If someone attacked you, what would you do?
What if you had been at the Virginia Tech massacre on April 16, 2007?
If you faced a natural disaster, could you cope?
What if you had been trying to shelter in the Superdome during Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath?
If an emergency popped up in front of you, would you be able to handle it?
What if you had been a passenger aboard US Airways Flight 1549 as Captain Chelsey “Sully” Sullenberger landed in the Hudson River last January?
People can react at least five ways to these kinds of survival situations:
- They become hysterical.
- They panic and trample others trying to save themselves.
- They freeze completely as mind and body shut down.
- They act like they are God’s gift to the survival world.
- They start responding and coping.
Do you know how you would react? Have you been tested or trained to move past the frozen or freak out mode?
According to Amanda Ripley in her Time Magazine article from June 9, 2008 on “How to Survive a Disaster,” people more often freeze when faced with survival situations. She writes, “Contrary to popular expectations … Crowds generally become quiet and docile. Panic is rare. The bigger problem is that people do too little, too slowly. They sometimes shut down completely, falling into a stupor.”
She adds, “Our brains search, under extreme stress, for an appropriate survival response and sometimes choose the wrong one, like deer that freeze in the headlights of a car.”
The same kind of response can happen to people facing an attacker.
According to Ripley, the key to survival is learning a skill set. In her article, various people refer to the skill set as “a knowing,” “a blueprint,” or “a ritual to follow.” If a person has never thought through danger, disaster, or self defense, there is nothing to fall back on as an instinctive response.
We all remember when the planes hit the twin towers in New York City on 9-11. People that day reacted stunned and amazed, just as Ripley explains. New Yorkers at that moment had no point of reference.
But recently when Air Force One flew very low into New York City airspace, it sparked a memory of that very past. Those who saw the plane at what seemed skyscraper height had a very stark and powerful point of reference. Hundreds of people evacuated their buildings in response. Many of them flooded elevators shaking, sweating, and crying — all of them thinking the worse.
But they were moving, taking action, and grabbing what control over the situation they could because they had a “blueprint” from few years back to guide them.
Fortunately, people with even a small sense of control over their situation perform better that those who believe they have no control. When you realize you have options, you are enabled to take more effective action.
In self defense situations, the more you know about your own skills and the flow of physical, mental or emotional violence, the more likely you will be to respond in a way that keeps you safe.
This website is dedicated to providing that self defense knowledge. I hope you subscribe to stay current with the articles and discover more about keeping you and your family safer.
- Put yourself in the situations I mentioned at the beginning of this post. Which of the five ways do you think you would react to the situations? Would you be the robot in Lost in Space waving his arms and yelling “Danger, Will Robinson. Danger!” or would you be able to face it like Bruce Willis’ character in the Die Hard movies?
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