When someone looks suspicious, take note! Attackers are looking for victims, don’t be one! Think like attackers do, before you go out getting into this mind-set could save you from attack, simply by double checking things like how are your dressed? Are your clothes tight fitting with uncomfortable shoes? If so, then an attacker will see this to his advantage as you’re not dressed likely to be free to escape by running away.
Are you going out with headphones on? If so, attackers will see this to his advantage as it will distract you from paying attention, he sees you as an easier target than someone who is more aware without headphones. Attackers select you as his target and moves in.
Are you walking around draped in gold and expensive jewelry? If so, then attackers will see this as a very appealing target as you are basically walking around with dollar signs on yourself.
Basically, think like attackers and you can give yourself a huge advantage by not doing certain things that will make you a target for attack. If you can be aware and realize you make a appealing target before going out and change your appearance, then at least an attacker wont get the chance to see you this way.
Be A Bad Target
Often times a predator will choose his targets based on some conception of risk vs. reward. The predator wants to get one or more things out of the attack (reward) and minimize his chance of getting injured or caught in the process (risk). There are exceptions, as some predators may be reckless, mentally ill, without self-worth, suicidal, or under the influence of drugs. But consider that very few robbers will attempt to rob a policeman in uniform, but many will rob a well-dressed woman with an expensive purse, lots of jewelry, and headphones in her ears. Anything you can do to increase the risk and decrease the rewards for a potential predator, will decrease the chance that you’ll be chosen as a target, again, think like an attacker.
In general, a predator will choose victims they think they can successfully attack. While you can’t change your age, height, and gender, there are some things you can do to make yourself a higher risk target. Paying attention to your surroundings is a big one, but if a predator sees he’ll be unable to take you by surprise, he’ll probably choose a target who is paying less attention. Walking around with headphones in your ears, listening to music, talking on the phone, or texting, is a sure sign you’re not paying attention. Avoid these behaviors, especially in isolated areas. Along similar lines don’t get drunk in public. Drunk people make perfect victims.
When people are physically fit, it shows. And attacking a fit person is riskier than attacking one who is visibly out of shape. Aside from the mental and physical benefits, regular exercise and weightlifting will make you a higher risk target to the attacker.
The clothing a person is wearing can inhibit movement. Who would you prefer to attack, a woman in a tight skirt with high heal shoes, or a woman wearing jeans and running shoes? The clothing and shoes a person wears can tell a predator a lot about them. Wear clothing that allows you to move well.
One person is easier to attack than two, two people are easier to attack than three, and so on. While groups can get attacked, the more people you’re with, the lower your chances will be.
If you know how to use it, carrying a visible weapon can significantly increase the risk to a potential attacker. Would you rather attack a woman with pepper spray in her hand, or one with nothing? Think about the type of person you’d choose to attack if you needed to get money today, if you were a rapist, or if you wanted to beat someone up to prove your manhood. What behaviors, qualities, and conditions would make you more likely to attack them? What behaviors, qualities, and conditions would make you less likely to attack them? Think like an attacker.
Again, you can’t change certain aspects of your physicality. But you can change aspects of your behavior that would be rewarding to a predator. What does wearing expensive clothing and jewelry tell a predator looking for money? What kind of car do you drive, and what does it tell a potential predator? What does wearing revealing clothing show a man who is already thinking about rape? (It’s not fair, but it is true.) Think about what you’d look for in a victim, in terms of rewards, and eliminate those as best you can.
When a woman carries a purse, it wouldn’t be foolish to assume there are objects in it, potentially valuable objects, especially if it’s an expensive, name-brand purse. If you do need to pass through a high-risk area, don’t carry or wear anything that will appeal to a predator. This includes laptops, smart phones, and any other high value items you may carry in your hand or wear on your body. Think like an attacker.
Obstacles & Home Security
The more obstacles a potential predator has to deal with, the more likely he’ll choose an easier target. Would you prefer to break into a home with a visible camera, motion sensing lights, window bars, a barking dog, and an obvious alarm system, or one with no sign of preventative obstacles? In addition to the deterrent quality of obstacles, some can stop an attacker dead in his tracks. If you do have an alarm system, use it!
Keep your home, car doors, and windows locked. Don’t open the door for strangers. A locked door is an obstacle that requires far more effort to get through than one that is unlocked. And when that locked door has a sign next to it from an alarm company, and a dog barking behind it, there are very few predators that won’t leave for another home.
Some predators will walk a neighborhood pretending to be a handyman, knocking on doors to see who is home, who isn’t, who opens doors, and what’s inside. Again, do not open the door for strangers. Use blinds or curtains so it’s difficult for a predator to easily see inside your house. Use motion activated lights around your house.
Predators don’t want to be seen and will avoid getting close to a motion activated light. The more obstacles you can set up between you and an attacker, the harder it will be for him to reach you, and the more likely it will be that he’ll chose another victim.
Have a plan for home invasions, and make sure everyone in your home knows that plan. Your plan will vary depending on the size and layout of your home, where the exits are, how many people live in it, their ages, etc. When making your plan, remember that the goal isn’t to kill an intruder, but to keep yourself and your family safe. Escaping may be your first priority, particularly if you know where the intruders are coming in, have barriers between them and your family, and a safe way to exit. If you do have motion sensing lights, locked doors and windows, an alarm system, and an alert dog, it’s highly unlikely your home will be chosen. If it is, each of these barriers will act as layers in your security system, alerting you to the progress of the intruders.
Although you won’t be there to attack, if you go out of town, make sure you have a neighbor pick up your mail and remove flyers each day. Some attackers will place flyers on or in front of doors, or on car windshields, to see if they get removed. If they don’t get removed, they can assume you’re out of town. Think like attackers.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
It’s always better to be aware and mindful, not just for self-defense. Get into the habit.
Most people do the same things day after day, week after week, month after month. You should be aware of what’s normal in your neighborhood, where you walk your dog, in and around public transit areas, in and around your place of work, in the grocery store parking lot, and everywhere else you go. What kind of people do you normally see? What do they normally wear? What are they normally doing?
When something or someone is out of place, take note
Why is there an adult man hanging around a children’s playground if he doesn’t have a child? Why is there a man leaning against a wall or peeking out from a recessed doorway? Why did those three guys split up but keep walking toward me? Why is that man wearing a jacket in the summer? Why does that kid have one hand behind his back? I’ve never seen that guy before…what’s he doing in my neighborhood?
People naturally have good instincts, and it’s extremely common for victims of crime after the fact to say they had a bad feeling about a situation, that something or someone didn’t seem right. But they ignored it. When you’ve got a bad feeling, pay attention to it!
Attackers will use social conventions to their advantage. They know that it’s rude to be rude, and that nice people don’t want to be rude. They know you’ll feel strange crossing the street when they’re walking toward you, and that you probably won’t. They know you probably won’t tell them to get out of your face when they come too close, or that you’ll shake their hand when they put it out for you.
The most dangerous predators won’t seem like predators on the surface, but odds are, you’ll know something isn’t right. They’ll be where they don’t belong, or they’ll be doing something a normal person wouldn’t do. It may be something small, but if you’re aware and paying attention, you’ll see it. And you don’t have to be paranoid. You simply need to be aware and pay attention to your feelings. Think like attackers do, and you just might avoid a very bad situation.