February 2002

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Dear Reader,

Welcome to the February issue of the Back Off newsletter and as always a special welcome to all the new readers that have come onboard since we last made contact in January.

I mentioned last month that we were starting to get a lot of subscriptions from all over the world and that trend has certainly continued into February as I have recently received emails from as far afield as Germany and South Africa.

I am currently in the process of selecting a PR company to link up with as I am looking at running a series of public seminars in NSW and interstate. So for those of you who have been inquiring about when/if I was going to run some seminars that are open to the public, stay tuned and I'll let you know how things progress.

This months article very much follows-on from the 'Dog on the couch' strategy that we looked at in the January issue. As always I got a lot of feedback about the old 'dog on the couch' and sexual harassment in general, so I thought that in this issue I would stick with the same theme by looking into what sexual harassment actually is and why it occurs. I hope that this gives you a little more info on what is such a common confrontation for young women to have to deal with.

For those who a remotely interested, we have posted a new segment onto our home that outlines a sponsorship opportunity to get behind and support the seminars that we conduct to young women. I just thought I would mention this as I am out and about at the moment speaking with interested companies, so if you know of anybody who may be keen you may want to direct them to our web site and they can have a read through our proposal.

OK guys, that's it from me, so until we speak again, take care, be happy and enjoy this months issue.

Take care, your friend

PS- Remember to visit our 'archive page' to browse through our previous Back Off issues from the past 12 months

''The only dreams impossible to reach are the ones you never persue.'
Michael Deckman
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Once we have an understanding of how to control the way we think in a pressure situation the next step is understanding how the offender thinks. Only then are we in a position to take control.

I believe the most effective way to examine the typical male mindset in a conflict situation is to examine sexual harassment. Put simply, once you understand sexual harassment you understand every form of male to female conflict. So let us now build the foundation upon which we can develop strategies to deal with any situation we are confronted with.


Sexual harassment has been defined as being-'Any deliberate or unintentional verbal and/or physical behaviour of a sexual or sexist nature which is unwelcome, unsolicited and not reciprocated.' So basically any behaviour of a sexual nature that makes you feel uncomfortable is sexual harassment.

The act of sexual harassment is an offence under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977. Before we look at how to stop sexual harassment let us first look at why it starts. Firstly, not everybody is targeted for this type of confrontation. I have been around for over thirty years but have never been sexually harassed, yet I do not know of one girl or woman over the age of fifteen that has not experienced sexual harassment! The reason for this is simple, and in fact so obvious it is often overlooked. Girls and woman are selected as targets due to the guys' perception they will react the 'right' way. Conversely I am rejected as being a good target because I may not react accordingly.

Understanding the selection process of harassment is essential if you want to understand how to combat it. So let me stress it again. Girls and woman are selected for sexual harassment because the guys' who select you believe you to be a good target. A good target is somebody who responds in a way that makes the guy look and feel powerful.

The most desired response to harassment, in the eyes of the guy therefore, is total submission or in fact the opposite end of the spectrum, -total over-reaction such as crying, screaming or yelling. Both of these responses provide the guy with the feeling of power and control he is seeking from the confrontation.

Sadly submission is an all too common response to sexual harassment. This of course means the situation will usually continue and usually get worse. Without doubt one of the most damaging comments I hear during my seminars comes from young woman who say,"What's the point of trying to do anything about a guy hassling you, it will only make it worse." Sadly they have just identified why they are selected. This is exactly the mindset the guys' are looking for. Not only does this attitude actually encourage the harassment to continue but there are also far greater ramifications to consider.

If we as a society condition young women to accept they have no option but to accept this type of harassment then we allow them to believe that standing up for themselves and being assertive is not only wrong but, beyond their capability. Then are we not simply playing into the hands of the individuals who have to exploit the weakness of others to create a false sense of power within themselves?

