As you are driving down the road, you take note of an angry driver flipping you off and yelling. You proceed for a block or so without a response until you find yourself idling next to the aggressor at the same red light. The red-faced driver vaults from his car and starts pounding on your window and shouting curse-riddled threats.
He obviously wants satisfaction. He expects to fulfill it by making you listen to his rant, teaching you a lesson, or watching you cower in fear.
You didn’t ask for this and you didn’t want it. You don’t even know the guy! But suddenly, on his terms, you are forced into an explosive relationship with this person.
Criminal violence is a relationship. It’s a sucky relationship, to be sure, but the target’s voluntary participation is not required. The bad guys grab control, forcing their will on another so they can quench their need for sadism, manipulation, venting, power, or fulfilled entitlement. They can’t do it alone; they need to find others to make this happen. From the moment a rapist starts to view you as a target, an attacker notices you watching his assault on another, or the carjacker picks your vehicle, you can be forced into a violent relationship.
Most of us don’t think this way. That’s why we are the good guys and they are the bad guys. I give people this perspective of violence because if you see an attack as a relationship to avoid — as an interaction with a beginning, middle, and end — your mind is on familiar ground instead of headed toward panic mode.
That level of understanding increases you power to deal with crime and helps you Think Like a Black Belt.
Let’s take the road rage example. You may not know what you did to tick off the man in need of anger management classes, so you already missed the Beginning stage of the scenario, but you can affect the Middle and the End. At the first sign of trouble, you could make an abrupt exit off the road or slow down so much he is forced to move on in traffic. Avoidance, in this case, is certainly the better part of valor. It stops the incident in its tracks.
If it’s not possible to avoid, then thinking ahead for such scenarios is good and puts the Ending part all in your hands: a cell phone to dial 9-1-1 or a well-trained Doberman attack dog in the back seat. You could also keep a card in your vehicles to hand to the person through a slit in the window that reads: “Dear Sir or Ma’am, My daughter is deaf from a rare disease. (The doctors say she’s not contagious.) In emergencies — or if she starts projectile vomiting or having a seizure — please call 9-1-1 and contact me, Metro Police Chief Jack “The Ripper” Carter at 555-123-5050. Thank you for your patience.”
OK, that last bit was a bit over the top, but you can see many ways exist to think outside the box when it comes to your own safety. One key to doing this is to release yourself from the idea that an attacker is an all-powerful, monstrous figure with nothing but killing and chaos on his mind as he pulls you through unending pain, loss, or trauma. Instead, view the attacker as trying to force a relationship on you that will have a beginning, middle, and end. All along that continuum of time you can take self defense actions to prevent, to direct, or to alter the situation so you can escape their version of the relationship.
Think back to negative relationships that seemed out of your control. Try to view them differently now as you break them down into their beginning, middle, and end. Think of where in that time line you might have made changes to create a better outcome.