Foundation of violence
01. DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SELF DEFENSE, FIGHTING AND MARTIAL ARTS
10 min read
What is Self Defense?
The definition of self-defense is, ” the act of defending one’s self when physically attacked.”
The goal of self-defense is not to hurt, punish, or teach your attacker a lesson; the goal is to stop them from abusing and/or hurting you. If you continue to hurt the attacker after they are no longer a threat, you are now committing assault, especially in the eyes of most first world countries. On that note, every individual must know their county’s laws of self-defense.
The goal of self-defense is to return to normalcy. This is before any incident occurred, and through whatever legal, moral and ethical means necessary.
Self-defense does not begin with physical contact, nor does it necessarily end once the opponent is no longer a threat. There is a cavalcade of issues in the aftermath of violence for all parties involved to deal with: potential trauma, physical damage, the law, civil suits, and potential revenge.
To be referred to as self-defense, (self-protection, personal protection, reality-based self-defense, self-preservation or any permutation of), it should be applicable for everyone. This means people of all ages, sizes, genders, as well as those with any kind of limitations or disabilities.
What Is The Difference Between Self Defense vs Fighting vs Martial Arts?
Broken down, they are as different as ping pong, tennis and badminton are to each other. There are similarities, but just enough apparent differences to make them distinct.
Firstly, it is imperative to understand that there is no art, systems or styles to violence. Violence isn’t traditional nor cultural and doesn’t follow a code of rules of conduct. Violence disregards belts, ranks, strength, size, technique, rather eschewing those aspects for chaos. Violence deals with things like sexual assault, the many forms of abuse, rape, muggings, breaking and entering, pedophilia, murder, abduction, confrontation, mental illness, trauma, vengeance, the law, morality, ethics and the lack of thereof.
Violence is human. It deals with behavior, psychology, emotions, and intuition, rendering it a scientific process of study. It can be analyzed through research, observation, and verification, not technical, artistic, systematic or stylistic aspects.
Martial Arts are primarily rooted in traditions and culture. They are usually diluted down for a wider audience, including rankings, and multi-colored belt systems. Martial arts go through a further transformation further for sports and competitions with rules, refs and regulations. This attracts a wide audience and loses much of the cultural significance as a traditional art of self-defense, morphing it into a weekend hobby rather than a philosophy and practice.
The Mixed Martial arts, which are much more combative along with boxing, kickboxing, Thai boxing, wrestling, grappling, Jiu-Jitsu, and Judo. Any martial art where you are struggling, fighting, trying to either pin, submit or knock out an opponent, are the closest to a real legal fight as one can get. However, they’re still not self-defense oriented, as combative arts are voluntary and consensual while acts of extreme violence are not.
Consent, awareness, and preparation make a world of difference. Mixed martial arts represent only one option. It cannot necessarily help someone who has been in abusive situations for most of their lives at a young age. Mixed martial arts don’t happen in bars, on beds, in elevators or back seats of cars or street corners where a freak accident could potentially end your life (Most recently there has been a video uploaded on a few popular social media platforms of a street fight outside a bar, a guy gets thrown into the street and hit by a bus).
Then you’ve got most Reality Based Self Defense systems which are nothing more than traditional martial arts without katas, belts, rituals, traditional, dogmatic or cultural aspects attached to them. Some happen to be based on real military systems of hand to hand combat designed for soldiers in the infancy of the military. However, one could argue that the years have seen hand-to-hand combat, like Krav Maga, diluted by aspects of pop culture, the rendering of combat as a leisurely activity. Overall, one would be much better off training in mixed martial arts, boxing or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu than taking part in many hand-to-hand styles being promoted.
Unfortunately for martial arts, there is a myriad of self-made, pell-mell systems from non-experts who utilize outlets like the internet for faux expertise. Learning from non-experts can be counterintuitive and put you in danger.
On the other hand, there are those, such as former cops, soldiers and bouncers who took karate, got a black belt then created their systems of self-defense based on their interpretations. They used their experiences with real-world violence as their template for teaching others.
They unquestionably experienced violence, but the form of violence a bouncer deals with when facing drunks is nothing compared to some of the more heinous acts being committed regularly. A bouncer can teach combat to other bouncers. However, such individuals must have been educated in behavioral psychology. What results is an individual with limited experience, namely to his filtered perceptions, personal abilities, and domain and doesn’t translate to the average civilian targeted by the predators of societies.
Though some of these do adequately cover certain portions of self-defense, none address real-world violence from a scientific, behavioral, psychological, emotional, moral, ethical and legal perspective. Rarely does the public at large grasp the concept of violence from the intended victim’s perspective, let alone understand it from every other potential perspective. These include outlets like CCTV cameras, phones, witnesses, cops, prosecutors, defense lawyers, the crown, juries, and family members.
Rarely do martial arts or reality self-defense systems look at violence and self-defense from a nuanced point of view. Specific situations involving violent crime like assaults and child abuse can often be overlooked regarding self-defense systems.
We have dealt with numerous clients with chillingly specific examples that seem to be ripped right out of fictional movies and crime shows. No matter how implausible they may seem, the truth can truly be stranger than fiction.
Self-defense systems pay a little heed to things like awareness, intuition and proper de-escalation.
Additionally, none I’ve ever seen or heard of even touches on trauma and mental illness. Most self-defense classes are 5% to 15% theory and 85% to 95% technique, consisting of pad striking or controlled environments where the combatant has a modicum of safety.
Real Fighting, being combative or ‘getting into a fight’, as opposed to protecting and defending one’s self from violence, is consensual. This strain of fighting primarily involves physical aspects of confrontations, mainly dealing with aggressive combatants with little to no emphasis on avoidance, de-escalation or the potential legal ramifications involved. The parties involved instead use threats, challenges, intimidation, provocation, instigation, profanity and sarcasm to fuel their fights. They eschew any forms of de-escalation tactics and empathy like understanding, compassion, kindness, and politeness.
A fight involves parties moving towards each other to engage, often escalating with no intention of backing down. In fighting, there is consent and awareness, as the parties involved are willingly engaging in violence with allusions to having the belief that they have no other choice but to ramp up their aggressive behavior. They often confuse defending their pride and honor over their lives along with their mental and physical wellbeing. The law does not recognize or honor one’s pride, nor does it offer the right to protect it with outright physical violence.
