Awareness: The Cornerstone of Self Defense
Defensive Awareness. Threat Awareness. Situational Awareness.
Whatever you call it, Awareness is the Cornerstone of Self Defense. The truth is, thugs prefer to target inattentive, distracted and preoccupied people.
Why? Because thugs want an easy victim. They want to get what they want and then get away. They don't want to get hurt or caught.
So, the first line of self defense is to be aware of your surroundings.
If you can see danger coming toward you, you have a much better chance at avoiding it... of getting yourself to safety before anything bad happens. It's better to avoid a dangerous situation than to have to defend yourself after you are attacked.
Making Eye Contact
Thugs sometimes "test" potential victims through eye contact. If someone responds by quickly looking down or to the side, that person may become their next victim. Predators prefer people who appear intimidated and who won't look them in the eye. They consider them an easy victim.
Making eye contact with a potential thug makes you a less desirable victim. When you make eye contact, you show them that you are aware of them. Thugs like the element of surprise. So they prefer their victims to be unaware.
But remember, don't stare them down. Otherwise, they might mistake your stare as a challenge. Simply let them know that you see them. And that you are paying attention.
Awareness While Walking in Public
Walk with someone else whenever possible. And avoid walking at night if you can.
Be aware of your body language when you're walking in public. Keep your head up, your shoulders back and your hands out of your pockets. You'll look confident. Most predators aren't looking for a confrontation. So they tend to avoid confident looking people.
Be alert. Look around. And actually notice what's going on around you. This way, you'll see any signs of potential danger. And you'll have time to react.
Related Post: "How to be Safe When You're Out Walking"
If someone you don't know is getting to close to you, physically, the first thing to do is to move away from them. If that doesn't work, make eye contact and tell them to stay away. And be firm about it.
Seek help from Police, Security or someone else that you trust. Hey... if it turns out you misunderstood the situation, you could end up being embarrassed. But so what? That's so much easier to recover from than an assault!
Awareness and Your Cell Phone
When you are on your cell phone in public, you are easy prey.
Think about it... when you are talking on your phone, you are devoting your attention to the conversation instead of your environment. You can't possibly have 100% awareness of your surroundings if you're carrying on a conversation. Remember, predators like having the element of surprise. It makes their job easier.
Avoid posting, texting or talking on your phone when you're in public. Unless it's an emergency, of course.
Where are the Exits?
When you enter a shopping center, a classroom, a parking garage, a theater, or any other place, look around.
Where are the exits? Where are your potential paths of escape? Are there barriers you can hide behind if escape is impossible?
Violence can break out wherever you are and you need to be able to respond quickly. Plan ahead and know where the exits and escape paths are. It could save your life. And, no, you aren't being paranoid. You're being smart.
Awareness in the Parking Lot
When you are putting groceries in your trunk or the back of your SUV after shopping, you are vulnerable to thugs. Since your back is turned to any potential threat, and because you're concentrating on getting the bags packed in the car, it's difficult to see what's going on around you.
So, before you begin, take a good look around. Make sure no suspicious person is lurking nearby. And continue to look around as you load your bags. Constantly be aware of what's going on around you so you can react if necessary.
Some stores like to make their cart corrals look attractive by planting bushes on either side of the corral. Nice, full, attractive bushes where it's easy for thugs to hide. Especially after dark.
So what do you do? Use the cart corral anyway? Return the cart to the store? Leave the cart by your car? (If you must, then so be it. Better a disgruntled employee than you becoming a polite victim!)
Whatever you choose to do, be ever vigilant and aware. Don't allow thugs to take you by surprise.
Aware Today... Alive Tomorrow
"Surprise, intimidation, and fear are the key elements of a robbery. Awareness, preparedness, and avoidance are your best defenses. Don't be afraid or embarrassed to leave an area in which you are not comfortable. Keep your valuables hidden and purse closed, especially when you are in an unfamiliar area. Keep a sharp eye out for anything that doesn't seem right to you. Be ready to run."
~Cathy Steinberg, The Fabulous Girl's Guide to being Fearless
You can choose to be inattentive and oblivious. And you might get away with it... until your path crosses a thug's path.
You can decrease your chances of becoming a victim by removing your blinders and choosing to be aware of your surroundings.
Related Post: "6 Ways to Avoid Becoming a Predator's Target"