The thing that concerns me most about allowing blatant sexual harassment to go unchecked, however, is this- If a young girl or woman believes she is unable to stand up for herself in a verbal confrontation, what chance does she have of getting out of a physical confrontation? I believe self protection is just as important in sexual harassment as it is in sexual assault. One does not function without the other. The old adage, 'Just ignore them and they will go away' unfortunately doesn't quite cut it and sets a dangerous precedent for more volatile confrontations.

The key to effectively dealing with sexual harassment, as with any form of confrontation, is your ability to, ' get inside the head' of the person you're dealing with. You must understand why you have been selected and what he is expecting you to do. Only then are you in a position to select the best strategy to use against him. Sexual harassment, like every form of male to female confrontation, is never an expression of strength. It is always, always, always an expression of weakness.

So before we look at a typical situation and how to deal with it let's sum up the selection process and motivation behind every incident of sexual harassment;

  • The reason girls and woman are selected for harassment is the guys' that select them perceive them as good targets.

  • A 'Good Target' is a person who will respond in a way that makes the harasser look and feel powerful.

  • If the harasser gets the response he is looking for, either submission or over-reaction, the situation will usually continue and usually get worse.

  • Male to female conflict is an expression of weakness not strength.

  • Guys' that sexually harass girls and women are attempting to compensate for a feeling of weakness and inadequacy.

In our next issue we will outline a typical sexual harassment scenario, in the meantime you may wish to look back over the 'Dog on the couch' strategy to remind yourself how to best exploit the weaknesses of the type of guy we have outlined.

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Q. We hear about this term 'sexual harassment' all the time, but how do you actually know if you have been sexually harassed or not?

A. This is a very common question asked of me whenever this topic is discussed. Understandably most people are not totally aware of the 'ingredients' of sexual harassment as set out in the relative federal and state anti-discrimination acts. The best way to address this issue is to say that if you have been offended by the behaviour of a person or people and that their behaviour is if a sexual nature, then that is clearly sexual harassment. This offence is not determined by the 'intention' of the offender but rather by how the person that the behaviour is directed towards feels about the behaviour.

Q. Can just one act constitute sexual harassment of does there have to be some ongoing acts/behaviour?

A. Yes, just one act can be classified as sexual harassment if the act is clearly one that a reasonable person would find offensive. It is more common, however, for sexual harassment to be a series of acts directed towards the same person.

E-mail Brent at:

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You Must Not Quit

You Must Not Quit When Things go wrong as they sometime will,
When the road you're trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don't you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about
When they might have won had they stuck it out;
Don't give up though the pace seems slow.
You may succeed with another blow.
Success is failure turned inside out.
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far.
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit.
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit.
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A couple more invaluable tips from our man Dan re the old social scene:

""Date rape drugs have again been mentioned in the news more recently so this is probably a good time to issue a bit of a reminder about being extra careful when out and about socially. Be cautious about accepting drinks from a guy that you don't know and avoid leaving your drinks unattended. Maybe this is a good time to read back through our 'Date rape drug' Back Off issue that you can find in our archive page at www.winningedgestrategies.com.au .".""

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Here are a couple of letters I received at the end of last year. Remember to pass on any stories/information via our e-mail link in this segment of the newsletter.

Dear Brent,

I have attended one of your seminars and I am writing to let you know of the help it has been to me. I work in an open food shop in a shopping centre. One night my boss left the shop half an hour early and I was left to finish closing and wait for my mother who was meeting me there. I was sixteen at the time and while closing a couple of guys in their late teens approached the shop . They appeared to be cocky and I could tell they were going to cause me trouble.

They sat at a table near the shop and I heard them calling out to me in another language I didn't understand. As I ignored them they became louder and as one of the guys saw me glance over and lifted his shirt remarking "hey, you like this" and laughed. They hassled me for a while longer and as I bent down to collect something they approached and threw something into the shop.

Soon they became bored and left me alone. I saw them approach another girl nearby and start on her. My mother soon arrived but I couldn't help feeling belittled and humiliated as I knew that these guys had taken advantage of my silence and used it for their own entertainment. I spent the night wishing I had said something so that they may have though twice before hassling the next girl in line.