In Self Defense, we want no part of whatever conflict or confrontation we find ourselves in; we are generally moving away from the threat. In self-defense, we want our lives to continue as we know it now before the situation found us. Our objective in self-preservation is to go home and be able to see our families again.
As stated before, we use the example of tennis, ping pong, and badminton. All 3 have similarities, but unlike the prior 3, if not clearly understood, these 3 are distinctly and potentially life-threateningly different.
What is Violence?
-Behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something.
– Legal Definition: the unlawful exercise of physical force or intimidation by the exhibition of such force.
Is Violence Always Bad?
To paraphrase former Judge Phillip Morris, Violence, when there are alternatives, (ignorance of said alternatives not excusable unless specifically due to proven learning limitations or mental illness), is not only wrong but illegal, unethical and immoral.
What could constitute as other alternatives? Depending on the severity of the threat or situation, as all are different and variant, running, walking away, proper verbal de-escalation, distraction and deception to stun and run are valid methods. Some more extreme examples can include moving, leaving town, and witness protection.
For example, if the only method of stopping an extremely violent drug-induced attack perpetrated by a male adult is by shooting and killing him, violence is then used for good, (and so is the gun), by the individual on the other side of the conflict. By assuming that violence is always wrong, one is much less likely to use it when required to survive it when it can make the difference between life and death.
02. MORAL/LEGAL/ETHICAL IMPLICATIONS
11 min read
In the real world when it comes down to a violent confrontation, no matter the type of altercation, the conflict, people involved, whether it be social or antisocial violence in nature, self-defense or a fight, there will often be consequences. Not every time, as there have been hundreds of thousands of fights that ended in a beer and a handshake, but that’s rarely the case.
In a violent confrontation today, one must contend the high potentiality of the presence of CCTV and pocket cameras and the chances you’re going to be caught on camera doing whatever it is you do are exponentially high these days.
Social media is rife with examples. Sadly, most of them are social violent situations where people either agree to fight by specifically meeting and fighting or have gotten into an argument over something as trivial as a parking spot or spilled drink that escalates into a fight.
There are too many stories, several of which we know of someone punching someone else in a social violent incident. What unfolds is a knockout where they stand, resulting in that person dropping without bracing themselves as they are already unconscious from the punch. This often causes their heads to liberally land on whatever surface they may have been standing on, resulting in serious injury and death.
95% of the time, we are standing on hard surfaces such as concrete, asphalt, industrial carpet, tiles, hardwood, ceramic, marble, laminate flooring; not a mat like in martial arts or self-defense classes. Then there are potential obstacles such as furniture, vehicles, drops like a curb or cliff, other people, trinkets and more unaccounted variables.
The environment needs to be considered as a very potential and dangerous participant in any altercation of any kind. Thus, awareness of one’s environment along with said environment’s ‘pros and cons’ in virtue of potential eruption of violence is paramount.
This doesn’t mean death is always the result. Many unfortunate individuals have ended up in a coma, paraplegic, quadriplegic, and suffering from permanent brain damage. All of this resulting from 1 sucker punch they never anticipated.
The guilty party, (as social violence, under the definition, often has plenty of present witnesses), usually finds themselves doing anywhere between 1 to 15 years for that 1 punch if the other party dies or ends up in a wheelchair by proxy of.
Manslaughter is the least of one’s worries too. Who did you knock out? Were they a visible minority? Gay? Transgender? Will the prosecution tag on an extra 5 to 8 years to your sentence in the form of a hate crime?
Furthermore, what if you ended up killing another human being over a spilled drink or road rage incident? These are just some aspects one needs to reflect on extensively. Imagine a violent scenario where this happens. Got kids? A significant other? Any close loved ones at all? How do you think they’ll feel? What if they were in the car or social event and witnessed it themselves?
If that person you sucker-punched over a spilled drink or parking spot dies, what happens to you and your loved ones beyond the law and lawsuits? Providing you are not a narcissistic sociopath yourself, thinking thoughts like “It was their fault, they had it coming. I’m innocent.” With these type of justification narratives, (assuming you’re a decent human being with empathy), what then do you sensibly think?
At the very least, a lifetime of therapy for the trauma and guilt of killing another human being over a trivial incident that could have easily been completely avoided or de-escalated is almost a guarantee.
This is likely the end of your life as you know it right now; providing this didn’t already happen to you in which case, you know exactly what we’re talking about. This is the end of relationships and trust, to the beginning of constant judgemental looks by all those you know, to hard times getting work, credit, a place to live or even traveling to other countries. Starting new relationships with the status of a social pariah for murder isn’t easy to live with. Anyone, you meet henceforth can find out about your past, your stain on society. Many will immediately shun you, or slowly disconnect themselves from you once they do find out.
You allowed your ego to take over, you struck someone, and it caused their death. For the rest of your life, you must live with the fact that you took someone’s life over something trivial, devastating their family and friends in the process. Did that person have a mother or father? A significant other? Kids? Friends? How do you think they feel about the life you took? Is vengeance a potentiality? All these factors can create a perfect storm to make your life unbearable.
Then there is your own family and loved ones. If you have children, you have significantly altered their life from that moment on too. Consider the butterfly effect. This is a perfect example of that; what you do can alter the course they are on, potentially in this case, for the worst.
What about the law we mentioned? Assault is illegal and, in this case, resulted in death. It isn’t first-degree murder, but it is manslaughter and that isn’t going to be dealt with by a slap on the wrist. You caused the death of another human being, resulting in guaranteed hard time. How much time you are looking at depends on where in the world you live, if at all in rare cases.
In most first-world countries, (depending on the situation), you’re looking at anywhere from 2 to potentially 15 years. Perhaps the fight didn’t result in the death of someone. Maybe it resulted in a major injury, putting the individual in a wheelchair, coma, giving them permanent brain damage, a broken jaw, neck damage, and so on. You will be looking at assault charges, and with it, multiple levels of assault charges. Furthermore, this also depends on the injury sustained, the parties involved, political time, the crown’s mood, and more.
