Case Study

Case Study

Knowing When to Push: Balancing Safety and Challenge

By Michele Weiner-Davis

March/April 2015

I was doing a workshop in the Midwest and, as is often the case when I travel, I spent a great deal of time with the person who organized the training. We ate meals together. We talked. We became fast friends. Over dinner one night, she shared a story about her life—one that stuck with me for years and would affect my life and work in profound ways.

A vivacious, single, 35-year-old woman, Sally had a passion for running. One day, the unimaginable happened: when she returned to her apartment after a run, the door closed behind her and there stood a man in a ski mask with a knife in his hand. Sally quickly told herself that she might get raped but would somehow survive the ordeal. And in fact, that’s precisely what happened.

The rapist ordered her to remove her clothes and have intercourse with him as he held a knife to her throat. She complied. Then, when he was more focused on his orgasm than her, she escaped and ran across the street to a neighbor’s house. When the police arrived, she matter-of-factly relayed what had happened. After listening to her report, the police officer said, “Lady, I don’t get it. You were just raped at knifepoint and you’re telling me the story so calmly. How is that possible?”

Sally looked the police officer straight in the eye and without a moment’s hesitation replied, “You don’t think that I’m going to let 15 minutes with that fucker ruin my life, do you?”

Sally’s reaction took my breath away. I wanted to stand up and…

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