After seeing your seminar, I learned that no guy has the right to make me or any other girl feel that way. I should have confronted them or even 'just laughed' at them to make them feel even a fifth as uncomfortable as they made me feel. Now, when someone walks past and lets loose a comment (which happens frequently in this centre) I confront them saying "do you have a problem" or "excuse me" and sometimes I just laugh at them . NEEDLESS TO SAY, I NEVER HAVE TO TELL THE SAME PERSON TWICE.

n Conclusion thank you so much for your inspirational speech at my school it really has made a difference. Thank you,

J.M Sydney

Dear Mr Sanders,

Hi, u recently gave my school a lecture on self defence. I am in year ten. I am just writing to thank you very much. You are a very talented presenter and I learnt so much from you. If I may, I would like to share a story with you:

You gave your lecture on Friday, that very afternoon I went to the city to meet a friend for coffee. As soon as I walked out the gates I had a new confidence. I felt I had an ability to control any situation I may have been put in from then on. -thanks to what you had just told me- I was waiting at town hall steps for my friend. He rang and told me he was going to be 20 minutes late so I was sitting quietly on the steps waiting. I noticed a middle-aged man standing next to me. He was preaching about Jesus or something. saying things like "Jesus is your friend, you cant find fault in Jesus, turn to Jesus etc etc" I took little notice of him as he looked very normal, business suit and everything.

However since leaving your seminar I found myself surveying almost every person around me making sure they posed no danger to me. But this guy.... there was something not right about him.. I could sense it. As I was thinking this I noticed his eyes, they kept looking in my direction. I automatically sensed something was about to happen. I could feel it inside me. I remained where I was and avoided eye contact. I noticed the man getting slowly closer to me. My heart was pounding and I could feel fear, but- I blocked it. I controlled my mind and kept very cool.

All of a sudden the man stopped yelling about Jesus and god and turned around and started writing on a piece of paper. He then walked over to me. He asked me "young girl, do you believe in Jesus?" I didn't answer and looked away he then put his hand on my leg and said "young girl I asked you a question" I could feel this presence about him and my blood froze. I looked at him and said "no I don't, please get your hand off my leg" he said "no. I like having my hand there. Tell me why you don't believe in Jesus" I replied with "I just don't. Look, get you hand off me now or I am going to kick the shit out of you and yell and scream so that everyone around here looks over at you" (excuse the profanity) he got a scared look on his face, then gave me a piece of paper on it said an address and two telephone numbers I asked "what is this?" He replied "its where you will come tonight" when I asked why he replied "because I want to make you happy, and turn you to Jesus, as he is your friend" I said "thankyou but I am not interested" and gave the paper back to him at this point

I was gathering my bags and getting ready to leave I then felt his hand on my shoulder he asked "have you had lunch?" I said "yes I have" he then asked "well I will buy you dinner" I then felt his grip on my shoulder tighten very hard I said "let go of me" in a loud voice people started to look around he then looked me straight in the eyes and said quietly "one more word out of you and ill kill you, you little slut, now come with me" I then screamed as loud as I could "get your f..g hands off me you weirdo. I don't know you! leave me alone!!" and thrashed my arms about. Everyone around turned to look at what was happening he quickly got his briefcase and ran very fast in another direction.

Now that happened about two hours after you finished your lecture. Now I realise it isn't a very big deal because nothing actually happened. But to me the important thing is what might just have happened, didn't. Thanks to you. So I honestly thank you so much. Id love to hear back from you, but I understand you are a very busy man. Keep up your great work Kind Regards

M.L Sydney

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''An idea can turn to dust or magic, depending on the talent that rubs against it.' - Bill Burnback

'Three things that never come back: the spent arrow; the spoken word; the lost opportunity.' - W.G.P

'There is nothing so wasteful as doing with great efficiency that which doesn't have to be done at all.'

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