Another thing to consider when it comes to criminal law is that this process is, to some degree, at the mercy of the humans involved in the process. From the prosecutor to the defense lawyers, the jury, the judge, your peers, and more. Is it an election year? Perhaps the person you hurt or killed happens to be another race, religion or sexual orientation than you. Perhaps they try and make an example out of you to gain public popularity for displaying zero tolerance on hate crimes. Maybe you had no prejudice against this person, but that doesn’t mean other people won’t twist things. If they succeed in doing so, this could easily add on several years to your sentencing.
Consider: was the individual connected? To whom and how high? Will revenge be a factor? The laundry list of different variables goes on and on.
When it comes to doing hard time, if you are otherwise a decent human being and this was the result of a tragic mistake, you are going to have a very difficult time in prison. There are predators and hardened criminals inside. It will become a matter of daily survival within the walls of these places. To the antisocial individuals that dwell within these walls, you are going to be their prey.
Many decent humans who do hard time often resort to committing suicide within a couple of months to years of their sentence. Those that serve their time can likely end up suffering from major psychological trauma afterward. There are even some who turn to a life of crime afterward, finding themselves going in and out, as they become used to prison life.
There is also the civil law. If you kill or injure someone, their family or they will likely come after you in civil court. They could potentially sue you for hundreds of thousands, to millions of dollars depending on the trauma suffered and proved in court.
Consider once again: do you have insurance to cover this? Do you have hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars just sitting around to pay them if you lose? Even if you don’t, you will be required to make monthly payments to this family or individual until the court awarded amount is paid in full or end up paying for the rest of your days. This is but another way this incident can haunt you for the rest of your life. Seeing this payment come out of your bank account every month is just a continuous unfriendly reminder of this incident.
Things can especially go wrong if you have a checkered past. Do you have things in your past that doesn’t paint you in a great or positive light? A prior record, juvenile or adult? Are there people you’ve perhaps forgotten about you may have wronged that could step up as character witnesses against you for the prosecution? Do you have any present online activity that law enforcement can find on your phone/laptop/PC even after you’ve deleted and cleared your history content which may reflect a darker, private side to your personality? Things like these and more can and will work against you in a court of law.
There are so many potentialities and variables that can come into play in a violent confrontation, during the confrontation and especially after the confrontation. These must be considered, taught, learned and used in order to help us avoid violence as well as understand the law, the lines we cannot cross, the aftermath, along with the critical importance of keeping our ego and anger in check so we don’t alter the course of our lives and the lives of our loved ones and our fellow man.
Knowing how to spot and avoid potential violence is not only personally life-changing, it is communally so as well by proxy as violence is a root that weeds.
03. SOCIAL VS ANTISOCIAL VIOLENCE
9 min read
There are 2 distinct types of violence one could potentially face.
Social violence, first and foremost, is never personal and generally occurs in social or socially veined settings. It involves two or more parties consisting of decent people having bad days about to take it out on each other, (via oppressed build-up), over a spontaneous incident (the proverbial last straw that broke the camels back), and usually escalates, devolving from there.
Social violence happens over things like disagreements, arguments, and misunderstandings. A spilled drink, road rage, misdirected flirtatious behavior, arguments over anything from politics to religion to sports teams; anything 2 human beings could potentially disagree on in a social setting. There are countless other ways that two people can potentially slight each other.
These types of confrontations are never personal and can be de-escalated 100% of the time by following the behavioral de-escalation strategies outlined below. Social violence is spontaneous, never pre-planned, as nobody necessarily pre-plans going out to blow off steam and watch a game, getting into a violent conflict with a stranger. However, if things get rowdy and escalate, things could end up in a violent brawl resulting in serious bodily injury. Although not the most common occurrence, it still happens, nonetheless.
This being due to the previously stated, general undealt, pent-up and oppressed frustrations of life we all must contend with, and our egos. All these factors often override our logical and critical thinking abilities escalating any disagreement into a confrontation via various methods of provocation, and voilà; nobody is interested in deescalating anything anymore.
A particularly disturbing feature of this is that more people all over the world die every day at the hands of decent people having bad days in social violent situations, such as the ones described above than they do at the hands of anti-social violent individuals. These acts of anti-social violence include crimes like premeditated murder and serial killings. Every single one of those social situations could have been defused with both parties walking away and back to their lives as they knew it before that single incident that changed everyone and everything around them forever.
For example, 2 men got into a verbal argument over a parking spot at a local gas station in a suburban city of Canada with both their wives and children present. The argument escalated into a shoving match, which escalated into a full-on fight with both men swinging, eventually trying to out grapple each other while throwing useless punches whenever they had a loose arm available.
Both wives were screaming at the husbands, trying to get them to stop, telling them that this wasn’t the place for this. Alas, it was to no avail as the men kept fighting until one of them picked the other one up and suplexed him. A suplex is an offensive move used in both professional and amateur wrestling. It is a throw that involves lifting the opponent and bridging or rolling to slam the opponent on their back. What followed was a broken neck and back on unforgiving and unyielding asphalt and subsequent death on the spot in front of the two families.
How do you think the children of both parties involved are going to grow up? How bitter, angry and devasted must both their wives be? How is their functionality as parents going to be for the immediate future? What if one of the families neglects the critical need for therapy for both themselves and the children? Think back to the butterfly effect; everything causes a ripple effect, growing more prevalent as time goes by.
Victims of violence also include the loved ones of the primary victim as well. Violence is a cycle.
Regarding anti-social violence, this isn’t a case of a good guy having a bad day. In this case, we are dealing with a bad person; a predator. Often, a victim of abusive violence themselves.
In anti-social violence, there is a victim selection process, where the victim is singled out by the anti-social individual. The victim then is often on the receiving end of a multitude of violent crimes, abuse in its many forms, harassment, and further acts of depravity. It is a far cry from a disagreement in a social setting.
As mentioned above, abuse comes in many forms: neglect, physical, sexual, psychological, emotional, economic, reproductive, dominance, spiritual and more. Some children and adults go through one, a combination of, or all forms of abuse. Considering that approximately roughly between 30% to 70% of abused children become abusers in one form or another themselves, ( http://naasca.org/2012-Resources/010812-StaisticsOfChildAbuse.htm), we can understand the importance of childhood development and safety. There is a social responsibility to address and intervene, ideally preventing abuse, especially early on in childhood.
