Staying safe is your number one priority. Avoiding dangerous places, that is the number one rule of self-defense. If you avoid places where violence is likely to occur, you’ll dramatically decrease the chance you’ll even be considered as a target. The following are considered dangerous places:
High Crime Areas: Some countries, cities, and areas are known for having high levels of crime. Even in regions that are generally safe, there are often specific geographic locations where high levels of crime regularly occur. Even if violence in such areas isn’t targeting people like you, it’s possible to get caught in the crossfire. In your own city, if there are high crime areas, you probably know where they are. Avoid them. Don’t travel to other cities or countries with high crime rates. If you do enjoy travelling, there is a lifetime of safe destinations to visit. Travelling to a dangerous city or country is not worth the risk, particularly when there are so many safe alternatives. Before travelling to a new destination, look into the crime statistics and avoid the high crime areas. Again, avoiding dangerous places is a must.
Among Violent People: Violence is more likely to occur in the presence of violent people. Obviously, the former section, high crime areas, ranks at the top of the list for being among violent people. In addition, violence often takes place where groups of young males hang out, particularly where they’re drinking. If you avoid bars, parties, and other such locations, the chance you’ll even see such violence is slim. If you’re not a young male, then these locations won’t pose the same level of risk. Violence is also common in violent groups, but exposure to it requires being in a group with a propensity toward violence. If you’re not a member of a violent group, you don’t hang out in the same places as such groups, and you’re not in a relationship with a violent individual, you’re covered. If you are a member of a violent group, or you’re in a relationship with a violent individual, there’s only one thing you need to do: Get out now. It may not be easy, but you can do it.
Among People Who Don’t Like You: Places where you’re different from everyone else and where that difference isn’t well accepted can be dangerous. If you’re a white American male walking around in Tokyo, it’s highly unlikely you’re going to have a problem, even though you are different, and you will stick out. But if you’re a white American male walking around in Afghanistan…well that’s a different story. Avoid places where you’ll stick out and people tend not to like your kind.
Verbal Escalations: When two or more people begin to argue, with escalating verbal tension, the likelihood of violence increases. Some individuals need to psych themselves up in order to become violent, and progress from talking quietly and being relatively still to yelling and using bigger physical movements before becoming physically violent. Verbal conflicts can happen in any physical location, but because they require an escalation, you can avoid that “place”. Avoid arguments, conflicts, and provoking people. And remember, it’s possible for a person to perceive that you provoked them even if you think otherwise. It’s better to be even nicer and less provocative than you may think necessary. Tread carefully in places or groups where you don’t know the social conventions.
In-Between Places: Violence is easier to successfully use and get away with where there are few witnesses. But there must be someone available to attack. “In-between places” are those where people commonly pass through, but not too frequently, for example, between parking lots and tourist attractions, on jogging and hiking trails, on isolated side streets, in parking garages, and on the way to mail rooms from apartment complexes. Attackers can wait in these places, knowing that victims will pass through, and they’ll likely have some time alone with the victim. In-between places where people are more likely to have money or valuables are an even better location for criminals looking for money. Once again, Avoiding dangerous places is your best chance of survival.
As best you can, avoid these in-between-places. If you’re staying in a hotel that’s several blocks away from tourist attractions and getting to the attraction requires a walk down an isolated street, take a cab instead of walking. If you’re going to a popular area but know you won’t be able to find parking in the vicinity, take a cab or public transportation if it exists. If you’re going to a shopping mall and have the choice to park in an isolated parking garage or a visible lot on the street, choose the visible lot on the street. Imagine you need to rob someone for money, tonight. Think about where you would wait for victims and avoid those places.
A rapist or serial killer doesn’t need his victim to have money and may be willing to wait for a longer period of time. If you were a rapist and wanted to ambush a woman, where would you do it? On a jogging trail near a college campus, but not too near? On a path between an apartment complex and the mail room, not visible from the street? Avoid these in-between-places if possible, and when you can’t, be sure to follow the rest of the advice in this chapter.
Lawless Places: Some countries and areas are relatively lawless, particularly in times of war and internal conflict. In these places, criminals can get away with nearly anything. Avoiding dangerous places applies! If you chose not to avoid them, then minimize your time and exposure in them.
A few safety tips to keep in mind
Attacks might not be common in your area but being aware of safety precautions will make everyone a little safer. Just because your area feels safe, it doesn’t mean it is, attacks can happen anywhere, anytime and to anyone. Staying safe is your number one priority.
Avoid walking alone, especially at night. Traveling with a buddy or a group of friends greatly reduces the risk of being a victim of crime.
If you must walk at night, use public, well-lit walkways and avoid dark, isolated areas.
Let someone know where you’re going and when you should be back. In case of an emergency, someone will be able to report to authorities about your whereabouts.
Do not display valuables as you walk. Money, credit cards, and expensive jewelry may be attractive to a potential robber. Purses should be kept tucked closely under your arm.
Be aware of your surroundings. Appearing alert instead of being immersed in texting or talking on the phone will lessen the chances of an attacker selecting you as their victim.
Dress for freedom of movement. If there is a chase, you want to be able to run.
If you see someone suspicious or who alarms you for any reason, contact police immediately. Reporting potential dangers can ensure that everything is safe for you and those around you. Staying safe is your number one priority.
In the event you are being followed, changing direction, such as crossing the street, could help evade a potential attacker. Continuously looking back so the person realizes you are aware of their presence is another option when being trailed. Immediately get to a well-lit and populated area if possible and try to notice as many physical details that you can so that describing the person to the police later will be easier. As soon as it’s safe to do so, report the incident to the police.
For a predator to attack you, he necessarily needs three things: intent, means, and opportunity. Denying him any one of those three things makes it impossible for him to attack. The easiest way to do that is to avoid a predator so completely that he is not only denied the opportunity to attack you, but also the intent as it specifically relates to you. If you’re not on his radar, he can’t even intend to attack you. You can accomplish this to a very significant degree simply by avoiding dangerous places. If you’re unable to avoid a predator, making yourself a bad target is the next best thing.
If a predator does choose you as a target, you can still deny him the opportunity to attack you. By being aware of your surroundings, paying attention to warning signs, and noticing pre-attack indicators, you can spot a predator and deny him the close distance he needs to attack you by using space and/or objects in your environment. And even if you are approached by a predator, you can de-escalate the situation and avoid physical violence using a variety of measures. Staying safe is your number one priority.
If you’ve taken the steps above, it’s highly unlikely it will go that far. But even when a predator has the intent and opportunity to attack, we can take away his means or ability through physical self-defense. Remember, avoiding dangerous places is a priority. Staying safe is your number one priority.