gone into denial and ignored the risk. And at the moment of the attack itself, what I had learned in Wen-Do came back instantaneously and instinctively, even though my course had taken place seven years before. The most important thing that came back to me wasn’t any specific technique, but rather, as I said, the ability to take my fear and convert it into anger. And although this attacker was much larger and physically stronger than me – he was about 6’2″, 220 pounds, whereas I am 5’1″ – he was completely unprepared for my enraged resistance, and even a few seconds’ worth of it made him decide very quickly that it was better to let me go.
Learning Wen-Do certainly saved me from being raped, and may have possibly saved my life. I am forever grateful."