Preventing abuse also means preventing many future anti-social individuals from developing. When we are dealing with anti-social violence, we are likely dealing with 1 of 3 types of individuals: The extreme narcissist, the Sociopath, and The Psychopath.
However, there are also types of mental illnesses that can cause an individual to be violent but not necessarily fall under the “Anti-social personality disorder” umbrella. Things like substance abusers (especially long-term use), schizophrenia, bipolar disorder (rare but has happened, see the story with father and son below), other paranoid personality disorders, to name just a few.
However, as far as understanding and preventing violence and character traits go about how to deal with them for self-preservation purposes, we are dividing them and mainly looking at the 3 main types consisting of extreme Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NDP), sociopathy and psychopathy. “Psychopathy”, though not a specific recognized disorder like sociopathy is, (more info in the DSM), as there are several notables that fall under this specific term and it is often misused. For the sake of teaching self-defense and differentiating potential types of attackers to the general populace, we are simplifying it to ” Psychopath and psychopathy”.
The Narcissistic Personality Disorder type.
An individual with NPD often has an over-inflated sense of self-importance. This is combined with a severe lack of empathy, as they are only able to see things strictly from their point of view. It’s very difficult for an individual with NDP to understand the importance of social norms, ethics, morality, and laws. Indeed, they rather construe them as personal limitations to their objectives, goals, and agendas. They expect life to work according to their understanding, with no regard or comprehension to any other. They are generally quite fragile and are often triggered by confusion and rage. They have a myopic point of view, rooted in their ego. The sense of being wronged, belittled or even slightly disrespected can result in an extreme violent rage in some people with NPD.
Others will project these issues towards others such as employees, students, coworkers, friends especially spouses and children in the forms of emotional, psychological, sexual, dominance and financial abuse. Someone with NPD will often not even be aware that they are carrying out harsh actions against these people. Do you have a controlling family member you have to constantly walk eggshells around, who needs to always be right, and things are never, ever their fault, no matter what? Chances are they’re suffering from NPD.
However, a person suffering from NPD isn’t necessarily a sociopath or psychopath, but both sociopaths and psychopaths suffer from extreme NPD.
04. DIFFERENCE OF GOOD PERSON VS PREDATOR
6 min read
How are the Sociopath and ‘Psychopath’ similar and different?
Psychopaths and sociopaths share similar traits; both have a poor inner sense of right and wrong. They both suffer from NPD, making them selfish with an over-inflated sense of importance. Everything is about them and their needs and wants.
A few differences between the 2 include IQ levels, where the psychopath generally has a higher IQ and can be found in positions of power in society. Another is the level of empathy and sense of right and wrong. Very bluntly, the psychopath doesn’t have a conscience. They will lie to you so they can rob you, and will feel no guilt whatsoever, nor feel socially or ethically compromised for doing so. They can easily and uncannily mimic morals, ethics, and empathy through the observation of others, and then replicate the behavior to blend in with others.
The sociopath typically, and by childhood neglect, has a lower level IQ. They stand out more through their impulsiveness and generally have a conscience, but it is held captive by the defense mechanisms of the ego. A sociopath may know that robbing you is immoral, unethical and illegal, and might even feel some degree of guilt or remorse. Their damaged survival mechanisms are now triggered by the pain and abuse of their past; it overrides anything they may feel or sense as wrong or immoral.
Are they all Violent?
Society portrays sociopaths and psychopaths, especially reinforced by the media, like those who kill or torture innocent people for pleasure. However, the reality isn’t so simple and glamourous. Some people with an antisocial personality disorder can be physically violent but most aren’t. Instead, they use manipulation, emotional and psychological abuse, and irresponsible behaviors to get what they want.
At their worst, we get the Ted Bundy’s and Bill Cosby’s of the world, while most are to be found climbing their way up the corporate ladder with no regards to and at the expense of many others.
If you recognize one or two of these traits in a family member or co-worker, you may be tempted to think you’re living or working with a psychopath or sociopath. However, just because a person is mean or inherently selfish doesn’t necessarily mean they suffer from a personality disorder such as the ones mentioned.
Both the psychopath and the sociopath’s brains are physically different than non-antisocial individuals. There are wide, varying differences in the brain among these individuals. The most common and seemingly consistent is the pre-frontal cortex region, (including lesions) where empathy, moral and emotional responses are processed. Additionally, this region shows a significant reduction in grey matter in anti-social individuals who also abuse alcohol or have been repeated, violent offenders.
There is also evidence that the amygdala (“the seat of emotion and threat recognition”) portion of the brain is significantly smaller, (the outer layer is 18% atrophied), than a normal brain. It also includes the ability to connect to empathy, emotion or remorse and consequence of actions. There are other areas of the brain that can be affected, with many reliable studies online that break these down in greater detail.
The sociopath is the product of long-term abuse. They are born with a normal brain, but through years of abuse, neglect or some other form of repetitive trauma, the brain, and neural pathways do not develop properly, which is crucial in childhood psychology and healthy development. They are spontaneous, impulsive, adrenaline junkies, generally impatient and suffer from the proverbial ‘Type A’ personalities.
The psychopath, (as far as we presently know), is both a rarity and is born with brain abnormalities. They are patient and calculated. They can engage in reactive behaviors, but less frequently as they tend to be more proactive in their responses. They are the ones, once they get caught, that everyone expresses disbelief, surprise, and indignation, stating “I can’t believe it was him! He was such a contributing member of society! He did all these amazing things! How can this be?”
Unlike their sociopathic counterparts, most psychopathic individuals are not violent at all; only approximately 1% of individuals defined as “psychopaths” are violent. The 99% who aren’t violent you will find, as previously stated, in positions of power. Control and dominance are their oeuvres. Reverence as career choices: CEO’s, politicians, teachers, coaches, martial arts instructors, movie stars, producers, directors, sports team owners, judges, surgeons, doctors, the medical industry in general, law enforcement, military, clergy, and more can be the purview of these individuals.
The psychopath born into a nurturing and loving home and the environment will very unlikely become violent, though will still display a lack of empathy, narcissism, controlling, manipulative and deceptive behaviors. However, a psychopath born into a home of abuse and/or neglect or experiences a major traumatic event without proper therapy before adulthood can become a violent offender of some type. These can range from bullies, sadistic serial killers, and anything in between depending on the trauma and abuse they received.
