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No one wants this kind of relationship!

As you are driving down the road, you take note of an angry driver flipping you off and yelling. You proceed for a roadrageblock 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.

Take-away exercise:

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.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • cindy platt May 26, 2009, 10:33 pm

    Whew! Where were you in my life 20 years ago? My abusive father was a 20 year Air Force veteran and ruled the home with fear and intimidation. I thought that was just how life was suppose to be and as a dependent as he lovingly called his children I had no choice, but to accept what was given to me. Consequently, I internalized that sort of grooming and thought that was what I deserved. I turned 43 a couple of weeks ago and it has taken me 23 years to retrain and rewire my brain to react to the trigger differently. My time line is sharper and when I feel the spidey senses tingling there is nothing after the beginning. I stop the bad behavior immediately with silence, zero affect expression and non negotiable body language. This technique works well in the classroom also. I have silenced a room of caotic inner city 5th graders throwing chairs without raising my voice or threats. When confrontational adults have crossed my path silence and body language has always helped me persevere through the moment. There is no fire without the fuel of language. This doesn’t mean I don’t fall apart once I am out of the situation, but nothing takes the steam away from an angry person faster than no reaction, as if they did not exist. Love your site.

  • Lori Hoeck May 27, 2009, 7:33 am

    Hi Cindy —
    Thank you for commenting. Wow. My heart goes out to you for living through and then overcoming all that. When this site settles a bit, I’d love a guest post from you on your Run Silent, Run Deep technique. My husband calls your silent mode “giving off a null reading.” It is a tough thing to master, but it creates a huge effect on others because they have to stop and wonder what’s going on behind the mask. It would be wonderful for you to pass that on to others as a self defense option.

  • Writer Dad May 27, 2009, 10:47 am

    Well that’s just weird. Never before have I gone to drop a comment and seen my wife’s name sitting up at the top. HI HONEY!

    Cindy’s spidey senses are SUPER strong.

  • MV Welsh May 27, 2009, 12:11 pm

    Living alone and frequently driving several hundred miles alone; I am looking forward to this website information and appreciate that you offer it and I anticipate the coming E book on this subject.

  • Lori Hoeck May 27, 2009, 12:33 pm

    Hi Writer Dad,
    Just wait, she’ll become such a rising star online that you become Mr. CindyPlatt.com. Thank you for stopping by. I’m glad Cindy’s spidey senses rock. It makes everyone safer.

    Hi MV Welsh,
    Next time you visit, I’ll teach you how to whack punks with a cane — and look good doing it!

  • Becky Blanton May 28, 2009, 5:21 pm

    wow. This happened to me at a red light in Denver years ago. The guy ahead of me pulled out in the intersection to “beat” the yellow light, got trapped and then tried to back up into the turn lane that was occupied by ME!! I literally couldn’t move – there was a guy behind me. So Mr. Road Rage starts ramming his SUV into my truck like THAT will make me move! Then he gets out, walks back and starts pounding on the window and cursing. I check to make sure he has no weapon in his hand and then I just stare straight ahead and ignored him until he tired of pounding. I then turned left, pulled into a parking lot and called 911 (this was before cellphones) who never responded because they couldn’t figure out whose jurisdiction it was in!!! City or county!!! What jerks! Mr. Road Rage pulled into the parking lot behind me, I screamed, “I’m on the phone with the cops, you’d better wait. They want to talk to you.” At that point he sped off.

    Yeah – null works. A 9mm or Glock or Rottweiler works better, but null works.

  • Lori Hoeck May 28, 2009, 8:25 pm

    Hi Becky,
    I like your quick thinking with the line about being on the phone with the cops. Guns can certainly be effective, but not everyone has one or is trained with them. Your tough-mindedness won the day and that’s what I want people to learn here.

  • Laurie May 29, 2009, 3:34 pm

    That actually happened to my hub. He was stuck at a red light in 5 o’clock traffic that wasn’t moving. He had ticked off another driver without meaning to and the guy got out of his car and was banging on my hubs window demanding he get out of his car. The guy went and got back in his car, waited a moment the returned to banging on my hubs window. It was freaky. FINALLY the traffic moved a bit and the hub made an exit. Some folks are plain crazy!

  • Lori Hoeck May 29, 2009, 8:53 pm

    Hi Laurie,
    No doubt about it, some folks let their anger get the best of them. Thankfully not all of them know how to break a car window easily and settle for banging instead. Scary being inside, but safer than jumping out and starting an argument!

  • Sara May 30, 2009, 6:23 am


    This is my first visit to your site and I liked this post very much!

    For some reason the words, “Think like a black belt” jumped out at me. It made me think of a friend who is a black belt. He almost never gets angry at situations, like road rage. He’ll even apologize or do whatever he can to calm the situation.

    I asked him why he did this and he said that when you know you can kill someone instantly, you have an obligation to be careful with your anger.

    I’m not always like him. I tend to overreact and cause more problems…but it does me think about this…what if I did “think like a black belt?”

    I enjoyed your post and your site:~)

  • Lori Hoeck May 30, 2009, 8:06 am

    Hi Sara,
    Thank you for visiting and commenting. I used to overact when I was in my early adult years, but I rarely liked the results!
    Your friend is so right, black belts do have an obligation to be one of the good guys or gals, and yet, don’t we all?

  • Catherine Thomas June 6, 2009, 5:17 pm

    Hi Lori! I love love love the site! Everyone needs to see it. EVERYONE! I can display a link here and there if you like? Let me know. Greg was right, you’re still kicking major butt. Love ya!

  • Lori Hoeck June 6, 2009, 6:51 pm

    Hi Catherine,
    Good to hear from you on this site! Thank you for your official stamp of ka-pow! approval.

    I’d love for any and all to put the link to here around the web; to tweet, digg, stumble, or bookmark it if they see fit; or even to send a telegraph if they think someone else can benefit or enjoy the information here on self defense. Thanks for asking!