Courage in the face of fear

Guest post by Anthony Zhou

I work with young offenders and even before I started this role, I knew that there was a risk that I could be assaulted. During training, we were informed of staff being assaulted in another precinct. It was always in the back of mind that it could happen to me; it wasn’t a matter of if – but when.

There are a couple of reasons for this:

One, it is my job to enforce the rules and to prevent and challenge negative behaviour.

Two, my personal values of integrity and professionalism wouldn’t allow me to not fulfill the roles and duties which I have signed up for – despite the potential physical risk to my person.

In saying that, there was an element of fear in regards to the potential eventuality of me getting assaulted – I would be lying if I said there wasn’t. But I didn’t let that fear cripple me, or stop me from doing my job. An analogy is that we know we are all going to die – we don’t when or how, but that shouldn’t stop us from living.

the fight

On Sunday 26 January 2020, that potential eventuality became a reality for me. I was physically assaulted by a young person because I gave him a kitchen ban for abusing staff. He postured aggressively towards me, and when I attempted to use my radio to call for backup, he attacked.

As he was punching me, my thought process was:

“Am I allowed to defend myself?”

“Are the other boys going attack me if I defend myself?”

“Fuck it!”

the decision

I decided that I had to defend myself because if I didn’t there could be a risk that I could get knocked unconscious or suffer some serious injuries, and to be honest: my life was being threatened.

When I fought back, he stopped punching me. It allowed time for back-up to arrive, and I was able to escape that situation with only a swollen left cheek.

I was very lucky that the only injury I suffered was a swollen left cheek. It could have been a whole lot worse.

Apart from luck, what helped me survive was my limited experience in Krav Maga. It’s been a long time since I’ve trained but when I did train, I was exposed to being punched and kicked etc.

When I was punched during that incident it did create an initial shock, but I was able to maintain composure and react accordingly. In regards to the fight or flight response – I fought.

the aftermath

I was taken to the hospital with two other colleagues to be checked out. I had to get a CT scan on my cheek to make sure there wasn’t a fracture, which there wasn’t, and I didn’t have a concussion. My two colleagues and I were able to return to work the next working day.

People were shocked to see me back at work so soon because when you hear a staff member got assaulted you think worst-case scenario. However, the support from everyone was overwhelming and they were very happy to see that I was OK. All that attention and support isn’t something I am used to – but I am very grateful for it.

In the aftermath, emotionally and psychologically I am fine because I had been exposed to that sort of physical trauma before.

I did initially feel angry because in regards to my ego and pride I felt like I lost. But the reality is – I won. I was able to walk away with only a swollen left cheek – I successfully defended myself.


This experience has definitely taught me a few lessons:

I need to go back to Krav Maga training. It is simple, yet effective. My skill level is mediocre but what I did use saved me. I never know when I will need to defend myself again, so I need to maintain and continue my training.

I was able to live by my values daily and fulfill my duties at work – despite the risk to my own life.

It was a scary situation, but despite that fear I was still able to do what I had to do to get out that situation alive.

I never thought of myself as a brave or courageous person, but the actions I took while I was being assaulted, and the ability to show up to work the next working day despite what I went through – shows that I have resilience, fortitude, and courage.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Confidence | Clarity | Connection

No more people-pleasing, Nice Guy Syndrome, or confidence issues.

The BROJO community will make sure you achieve your goals and build your self-worth with the support of members and coaches from all over the world.