Below is a link to one of many articles discussing the neuroscience discoveries of antisocial brains.
05. ANTISOCIAL BEHAVIOUR
2 min read
What attracts predators in society?
Predators are attracted to a lack of awareness, vulnerability and perceived weakness; someone whom they believe will not see them coming, who will not be capable of stopping them from getting whatever they want.
Those generally deemed weak by predators include females of all ages and races, toddlers to the early twenties, the elderly, those with physical and or mental limitations and/or disabilities.
Those deemed as vulnerable often fall under the categories of lack of awareness, being distracted by things like cellphones, iPods, books, magazines, and anything that takes their attention away from the environment. Simply being lost in thought, wearing vision obstructing clothing such as certain types of hats, caps, scarfs, hoodies can also contribute to this vulnerability.
Isolation also falls under the vulnerability category; is the individual alone, preferably located somewhere or at a time where little to no one is likely to come by or trapped in a bathroom stall, or a basement?
3 Things a predator Wants
What a predator can potentially want from you falls under 3 categories.
1) Your Valuables – money, possessions, valuables or even a loved one.
2) Your Body – to harm, hurt, torture, assault, abuse or rape.
3) Your Life – to end it.
3 Things a predator Does NOT Want (Generally as some sociopaths though don’t want this are too impulsive to take heed of any potential warnings or threats that may cause any of these to happen to them)
1) To Get Caught – do not want to go to jail.
2) To Get Hurt – no one wants to get hurt.
3) Attention Drawn to the Scenario – out of fear of getting caught.
06. AWARENESS AND INTUITION
7 min read
Becoming an undesirable Target
An undesirable target is one who does not meet the criteria of appearing weak, vulnerable, distracted or isolated. This effectively eliminates them as prey for the predator. To become an undesirable Target, one must be aware of their environment, be confident, not be distracted and preferably not be isolated. How do you do that?
Many instructors tell you to look like you know where you’re going, to look “confident” and “walk with a purpose”, that if you appear confident, no one will mess with you. But what if you do not feel confident? Well, we have good news and bad news.
The bad news is we can’t teach confidence in just a few sentences on a website. The good news is that we can provide you with a couple of helpful tips and exercises you can do every time you leave your home that will change your body language from that of prey to that of someone of awareness and a sense of their present environment. Now lets demystify some of these common suggestions often taught in generic self defense courses:
(1) Walking with a purpose, as if you have a specific destination and a certain amount of time to get to it, can give you some level of appearing confident but to a seasoned predator, you just look in a hurry and even less likely to see him coming as you’re so preoccupied with your destination.
(2) Quick, neutral eye contact with others, in addition to a purposeful stride, will also assist you in looking confident. However, do not mistake confidence for aggressiveness. A common misconception and one that is taught by many self-defense experts are that you should walk with aggressive or “Don’t Mess with Me” type attitude, even to the point of being rude if spoken to. Who wants to walk around with that mindset all day? It’s not exactly empowering or healthy in our opinion. Furthermore, if you project that attitude to the wrong person, they may see it as a challenge. And trust us, hostile parties can see right through a false wall of intimidation, thus escalating the potential for confrontation. Confidence can be attained, but not through faking it or appearing rude to every person you pass in the street.
Another part of looking confident is your awareness and alertness to what is around you. We all live our lives with an average level of sound around us. This ranges from ambient noise found in the wilderness, a city, or simple daytime noise. Regardless, there is a normal level of sound we experience.
2 Awareness games to play whenever out in the free world:
Give it a Name Game (https://youtu.be/1wqUC1mS-5k)
When we hear a sound that is above the average level of sound wherever you may be, such as a car horn honking, someone yelling, or any sound that just rises above the average decibel level, we recommend acknowledging it. Name what you just heard in your head or say it out loud if that helps. By doing this, you are keeping yourself in a heightened state of awareness since you are paying attention, something which automatically makes you a less desirable target.
By playing this game, project an air of organic confidence, lowering your chances of a conflict. Again, most attackers look for those who are distracted, not paying attention and appearing weak.
The second is a visual game. At any given moment, there are always things happening in our peripheral vision, often, much too much to take notice of. Acknowledge things or people you observe in your peripheral vision. This can buy you valuable time to act and get to safety if it is some sort of threat from an active threat in a social environment, to being ambushed walking the streets or on a jog or run.
Have you ever had an unexplainable gut feeling that something was off, creeping you out for no apparent or explicable reason, raising your hairs on end?
Intuition is your subconscious mind working constantly while you’re conscious, unconscious or comatose. Our intuition is consistently evaluating your immediate surroundings based on all our functioning senses including tactile, sight, smell, taste and hearing. The subconscious mind stores all the information collected by our senses from our immediate environments and if anything seems off or potentially threatening, it sends us a signal via a gut feeling or prevalent inner voice.
Think of it as a silent bodyguard, always having your best interest and safety at heart. There is, however, a critical difference between intuition and paranoia. Whereas intuition starts as a feeling we generally question, paranoia manifests itself as a thought that triggers the feeling of uneasiness. If in doubt, always go with intuition and attempt to exit whatever scenario you are in strategically and immediately. Nothing should ever overrule your gut feeling.
An excellent book we highly recommend is “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin DeBecker. DeBecker breaks down intuition along with explaining his specific formulaic survival signals to be aware of in the interviewing process of a predator. It’s an invaluable resource, and we highly recommend picking it up and reading it as soon as possible.
07. VERBAL DE-ESCALATION STRATEGIES
18 min read
As mentioned previously, there are two types of violence we face in the world; social and anti-social violence. There is a myriad of differences between them. The most critical one is social violence can always be de-escalated. The act of social aggression in question isn’t personal, but the individual, regardless of how profane, threatening and disrespectful they may be, they still have an issue they want resolving.
On the other hand, anti-social violence consists of a predator specifically targeting an intended victim for either valuable, to assault, abuse, or kill, making de-escalation improbable. Other examples of anti-social violence include unprovoked, unmotivated random attacks because of mental illness where the attacker isn’t necessarily aware of their actions due to psychosis, along with potential substance abuse combined with mental issues.
Social violence occurs when fate and circumstance brought two generally decent people having bad days, weeks or months together in a conflict or confrontation in a social environment. In these scenarios, no one was specifically chosen for violence and the situation isn’t personal.
