RJ Nash, in "Condition Black" notes that the most common attack (male on female) is for the man to merely display a weapon, make a threat, and put his hand on the victim's upper arm and lead her away. It sounds so docile, so unlikely. Who would go along with a mere threat? Why wouldn't she simply...
Teja Van Wicklen, of Devi Protective Offense consistently finds the words to make things real: "It's not like screaming and bullying. Guys don't get that. He can hurt her and she knows it, but he says, 'I know you're afraid. Don't worry. Just don't fight me and I won't hurt you. I promise.' And she chooses to believe him even though she knows it's a lie-- an unsolicited promise is always a lie-- but she doesn't see another way."
Teja makes it personal, makes it real. I teach it dry, academic: Predators want you in your social brain. As long as you are being social, thinking you can control or at least influence the outcome by social skills (talking, bargaining, appeasement, flattery...) the predator knows you are both safe and completely predictable. If you are in your thinking, human brain, you might be smarter than the threat. If you are in your reptilian survival brain, there is no limit to the harm you might do. If your attacker can keep you in your social/monkey brain he knows that he is safe.
When I teach that the first hit after you break out of a freeze is done at half power, it is an observation. No one hits hard in their first strike of their first fight, not when they are surprised. For some unknown reason, it is almost always a tentative, half-power, powder puff. Almost more a signal of intent than a strike. I tell students that and caution them against it.
Teja talks of the consequences: "She tries to fight, but that first hit is half power, like you say, more struggling than fighting and he hits her back, hard. She's never felt pain like that and she is afraid to try again... and he says, again, 'Just don't fight me and I won't hurt you.' She has to believe it because it seems like the only chance she has is to believe he is telling the truth."
There are aspects of problems that I can never fully understand. We are all wired differently, all have different experiences. Teja is fast becoming my Subject Matter Expert for women's self-defense issues. Partially because she sees it so clearly but even more because she can explain it in a way that gets through.