Just this week, while making her way to work at 8am in the morning, a young woman fell victim to an unprovoked attack on Dublin’s Grafton Street. One startling comment she made following the assault was her surprise at how many people rushed past her pretending not to notice what was happening! It took a couple of minutes before a guy finally stepped in to assist her.
This shows how you cannot always depend on other people for your own safety. You need to be your own body guard, and to be able to take responsibility for yourself.
What if something like this happened to me, what could I do to try prevent it?
1. Awareness & Intuition.
How switched on are you to your surroundings? Be honest with yourself, how often do you walk down the street texting, taking a call etc.? Most of us do this regularly, and without harm. However, unfortunately, if a predator is lurking you are most likely their next target. Why? Because you’re completely switched off to your surroundings and he knows this! Your mind is busy; engrossed in the phone conversation. To a predator you are an easy target and all he sees is you holding cash to your ear.
It's also equally important to trust your gut. In the animal kingdom, when they sense danger, they bolt immediately! Animals don’t second guess their intuition. So why when us humans sense danger that we start convincing ourselves ‘ah, he looks ok, I’ll share the taxi with him’ or ‘she’s well dressed, I trust what she’s telling me’. Listen to your intuition; it’s there to help you! If it doesn’t seem right, it usually isn’t. Start practising being more aware of what is happening around you.
2. Body Language.
What does your body say about you? A strong confident posture and gait is the greatest deterrent to any predator. According to a ‘Grayson & Stein’ research study with inmates, victims of assaults/muggings were chosen because of the way they carried themselves - shoulders rolled forward, head stooped low, hands in pockets, arms folded, weak clumsy walk etc.
To reference Dr. Albert Mehrabian, author of Silent Messages, who conducted several studies on nonverbal communication and found that 7% of any message is conveyed through words, 38% through certain vocal elements and 55% through nonverbal elements (facial expressions, gestures, posture etc). If you don’t walk tall, perhaps now is the time to start. It’s simple, walk tall, be aware, be confident.
3. ‘The Fence’ Technique.
The predator is approaching, what do I do now?!
Most people who purchase a property get an alarm and fence off their garden. Why? To keep people out. You purchase the latest phone and buy a protective cover for it. Why? To protect it! We spend thousands protecting our material items but fail to invest in our own personal protection.
‘The Fence’ technique is the foundation to everything we teach here at the academy. This technique is used to protect your personal space. The objective is to keep uninvited people out. By extending your arms out in front of you, you are fencing off your personal space. Do not clench your fists, for doing so is basically saying to your attacker ‘I’m ready to fight you’ and this can sometimes escalate the problem. Instead display your palms. Displaying palms is both a universal sign of peace and a message to this would be attacker to ‘STOP’. Think about the guard stopping traffic, he displays the palm of his hand to get people to stop. It’s the same principle. In conjunction with this action, use your voice – probably the most deadly weapon you possess! People are so afraid to shout out for fear of embarrassment! Me personally, I’d rather be remembered for having a great set of lungs than a victim of an attack.
Action (the fence) and noise (using your voice) will not only attract the attention of others within the vicinity, it will startle your aggressor as he’s not expecting this reaction! This window of opportunity will give you ample time to get out of there quickly. Remember, predators are cowards; they only pick on those they perceive to be weak. Become a hard target - don’t make it easy for them.
Please note: when referring to a predator/attacker as a male, we are not being politically incorrect, we are being statistically correct. Most attacks are carried out by men.