Anti-social violence consists of a predator generally falling under the 3-character types: Extreme narcissistic personality disorder, Sociopathy, and Psychopathy. They are those who purposefully prey on specifically chosen victims, whether by opportunity, circumstance or careful planning.
The tactics of de-escalating potential violence remain the same, however. The difference being in the anti-social violent situation, the tactics are used more to set the predator up for a surprise, non-telegraphic retaliation as opposed to defusing the situation. For the most part, it is extremely difficult to persuade a violent offender to walk away peacefully without them getting what they want. Especially when what they wanted was you.
Things like verbal de-escalation, however useful, are quite challenging to our egos since they require being kind and empathetic in a highly tense situation with a potentially violent conflict as a probability. The reality is dealing with our own emotions can be challenging and detrimental if not properly done so as self-defense does indeed begin with the self. Ultimately, if we cannot control our egos, then it will be impossible to control our opponents. Therefore, it is paramount to first and foremost understand that de-escalation begins within us and sparring with our egos. Thus, self-defense beginning with the self as we are our own worst enemies. Cliché perhaps, sure, but monumentally true.
The five rules are as follows, (in no particular order except for #1):
Rule #1 – Always be Nice
When it comes right down to it, the best thing you can do is to be nice in disagreement, conflict, and confrontation. Until of course, it’s time to not be nice. In these situations, never under any circumstance let your adversary know when that time is until you’ve quickly planned and landed your retaliation. This is extremely difficult to do so in the face of a threatening confrontation.
It is ideal to be kind, especially in these tense situations. Firstly, there are enough individuals who are willing to get violent at a moment’s notice, and there’s no need to add to their ranks. (ID Channel’s Homicide Hunter, Detective Joe Kenda, stated that in his professional experience and opinion, 1 out of roughly 150-200 people are a ticking time bomb). These individuals can be brought to the very brink of violent crime if the situation arises due to a cavalcade of personal and past issues referred to as triggers.
We can list several examples of people resorting to murder during a seemingly social violent confrontation. One can simply tune into episodes of Forensic Files, Kenda: Homicide Hunter and other true crime shows which we highly recommend as learning tools to perpetually illustrate this point.
Being nice isn’t just for the ticking time bombs either; one must also consider all the variables involved, both human and otherwise, that can cost people their lives in socially violent situations. For example, in the summer of the mid-1980s, a typical socially violent confrontation between two 16-year old boys getting into an argument with each other at an outdoor party over a girl they both liked went wrong.
As many of these ego-based confrontations go, one boy pushed the other. However, he pushed the other hard enough to propel him backward, making the other lose his balance. Fate, unfortunately, had someone’s backpack laying directly in his path, causing him to trip backward into a 6-foot-high bonfire burning in the middle of the park in celebration of a national holiday. The boy burned to death, as no one could get close enough to pull him out.
Did the other boy want to commit murder? No. A perfect storm of human error, different variables, and fate cost the boy his life as the other had no intention of committing murder.
What is the ultimate outcome? Loss of life, trauma, broken families, a criminal and civil lawsuit.
There are countless examples of people who have perished due to both the ticking time bomb factor and the unfortunate perfect storm of different variables involved.
Being nice alone obviously won’t do it. There is an entire behavioral strategy behind this concept, and it involves the ability to communicate under the chaos of the adrenal stress condition phase. This, like anything else, requires both actual training and practice through proper scenario replication which allows the natural unfolding of the scenario to occur. This as opposed to exchanging a few words to get to the fight, as most people tend to freeze up under confrontational pressure way before the first strike is ever administered.
Rule #2 – Don’t Challenge or Threaten
This is crucial: you don’t want to challenge or threaten anyone. Both will often be taken as a challenge, since the individual in question is already invested and fueled by emotion, escalating any disagreement, argument or potentially violent confrontation.
Saying things like “Back off”, “Don’t come any closer”, “Leave me alone”, “Don’t touch me”, “I’ve got a knife”, “I know Karate”, and other confrontational phrases generally invoke a more antagonistic response most common being “Or what? What are you going to do about it?” forcing a situation physical as these are challenging to any ego but especially so to the narcissist personality.
What most people fail to understand is if someone is verbally confronting you, they are either not intimidated by you at all, or they are in predatory mode, specifically having picked you. They fundamentally believe with every fiber of their being that you are not a threat to them. They are convinced you can’t do anything to them since no one picks a fight with someone who they think will lash out violently against them unless they are self-destructive.
If you have been selected as a victim of any kind, your verbal threats and challenges will escalate the situation, leading your opponent into very likely striking first. At the very least, this is to save face and satisfy rage if dealing with social violence.
If you escalate the situation and pre-emptively hit them, you are as morally and ethically corrupt as the person you just hit. Or, perhaps, you reacted out of pure fear. Both actions will make you legally and civilly liable in a court of law. Participation in the escalation of a conflict is not self-defense; it’s being combative. In turn, being combative is not self-defense and goes against the very nature of self-defense.
Never has a violent criminal turned around and walked away because someone dropped into a fighting stance with challenging phrases. On the contrary, they eliminate the element of surprise while upping the ante on violence, simultaneously telegraphing their intentions of fighting back preparing the would-be aggressor for the retaliation. This misguided strategy is rife with missteps and squandered opportunities for escape, self-defense, and perfectly legal retaliation.
Strategically speaking, the last thing you would want to do is to let your aggressor know you are prepared to fight back or know how to, for that matter. Since the aggressor is immediately prepared to get physical instantly and is looking for any reason to do so. That crucial information is much better off concealed, as it establishes the tactical advantage of surprise. Bar none, the element of surprise is one of your greatest tools in physical self-defense.
Rule #3 – Don’t Tell Someone What to Do – Don’t Command Them
Along with avoiding challenging and threatening an opponent to de-escalate the situation and to maintain their guard down, one should also never tell their potential aggressor what to do in any way. This will detonate a ticking time bomb. Never command, order or tell anyone, what to do. Turn these aggressive commands into more polite suggestions, kindly asking, but ultimately never commanding.
Infamous phrases like ‘calm down’, ‘relax’, and ‘chill out’, often put an individual in a more dire situation. While these may be second nature to utter in a potentially violent situation, they can be the thing that sets off conflict.
