Shaping Experience

My experience was one that I believe many children go through at some point in their childhood.  It was a cold day, and I was on the playground with my friends.  We were engaged in some sort of childhood game, like Red Rover or Freeze Tag.  As I was playing, a boy that I had argued with at school recently came up to me.  He looked in my face and called me stupid and various racial slurs because of my darker skin color.  I, of course, yelled back at him.  Then, he punched me in the face.  Other children that were there pulled him off of me as I crumpled to the ground, but I was so surprised by that punch.  That was the first time in my childhood that I had encountered violence in person, and I feel it is one of the key moments in my life.  It is significant because I lost a vital part of my innocence that day.

My initial perception was just complete shock.  When the punch landed on my face, I immediately fell to the ground.  My eyes suddenly welled up with tears, and I did not know what was happening to me.  I had argued with other friends and acquaintances in the past, but I had never been involved in any sort of violent encounter.  Prior to the punch, I thought he was just coming up to me to talk or to ask to be a part of our game.  I knew the situation had turned when he began yelling at me and began using abusive language.  However, I never anticipated the use of violence in the argument.  The shock was so great because I had never experienced violence in my life.  My mother and father never fought in front of their children, and the neighborhood I lived in was not violent.  So, this was my first violent experience.

Looking back at the situation, I realize now that this event made me recognize the violence that exists in society and the tolerance of violence that occurs.  Based on many statistics, violence against women is startlingly common.  When I get that feeling of intimidation and fear when I am walking down a street at night and a man is behind me, I trace that fear back to this situation.  I now realize that the boy was using a socially acceptable means of solving the conflict.  While our society discourages fighting, it celebrates men when they solve conflicts with violence.  Our most popular sport is football, which is a violent means of settling a dispute of who is the best team.  Also, it should be noted that women usually do not play the sport.

Overall, the source of the conflict was a power differential.  At school, I had embarrassed the boy in front of his friends by beating him in an argument.  I did not know it at the time, but I had gained the power in the relationship and had caused the boy to sink lower in his standing with his friends.  He decided that the only way to regain power was through violence.  He won.

The destructive outcomes were that I feared the boy.  I also lost my innocence.  I went from never having experienced violence to experiencing it intimately.  I also experienced physical outcomes.  I had a bruised and swollen eye and jaw.  However, there were constructive elements of the situation.  I gained valuable experience that has helped me in other violent situations.  I learned to identify violence before it becomes physical.  I also learned to be aware of my surroundings and recognize violent situations as they develop.  Furthermore, I learned that my appearance could be insulted and judged by another.  Lastly, I learned to avoid violent situations at all costs.

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