How to Protect Yourself Against Crime
Experts give advice on ways to fend off criminals -- and avoid danger in the first place.
How safe are you? If government statistics are any indication, there's reason to feel somewhat secure. Yet this is no time to be complacent. Many criminals prey on people who are off guard. Criminals look for people who are not paying attention to their surroundings, and then use the element of surprise to their advantage. The police are doing every thing they can to keep these things from happening. But we all now that they can’t be everywhere at one time. Everyone should learn basic self-defense; you never know when it could save your life.
Victims From All Walks of Life
Criminals don't want to get caught. They ask themselves, 'Does this person look attackable? Does this person look vulnerable? Can I get away with something here?' AND THEY WILL MAKE SURE THE POLICE AREN’T GOING TO BE AROUND.
In the U.S., criminals were able to carry out 24 million crimes in 2004. For every 1,000 people age 12 and older, there occurred:
- 1 rape or sexual assault
- 2 assaults with injury
- 2 robberies
Regardless of the improved crime rate, crime still affects everyone in all types of neighborhoods; it crosses economic and racial lines.
Taking Charge of Your Safety
It is a reality. People are being victimized or are being targeted to be victims each and every day. To avoid becoming a victim, you need to take charge of your own safety. There are no guarantees, but actively tuning your thoughts and actions toward crime prevention and self-defense can help lower chances of becoming a casualty.
Expert advice shows you how to avoid dangerous situations and how to defend yourself once you're in them. If you regularly practice the recommended ways of thinking and acting, there is hope that you will not become a victim, but rather, an active defender of your life and property.
Preventing crime from happening requires an active mind and body. It means paying attention to your instincts, to other people, and to your surroundings. It means constantly training your brain and limbs to act defensively. It is more than just a few martial arts moves. It is a way of life. Security has to be habitual. If you allow yourself to get into a lax way of thinking when it pertains to your security, it is very difficult to change that pattern when you find yourself [in not-so-safe situations].
To clarify his point... some people have security alarms in their homes but do not turn on. The hardware does nothing to thwart burglars if it is not used. People have an internal alarm as well. It usually tells them they are walking into a bad situation. Yet many ignore it because they have a false sense of security or are in denial that crime can happen to them.
5 Ways to Avoid Danger
To fine-tune your personal alarm, crime experts make the following suggestions:
- Trust yourself. Many times, your eyes, ears, nose, skin, and tongue will give clues indicating that something threatening is ahead. Another powerful indicator, widely known as a sixth sense, can also hint at danger. Trust yourself when something doesn't seem right.
- Be aware of your surroundings. No matter how safe you think a neighborhood might be, it's still not a good idea to leave the front door open, your valuables in the car, your purse on top of your office desk, or to flaunt all of your expensive jewelry and other belongings. These actions simply provide temptation and opportunity for offenders. Its sound advise against walking through dark, isolated alleys, fields, or parking lots. Bad things happen in "safe" areas all the time. In fact, would-be attackers lurk around places where they can have the opportunity to catch people off guard, and remain anonymous. Again, they usually don't want to get caught.
- Pay attention to the people around you. This advice is part of both listening to your instincts and being aware of your surroundings. You can often sense peoples' intentions just by the way they look at you. Heed warning signs even when you are with people you know and trust. In 2004, U.S. Department of Justice statistics show seven in 10 female rape or sexual assault victims stated the offender was an intimate, a relative, a friend, or an acquaintance. A questionable look from people you know can gradually advance to touching or words that may make you feel uncomfortable. Tell someone else about the warning signs, someone who can help you, so we can prevent this.
- Act confident and focused. Just as you can sense people's feelings, others can sense yours as well. Predators look for people who are meek, mild, weak, unfocused, and distracted. Criminals are looking for easy pickings. They're looking for someone who they can take by surprise and will likely not resist. Present yourself in an assertive manner. When walking down the street, make eye contact with people who look at you. That signals the would-be offender that you are in charge and aware that they are there.