Whether blinded by personal drama, ego or narcissism, an individual does not want to be told what to do. This is especially true when the individual commanding them is their chosen victim or individual they are in a disagreement with, as they have marked you as inferior.
Rule #4 – Never Tell or Insinuate That Someone Is Wrong or Lying
This one extremely difficult, especially when they are wrong. However, telling them so will most certainly escalate any disagreement or confrontation. For someone who is itching for a fight, this is a good ‘in’ for upping the chance of a conflict.
For example, if someone aggressively gets in your face asking if you were staring at their significant other, and you reply that you weren’t, often the reply back will be more aggressive and challenging in tone. If you insist on your position, they too will double down on their efforts. Being called a liar, made to look foolish, and other variables can be especially triggering for potentially violent individuals. This is usually followed by the physical escalation of being shoved, grabbed, smacked or struck.
You don’t want to say that you were staring at their significant other either, for obvious reasons. It is better to be agreeable when fishing for empathy. After all, we are trying to establish whether the individual we are dealing with is a good person having a bad day or a predator. Give the individual a human, generic, and relatable reply as to why you might have been looking at their loved one without challenging or threatening their egos.
An example of a response to better deescalate a situation would be, “I’m so sorry, I was drifting off into space. If I happened to be staring off in their direction, I apologize, I honestly meant nothing by it.” Being apologetic and not rising to their level of aggression automatically puts you in a better position. There are also cases of mistaken identity and lookalikes. Claiming that the person you were looking at was someone you formerly went to school with, a co-worker, or friend can potentially defuse a volatile situation. Being apologetic, polite, and empathetic during these exchanges is key. It requires the other individual to respond in kind with empathy, allowing you to understand if you are dealing with social or antisocial violence.
Any individual with empathy will relate and accept either one of these answers and walk away, the antisocial personality will bypass considerate replies completely with further instigation and intimidation. They will often disregard empathetic interactions and respond with further aggression or physical contact.
That’s the moment you know as conflict goes one of 3 ways:
1. They are either going to walk away with no incident,
2. They are going to assault you
3. You are going to assault them. If you gave them a moral, legal and ethical way out of the confrontation as mentioned above in the examples and the threat persists, you are now morally, legally and ethically within your right to pre-emptively stop them from striking you, even if they didn’t touch you.
Rule #5 – Always Make It About Them, Not You.
Finally, never make your dialogue about yourself; make it about them. One of the most innate desires of all humans is to feel seen and heard. As social beings, we crave attention. Using different language that emphasizes them and their situation will give you a more favorable situation, as opposed to making your responses self-centered.
A decent person having a bad day will feel heard and seen, and you are going to calm their emotions by bringing them back down to a more neutral and logical level and defuse the situation.
The predator in a social setting won’t care either way and disregard whatever you say with the attempts to provoke, intimidate, threaten, belittle or oppress you.
“How can I help you?” (with hands up in a passive, negotiating stance for safe proximity and reflexive response enhancement), is an excellent phrase. Asking these five words and listening to their responses will give you a considerable amount of information on the kind of individual you are dealing with. The good person having a bad day will be more willing to respond and negotiate with your questions. The antisocial individual won’t be deterred in trying to escalate a violent conflict.
As mentioned in the previous steps, once established, the strategy can then be solidified preventing the bad guy from striking first but requires higher-level skills. These include the ability to read body language, facial expressions, vocal tones and pick up on pre-contact cues and indicators, weight distribution, and the visual on all ten fingers of both hands. Then there’s the potential of multiple attackers and the presence of weapons, be they concealed or improvised based on opportunity.
In closing, it is essential to point out that the area of verbal de-escalation is where most people struggle and fail. Even people we train who may have several years of training, multiple black belts, law enforcement officers, security personnel, even proficient self-defense instructors worldwide have trouble within this area. It is often ignored and disregarded, as it is rarely seen as crucial compared to learning how to strike or physically stop someone.
Self-preservation is primarily about avoiding and preventing violence. We would highly recommend that verbal de-escalation is practiced with loved ones, in social settings, with people you trust, keeping the 5 rules in mind. When we practice what to say, it provides us with more confidence to navigate a real-life situation when under pressure of the adrenal stress phase.
08. SURVIVAL MINDSET, FEAR, STRESS AND ADRENALINE MANAGEMENT
3 min read
Violence can both happen spontaneously and develop over time. Regardless, flipping the switch mentally to defend yourself is not as easy as one might think. To go from a calm, possibly unaware state of mind to having a survival mindset requires a few key aspects.
First, one must eliminate apathy and denial from their thinking.
Far too often, victims of violence will say, “I never thought something like this could happen to me,” or “Nothing like this ever happens in our town, just in the big cities.” This is a potentially deadly way of thinking. Violence does and can happen anywhere, at any time and to anyone. No one is immune from violence. By no means is acknowledging violence a sign of paranoia nor is it inviting it into your life, but rather an honest admittance of its existence in order to avoid and prevent it. Not having this understanding can be detrimental to someone’s health.
Many people we teach don’t think they could ever hurt another person, even if that person were harming them. It is nice to hear that some people do not want to harm others, but do not think about it as hurting another person, but rather doing what is necessary to stay alive and well.
It is not about hurting the other person, it is about preventing them from hurting you, using whatever means necessary at the moment. Violence does not just affect the person on the receiving end of it, but it affects all those who are important in your life, like family and friends. Most people will do much more for those they love than for themselves, but you must be alive to benefit those you love.
Another perspective is that when it comes to antisocial violence, this person is trying to hurt your loved ones by hurting you. How would you feel if someone you loved and cared about were assaulted or murdered? Angry? Heartbroken? Vengeful? Now flip the roles: everything you feel even considering someone hurting your loved one is what they will feel if someone hurts you.
Turning your fear into indignation, tapping into the love you have for the people, pets or even things in your life. This is the mindset that helps people defeat incredible odds. So, each of us must figure out who is the most important individual(s) to us in our lives that we will do whatever is necessary whatever it takes to get back to them. It may be as simple as delivering a glancing blow to stun the attacker causing a defensive disengaging flinch to run, or it may be as severe as having to take their life. Whatever it takes to hug our loved ones again.
