• Yehudit Zicklin-Sidikman

Can We Really Be Aware Of Everything, Always?


“The most important thing you can do to protect yourself and your family is to always remain aware in any situation.”


The quote is from a well-meaning male self-defense instructor who I will keep anonymous, primarily, because he is not the first, only and most likely not the last to say something like this.


I have a simple question, and it is for all parents of all genders. Is it possible to “always remain aware?”


I have a simple question, and it is for all parents of all genders. Is it possible to “always remain aware?”

I raised five kids, and I can tell you, from my experience, and from observing my friends who were also raising bunches of kids at the same time I was, that being aware of everything all the time is just not humanly achievable.


That would mean never burning food. Never forgetting a kettle. Never forgetting a potty-training tot on the toilet. (Hey, don’t judge, I am talking about kid number three.....). It happens. Collapsing on the couch and closing your eyes out of exhaustion after throwing some food in buckets with lots of forks and putting the little wonderful monsters in front of a movie for ten minutes of quiet before the fighting begins is just a necessary part of life.


I count among my gold stars in life my ability to get all of my children to age 18 relatively unscarred. They are lovely people who are adulting in wonderful ways. But I can promise you that I was not able to always remain aware in any and all situations.


And, even though I was more aware than most, because of my profession and training, as to the likelihood of gender-based or interpersonal violence, it happened in my family too.


In those situations, what really made a difference was being able to listen to my intuition and my ability to keep open non-judgmental lines of communication between my kids and myself. Not perfect. But good enough to catch things before they really got bad.


In those situations, what really made a difference was being able to listen to my intuition and my ability to keep open non-judgmental lines of communication between my kids and myself. Not perfect. But good enough to catch things before they really got bad.

Like the family friend who I really trusted. When my kids started asking me not to invite them over anymore, it was hard, and it was not what I wanted to do, but I listened. Was I aware of their creepiness soon enough? Did I make a wrong call inviting them over to begin with? Could I have known sooner if I had always remained aware?


Probably not. Why? Well, because that is not how this type of grooming for sexual assault occurs. It is not clear to those around, even those who are always aware.


The other problem of this message is the underlying victim-blaming. If the most important thing you can do to protect yourself and your family is to always remain aware, what does that mean for the times you weren’t aware in a particular situation and you or a member of your family were attacked. Do you hold some responsibility for that?


No, let’s make this clear.


Aware or unaware. The person responsible for violence and abuse is the person perpetrating it.

Aware or unaware. The person responsible for violence and abuse is the person perpetrating it.


Period.

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