- Understand that alcohol or drugs can cloud judgment. Certain substances can certainly dull your senses and slow down your reaction time to danger. They can also lower other people's inhibitions and make them more aggressive or belligerent. It is for this reason that certain places like bars and pubs may present some danger, particularly if they're crowded. He also says mutual drinking can increase chances of rape or sexual assault among people who know each other.
How to Defend Yourself
Taking steps to prevent crime can help lower chances of an attack, but there are no guarantees of complete safety. For this reason, it's a good idea to have several plans on how to defend yourself and your property.
Think through what you will do. Will you willingly give up your wallet or your purse, and if you're willing to do that, isn't it a good idea to make a photocopy of all my ID and credit cards and keep it in a safe place? Or will you keep it? What will you do then? Some of the plans will depend upon a person's age, sex, and personal fitness, but even highly-trained FBI agents/Seals can get caught off guard and have no qualms about escape as their primary plan.
Fight or Flee?
There is some debate over whether fleeing or fighting back will provide the least risk. Some say it's best to err on the conservative side, which is to run away if possible. If escape is not an option, experts suggest firm resistance, particularly in cases of rape or sexual assault. With people you know, he urges being clear about saying "No" to sex, and to avoid flirting or mixed messages. With both intimates and strangers; physically resisting and then escaping is the best option.
Submitting to an attack because of fear does not prevent it. Surveys and anecdotal evidence show the difference between rapists who have completed rape and those who have attempted it is their victims' reaction. In the completed rape, the victim usually froze and submitted, In the attempted rape, the victim fought, resisted, and escaped. Experts say people who fight back may have more chance of injury, but they have better chances of survival. You might get a black eye or a broken arm, but if you don't get raped, the black eye and the broken arm is going to heal far quicker than the trauma of being raped.
Tips for Escaping or Fighting Back
How do you escape, fight, and survive? Experts offer the following tips:
- Have an escape plan. Wherever you are or wherever you are going, know the layout of the place and visualize an escape route. Thinking this way is not being paranoid, it's being cautious. If you're at home, knowing where your power switch is, and knowing your way in the dark, can give you an advantage over intruders. If you're outside, knowing the layout of the town -- where the sketchy areas are, where populated streets and venues are -- can help you to both prevent and escape an encounter with an attacker. If you're at work, knowing the structure of the building can give you an idea where to flee.
- Train your body. You don't have to have the physique of a football player to defend yourself, but it helps to be in relatively good shape. How can you rely on yourself if you're not physically fit? Could you run? Could you kick them? Could you last a little bit in a battle? Remember, you don't have to win the fight against an attacker. You just need to be able to survive it.
- React quickly to danger. Response time is critical. Since the offender is counting on a surprise ambush to carry out his crime, you need to use the same element of surprise to escape or counterattack. This could mean running toward lights and people, or it could mean screaming or making noise with whatever you have to get other people's attention. If you're grabbed by the wrist, try to juggle your hand so that you can pull it away in the area where the attacker's fingers can open up. If escaping is not an option, a quick and efficient self-defense is key. If you're just flailing about, you may be ineffectively exerting energy, and that will cause you to question what you're doing. Strik only at vital targets, which are areas of the body where you can inflict the most pain and damage. This will likely make it easier to disable the offender and get away.
- Disable the criminal. Causing Injury To The Other Guy Is The ONLY Thing That Allows You To Walk Away... Alive.You are going to have to really hurt the criminal in order to make him want to stop what he is doing... AND NOT just cause a little pain to make him mad. Now, I know that you've been taught to not hurt or injure anyone all your life, but this is different. The criminal doesn't care about you... he wants to hurt you... make you afraid. Some vital targets which can be hurt/disabled with little effort include the nose, eyes, temples, ears, windpipe, knees, insteps, toes, skull, groin, and spine.
I recommend aiming for the nose, eyes, and knees. Have you ever tried catching someone with tears in your eyes and can't see where you are going. Have you tried to run with a broken toe or hurt knee?
For more information about how to defend yourself and avoid crime, check out classes that are often available at schools, local community centers, local martial arts facilities, and hospitals. Check out books on self-defense (Krav Maga) and talking with your local crime prevention officer.
With our thoughts and actions focused on crime prevention and protection, we can hopefully do our best to make our part of the world a safer place to live.