Attackers don’t always look the way we expect them to. There are wolves in sheep’s clothing.
Predators will typically select a victim within seven seconds. Assaults will most often be presaged by dialogue. Sometimes a criminal will want to suss you out. Next he will reassure you that he is harmless. Then he will try to distract you before initiating an assault. He may ask you the time or ask for directions. He may be charming at first but you can expect split second reversals and extreme threats.
Statistics show that pleading and acquiescence, to sexual assaults in particular, are highly ineffective. Understanding attack rituals however, may buy you the time you need to take pre-emptive action, and fighting back will often leave victims in a much better psychological state.
A bodyguard would say that there are two things that you can do: harden the target or lower their profile. Read our article on States of Awareness and stay ‘switched on’. Putting a burglar alarm on your house doesn’t make your place harder to break into, but it will make it more hassle, and burglars routinely select the house that is the least trouble. It is the same with you; if you are switched on, most criminals, sensing this, will deselect you as a target.
Avoid becoming ‘task fixated’ so the attack won’t seem to have ‘come out of nowhere’. Be vigilant getting in and out of cars. Lock car doors and never approach an open car window to talk to someone. If followed by a car whilst walking, reverse direction suddenly. Tell your children to drop their school bag and run home, or back to school – whichever is closest. Do not take shortcuts, be wary of displaying expensive jewellery and use your phone to keep your friends aware of your whereabouts. Do not chase bag snatchers unless you are certain that you know what you are going to do, should you catch them.
One of the greatest misnomers is ‘self-defence’, as rarely will you be by yourself. Even if you are, how will your family feel if you are beaten and brutalised? Never feel humiliated because you handed over your money to a mugger. If it was the smart move; then that’s that!
Do not try to understand your attacker. Career criminals will lie to you about anything and everything and they do not care at all about right and wrong. If you try to predict their behaviour based on how you would behave, you will fail. Other times, people simply lose it. In ‘displaced aggression’ events, your attacker may be furious over things which are completely outside of your control, yet you are on the firing line. With this kind of aggressive challenger, try to look confident and avoid eye contact.
If you hand over your wallet to a mugger, whilst his focus is diverted, take any opportunity to leave. You don’t want to end up immobile in a corner. If shifty individuals approach you, get your hands up. Do not look aggressive, but keep your hands up! Never allow anyone to take you from one place to another. If they just want to rob you then there is no reason to move. Do not believe anything they say to the contrary. Never, ever, get into a vehicle. If these events are unavoidable then you should take action.
Incidentally, whilst perhaps one in two hundred people are psychopaths in European society, very few of these will ever be violent. Also whilst there is a capacity in ordinary people for great malevolence as illustrated by the Nazis et al, the majority of serious crime in Ireland is committed by people suffering withdrawal from heroin, and they just want some cash. The truth about people is that empathy and altruism are more dominant traits than selfishness, but that fact doesn’t get ratings on TV.
For more information see our article on Geoff Thompson’s book Dead or Alive.