In this series of articles we are going to cover a few things you can do to protect yourself from attack at home, at work, at the mall, or just walking down the street.
Regardless of what anyone tells you NO ONE is immune from attack! Not the 5th Degree Black Belt with hundreds of trophies for breaking mean old pieces of wood, not the Professional Bodyguard who has to follow “The Beeb’s”, not the bad ass Special Operator who has killed more Taliban than you have back hairs, and NOT YOU!
You can however mitigate the threat from violent attacks a great deal by first realizing that the world is FULL OF PREDATORS (Wolves) who want nothing more than to terrorize YOU, understanding how these wolves target their victims, and following a few simple and easy to remember steps that will make you and your family safer.
“I’ll Just Call the Police…”
One of the first things you need to wrap your head around is that the Police have no obligation to protect you from violent attack, none. The Supreme Court ruled in Warren v. District of Columbia, 1981 that police were under no obligation to protect individual citizens, but rather the citizenry at large, even if individual citizens called police for help.
Calling 911 is REACTIVE. While just about every police officer I know will try their best to get to you in time most will not arrive until after you have been assaulted, raped, robbed, or killed. That is just the sad fact of the matter and you need to decide that you are going to be responsible for your safety and not put your life, and those of your family, in the HOPE that police will arrive in time to stop you from being attacked.
The Mind of a Wolf…
Let us assume that you have pulled your head out of the sand and realized that when seconds count police are only minutes away, what now?
Before you can begin to mitigate the threat of attack you need to understand a bit about the psychology of the predators out there. It doesn’t matter if you are dealing with a con-artist, prowler, burglar, or serial rapists very rarely do these wastes of human flesh pick their victims completely at random. Doing so would be too dangerous for the predator, with a high risk of being hurt or caught. Instead they pick their victims very carefully and usually attack in three distinct phases:
- Identify a likely target (victim)-During this phase the predator is “hunting” for vulnerable prey. “Good Victims”, tend to be unaware of their surrounds (head down, don’t make eye contact, distracted by texting/talking on the phone/listening to music, etc) or they appear to have weak defenses (children, seniors, or the disabled). This series of articles will help you avoid giving the impression that you might be easy prey.
- Test the target- To lower the risk of being hurt or caught the predator will often “test” the cooperativeness of their intended victim. This can be done covertly by watching you and your daily habits to see when the best time to attack you is. Or it can be done overtly by engaging you in conversation and asking questions that seem innocent to you but are in reality, a “psychological test” that will give the predator an edge.
- Assault the target- Once the predator has become reasonably confident he/she isn’t going to be caught or hurt and the assault will be successful, they attack.
Unfortunately it is far beyond the scope of these articles to offer specific self-defense techniques you can use to counter violent encounters,-though we do offer specific classes that address the complex issues of dealing with violence.
However by following the tips and tricks in this series of articles you can substantially lower your risk of ever getting to the third step of an assault. As I stated earlier you can never totally eliminate the possibility of a violent encounter and that is why physical training in dealing with assault is a vital part of any personal protection strategy. By understanding what a violent predator looks for in their prey it is easier to avoid attracting them in the first place.
Protecting Yourself at Home…
No home is, or ever will be, completely burglar-proof, but by making your house a difficult target you can greatly reduce your risk of assault and becoming a victim. It doesn’t matter if you live in an apartment, house, or condominium strengthening your home against assault begins by looking at it in the same way a predator would.
“Case the Joint…”
Start the process of fortifying your home by looking at your house or apartment from the predators point of view. “Case the joint” as a predator would and look for the weak spots in your defenses. Ask yourself, “How would I break into this place?” Remember that predators prefer to work in concealment when they can and keep the following questions in mind as you go about “casing” your house or apartment.
- Are your windows and doors hidden from view? Avoid giving burglars and other predators privacy when breaking into your home. Areas of particular concern are windows and doors hidden by high grass or hedges, entry ways hidden from view, garage to house doorways, or deep window wells where a predator can work unseen and undisturbed.
- Do you offer predators access to loosely protected windows or balconies via trellises, downspouts, and utility poles. Some predators specialize in 2nd story entry or “balcony hopping” where they move from one apartment to the next by way of balconies Don’t assume that a high window is a secure window, once the predator has made it inside they can simply walk out the front door when they are done victimizing you.
Do you display signs that say “I’m not home”? Predators quite often learn the habits of their potential victims, and they know what an empty (no one home) looks like. When you leave home for vacation avoid the habit of allowing papers and mail to stack up. You’d be surprised at the number of people who overlooking even this most basic security measure. Timed lights TV’s that turn on while you are away (even just at work) at the same time are great, but alternating the interval is even better. Home Depot, Lowe’s, Wal-Mart, and other stores offer a wide variety of timers that can turn on multiple lights or TV’s and some can be programmed to vary the time at which they are turned on. Keep in mind that a single light that never turns off is a sure sign that no one is home.
Do you leave overwhelming temptations to would-be predators? Did you leave the box for that 70″ LED flat screen TV on the curb for the trash man? Or do you place the expensive TV or computer where it can be plainly seen from a window for the whole world to see? Do you have particularly weak basement windows, cellar doors, or garage doors? Do you leave your garage door open allowing easy access to your car, bicycles, tools, or even entry into your house? DO you leave bank and credit card statements intact in the trash (see our article on why that’s a bad idea here)? Do you leave a “spare key” in obvious places like under the door mat, in a planter, or under the cushions on porch furniture? All of these things are an invitation to would be predators that say, “Come in You’re Welcome here.”
Do you have unprotected openings into your house? Do you have vents, skylights, or unlocked doors or windows? SECURE THEM! Don’t forget 2nd story windows!
Develop Healthy Security Habits
- Make sure you ALWAYS return home to a lighted house! Home Depot, Lowe’s Wal-Mart, and other stores offer a wide variety of timers.
- NEVER enter a house or apartment that has been tampered with or looks like it has been broken into! If you surprise a burglar it may cause him to panic and attack you. It is better to back off and call 911.
- Never open your door for a stranger, EVER, and NEVER let a stranger into your house! If someone comes to your door asking for help, offer to call police or someone else for them, this can be done without ever opening the door. If for some reason you do have to open the door for a stranger (the UPS guy, for example) try to create the illusion that you are not alone by shouting to the next room at an imaginary person, “It’s the UPS guy…” or by having the shower running, as examples.
- Do not fall prey to sympathy if a child comes to your door looking for help. Currently in Aurora, CO there is a group of home invaders that has struck at least a dozen times, that police know of, that are using an 8-9 year old child as a means of getting the door open. The child knocks on the door asking for help either finding a dog or claiming he is lost, once the door is opened, even an inch, the home invaders strike. They have stolen thousands of dollars worth of property and in one case held the woman hostage for over 6 hours while they repeatedly raped her while her young children watched.
- When you leave your house, even for a minute, LOCK THE DOOR!
- Be aware that your telephone holds more than just phone numbers, now many of us have banking apps, personal information, and countless other things a predator can use. Never leave you phone alone and if you do have to make sure that the phone is password protected to prevent a predator for gaining any information about you.
- If you live alone, and this is especially true for women, use “we” on your answering machine and not “I”. If possible have a male friend (if you are female)record your greeting message and better yet use the generic greeting that comes on most modern answering machines and cell phones.
These are just a few of the steps you can take and things to look for to mitigate the chance being victimized in your home. In our next article we will look at a few of the deterrents you can use and implement around your home to further mitigate the chances of becoming a victim in your own home.
I look forward to seeing your comments and as always, Train to Survive!
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