Avoiding or preventing an attack is easy, and in the vast majority of situations it does not require physical self defense or martial arts. If you follow these simple guidelines, the chance you’ll ever be attacked is incredibly small:
- Avoid dangerous places and people.
- Don’t be a good target.
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- Do not argue, provoke, or allow a verbal conflict to escalate.
- Escape or create distance if you feel threatened.
- Give up your money or valuables if bodily harm is threatened and you cannot escape.
- Keep your private areas secure.
Avoid Dangerous Places
This is the number one rule of self defense. If you avoid places where violence is likely to occur, you’ll dramatically decrease the chance you’ll even be considered as a target. These are dangerous places:
High Crime Areas: Some countries, cities, and areas are known for having high levels of crime. Even in regions that are generally safe, there are often specific geographic locations where high levels of crime regularly occur. Even if violence in such areas isn’t targeting people like you, it’s possible to get caught in the crossfire. In your own city, if there are high crime areas, you probably know where they are. Avoid them
Among Violent People: Violence is more likely to occur in the presence of violent people. Obviously the former section, high crime areas, ranks at the top of the list for being among violent people. In addition, violence often takes place where groups of young males hang out, particularly where they’re drinking.
Among People Who Don’t Like You: Places where you’re different from everyone else and where that difference isn’t well accepted can be dangerous Avoid places where you’ll stick out and people tend not to like your kind.
In-Between Places: Violence is easier to successfully use and get away with where there are few witnesses. But there must be someone available to attack. “In-between places” are those where people commonly pass through, but not too frequently, for example, between parking lots and tourist attractions, on jogging and hiking trails, on isolated side streets, in parking garages, and on the way to mail rooms from apartment complexes. Attackers can wait in these places, knowing that victims will pass through, and they’ll likely have some time alone with the victim. In-between places where people are more likely to have money or valuables are an even better location for criminals looking for money.
As best you can, avoid these in-between-places. If you’re staying in a hotel that’s several blocks away from tourist attractions, and getting to the attraction requires a walk down an isolated street, take a cab instead of walking. If you’re going to a popular area but know you won’t be able to find parking in the vicinity, take a cab or public transportation if it exists. If you’re going to a shopping mall and have the choice to park in an isolated parking garage or a visible lot on the street, choose the visible lot on the street. Imagine you need to rob someone for money, tonight. Think about where you would wait for victims, and avoid those places.
Be A Bad Target
Often times a predator will choose his targets based on some conception of risk vs. reward. The predator wants to get one or more things out of the attack (reward), and minimize his chance of getting injured or caught in the process (risk). There are exceptions, as some predators may be reckless, mentally ill, without self-worth, suicidal, or under the influence of drugs. But consider that very few robbers will attempt to rob a policeman in uniform, but many will rob a well dressed woman with an expensive purse, lots of jewelry, and headphones in her ears. Anything you can do to increase the risk and decrease the rewards for a potential predator, will decrease the chance that you’ll be chosen as a target.
In general, a predator will choose victims they think they can successfully attack. While you can’t change your age, height, and gender, there are some things you can do to make yourself a higher risk target. Paying attention to your surroundings is a big one. but if a predator sees he’ll be unable to take you by surprise, he’ll probably choose a target who is paying less attention. Walking around with headphones in your ears, listening to music, talking on the phone, or texting, is a sure sign you’re not paying attention. Avoid these behaviors, especially in isolated areas. Along similar lines, don’t get drunk in public. Drunk people make perfect victims.
When people are physically fit, it shows. And attacking a fit person is more risky than attacking one who is visibly out of shape. Aside from the mental and physical benefits, regular exercise and weight lifting will make you a higher risk target.
One person is easier to attack than two, two people are easier to attack than three, and so on. While groups can get attacked, the more people you’re with, the lower your chances will be.
If you know how to use it, carrying a visible weapon can significantly increase the risk to a potential attacker. Would you rather attack a woman with pepper spray in her hand, or one with nothing? Think about the type of person you’d choose to attack if you needed to get money today, if you were a rapist, or if you wanted to beat someone up to prove your manhood. What behaviors, qualities, and conditions would make you more likely to attack them? What behaviors, qualities, and conditions would make you less likely to attack them? You also don’t want a part of someone with appears to be a stun baton or stun gun device in their possession.
Again, you can’t change certain aspects of your physicality. But you can change aspects of your behavior that would be rewarding to a predator. man who is already thinking about rape? (It’s not fair, but it is true.) Think about what you’d look for in a victim, in terms of rewards, and eliminate those as best you can. If you do need to pass through a high risk area, don’t carry or wear anything that will appeal to a predator. This includes laptops, smart phones, and any other high value items you may carry in your hand or wear on your body.
Be Aware Of Your Surroundings
It’s always better to be aware and mindful, not just for self defense. Get into the habit.
Most people do the same things day after day, week after week, month after month. You should be aware of what’s normal in your neighborhood, where you walk your dog, in and around public transit areas, in and around your place of work, in the grocery store parking lot, and everywhere else you go. What kind of people do you normally see? What do they normally wear? What are they normally doing?
When something or someone is out of place, take note.
Why is there an adult man hanging around a children’s playground if he doesn’t have a child? Why is there a man leaning against a wall or peaking out from a recessed doorway? Why did those three guys split up but keep walking toward me? Why is that man wearing a jacket in the summer? Why does that kid have one hand behind his back? I’ve never seen that guy before…what’s he doing in my neighborhood?
People naturally have good instincts, and it’s extremely common for victims of crime after the fact to say they had a bad feeling about a situation, that something or someone didn’t seem right. But they ignored it. When you’ve got a bad feeling, pay attention to it!
Predators will use social conventions to their advantage. They know that it’s rude to be rude, and that nice people don’t want to be rude. They know you’ll feel strange crossing the street when they’re walking toward you, and that you probably won’t. They know you probably won’t tell them to get out of your face when they come too close, or that you’ll shake their hand when they put it out for you. The most dangerous predators won’t seem like predators on the surface, but odds are, you’ll know something isn’t right. They’ll be where they don’t belong or they’ll be doing something a normal person wouldn’t do. It may be something small, but if you’re aware and paying attention, you’ll see it. And you don’t have to be paranoid. You simply need to be aware and pay attention to your feelings.