Three Coping Strategies in Clear and Present Danger: Lessons from ‘I Survived’



God forbid, but I have never been into a situation where I am faced with clear and present danger. The most life-threatening circumstance I have been into was childbirth, an out of the extraordinary experience, I must say.

In Jessica, Jeff & Mark, Kerri episode of Bio’s I Survived, survivors are faced with paralyzing fear and brutality, a total opposite of the euphoric feel of giving birth. Theirs are life-and-death situations where in no rehearsals, no tryouts, and no missteps are welcomed. Every move counts as survivors grapple for their lives and eventually triumph over death.

In the recent episode of I Survived, survivors Jessica and Kerri wrestled with theft, rape, and murder from their attackers; Jessica, in her own house in Florida and Kerri, two blocks away from her family’s home in Wisconsin. Survivors Mark and Jeff, on the other hand, had to defend themselves from the outburst of a bear’s territorial instinct while on a week-long moose hunting trip in Alaska. The survivors recounted their stories and in the near end of the episode recapped the impetus behind their survival. Below are the three coping strategies, which enabled Jessica, Jeff & Mark, and Kerri to survive one of the most tormenting moments of their lives.

Presence of Mind. When a knife-toting man attacked Kerri, then 16 years old, her first reaction was denial. Kerri grew up in the area and believed it was a safe haven for everyone. Her mind, however, acknowledged what then, seemed to be a surreal idea: danger is everywhere, and her place was not an exception. In an instant, Kerri regained her confidence and began praying loudly, which irked her tormentor causing him to put down his knife. From that moment on, the blindfolded Kerri was able to carry out a ploy, which effectively helped her to escape and find help. So, when we are faced with clear and present danger, it is vital that we recognize the reality of the moment. Only when we consider the existence of danger as a solid truth, that we can practice serene prudence like Kerri. Kerri’s skillful exercise of prudence or presence of mind paved to a situation where in escape became possible.

Buddy System. The case of Mark and Jeff proved once again the pragmatism in the folk adage, “two is always better than one.” At the fang of death, the buddy system became the survivors’ saving grace. When a bear’s anger befell Mark, Jeff gave his most accurate shot and saved his life. Jeff’s decision not to leave his friend while the bear was figuring out how to chew his head was critical to Mark’s survival. Buddy system hand-in-hand with the commitment to help can work at any situation and in any place. It is just different when you have someone to look after your back and vice versa.

Playing Safe. When her antagonist recaptured Jessica, she decided to play a safe game: she went with the flow and pretended to understand her tormentor perfectly. The said strategy worked, and Jessica was able to send her tormentor to jail. Jessica’s case showed that in the presence of clear danger, playing safe could deliver positive result. In playing safe, the lesser of two evils principle is at work. Of the terrible choices (rape and theft or death) available, Jessica found theft and rape as the lesser evil. For that, she cheerlessly embraced the theft and rape situation, with the hope that her choice would spare her from death. In Jessica’s case, playing safe proved to be playing smart.

A dose of reality: danger exists – at home (Jessica), away from home (Mark & Jeff), or even in the most unexpected place (Kerri’s neighborhood). It is a fact of life that I hope is just a pretend. I am never a pessimist, but like the survivors in I Survived, we may face death at one point in our lives due to other’s intrusion to our privacy and unexpected circumstance. My prayer is that, if that happens, everyone who reads this article will find the courage to pray on-top of his/her voice like Kerri, have the presence of mind to employ an effective coping strategy and a buddy to work with in unison. Have a safe day everyone!



*Originally published at Yahoo! TV. © 2011, Yahoo! Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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