09. HUMAN VARIABLE, ENVIRONMENTAL AND SITUATIONAL ERROR
3 min read
In the real world, many factors come into play; things that can greatly affect the outcome of a violent confrontation. From the environment, this is happening in, the clothing you and the other person are wearing, the physical and mental state of all parties involved and much more.
An individual simply struggling with verbal communication, provoking the person in front of them and causing the escalation of the situation is an example of human error. Attempting to pull a cell phone from one’s pocket and have it interpreted as a weapon by the other resulting in the use of deadly force to intervene can be another.
The clothing individuals are wearing is an example of variable error. From wearing flip flops which cause you to trip and fall and prevent from either getting away from your attacker, ending up in an extremely dangerous ground fight, to a hoodie being pulled over one’s head and preventing them from being able to see any of the threats in front of them. A tie, a backpack, anything that can come in the way, can be used against you.
Environmental and Situational Error:
Ice. Snow. Water. Furniture. Bonfires. Curbs. Traffic. Hard ground or floors. Sweat and blood. These are all examples of environmental and situational errors. Like the story of the two boys and the bonfire, behind that shoved person is a bag left on the ground or something else that causes them to trip over it. Someone grabs someone by their shirt, spins them around to throw them, and behind them is traffic or a table and they get hit by a vehicle or crack their head open on the table. Someone sucker punches another person, knocking the person unconscious, that person due to the unconsciousness is unable to brace themselves as they fall so their head hits the hard surface below and they die. These different variables and errors can manifest themselves in countless different scenarios and various ways. As we always say, the environment is like a co-star in a violent conflict.
10. TOOL AND TARGET DEVELOPMENT SKILLS
11. STUN AND RUN TACTICS
12. AFTERMATH: TRAUMA, MENTAL HEALTH, FIRST AID
10 min read
Why Include “Trauma” in a Violence Prevention Course?
We know that trauma is a root cause of many societal issues. From mental illnesses including addictions to anti social personality disorders and anti social violence, trauma is a common denominator here. Based on years of experience with our own personal traumas as well as working with thousands of people with trauma, combined with continuing research and education on trauma and it’s effects, we strongly feel that shining a bright light on what trauma is, what it does to an individual and how to manage it can potentially bring peace to the world not only on a collective level but on an individual and personal level, as well. Violence is a cycle that must be out birthed. By preventing or managing trauma, we are confident that this cycle can be broken.
What is “Trauma”?
Trauma is an event or series of events outside the range of “usual” human experience that threatens the physical or emotional safety of oneself or others. Many trauma experts feel trauma is both the aftermath of a traumatic event and the specific event itself. More so, most agree it is what happens to the mind and body after the event or events have taken place. This is because the word “Trauma” is derived from the Greek word for “Wound”. So, if a wound is something that happens during or after the event, trauma could then be the aftermath of a traumatic event.
A traumatic event is an experience that overwhelms an individual’s capacity to cope. Whether it is experienced early in life—child abuse, neglect, witnessing violence and disrupted attachment—or later in life due to violence, accidents, natural disasters, war, sudden unexpected loss and other life events that are out of one’s control, trauma can be devastating. Experiences like these can interfere with a person’s sense of safety, self, and self-efficacy, as well as the ability to regulate emotions and navigate relationships. Traumatized people commonly feel terror, shame, helplessness, and powerlessness.
The terms “violence,” “trauma,” “abuse” and “post-traumatic stress disorder’ (PTSD) are often used interchangeably. Trauma expert Stephanie Covington suggests that one way to clarify these terms is to think of trauma as a response to violence or some other overwhelmingly negative experience. Trauma is both an event and a particular response to an event; PTSD is one type of disorder that results from trauma.
There are multiple types of trauma. The definitions used in psychiatric manuals have been built upon the ground-breaking work of Judith Herman, (author of Trauma and Recovery), who contributed to our understanding of levels of complexity of trauma and our understanding of safety and connection as a necessary first stage of healing from trauma.
What is a “Trigger”?
An experience that causes someone to recall a traumatic memory or event. This can be an emotional reaction without any actual memory coming up. Certain sounds, music, smells, touch, and words can be a potential trigger. There is no way of knowing what will trigger someone, as it is entirely dependent on the individual’s trauma and own experience as well as their coping mechanisms.
PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
It is to be diagnosed. The following symptoms will constitute a diagnosis:
1. Exposure to a stressful event(s) or situation
2. Persistent remembering or reliving the stressor (flashbacks, vivid memory, dreams)
3. Avoidance of stimuli associated with a stressor (i.e. avoiding certain music, places, foods, etc.)
4. Either: – Inability to recall partially or completely the time in which stressor occurred- Persistent symptoms of increased arousal that were not present before the event (anxiety, sick, etc.)
PTSD impairs daily life.
Type 1 and Type 2 Trauma:
Type 1 trauma relates to a single traumatic blow.
Type 2 trauma relates to prolonged, repeated trauma.
Treatments for PTSD:
Psychotherapy (talk therapy)
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): understand and change patterns of thinking and behavior that create negative emotions.
Exposure Therapy: safety facing what frightens you, usually in imagined scenarios, even virtual reality.
Hypnotherapy used, not reliving the incident.
EMDR – Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing
Medications: antidepressants, anti-anxiety, Prazosin (nightmare suppressant)
Stages of Recovery as outlined in “Trauma and Recovery” by Judith Herman:
We highly recommend anyone wanting to learn more about trauma to read Dr. Judith Herman’s Trauma and Recovery on their own to gain greater insight on these stages.
– A Healing Relationship (with a trustworthy therapist they feel safe with)
– Remembrance and Mourning
– Reconnection (often the time therapists recommend self-defense training)
Universal Coping Mechanisms
1) Flight: withdrawal, disassociation, feeling trapped, running away, avoiding people, memory and concentration problems.
2) Fight: aggression, hyperarousal, irritability, anger, fixate on justice, control desire, suicide or self-harm (cutting), externalized feelings.
3) Freeze: Frozen/stuck in life, helplessness, fear, alarm, strong startle response, panic, constricted, internalized feelings.
4) Submit compliance, lack of boundaries, people-pleasing, enmeshed relationships, codependence one way, depression, shame, guilt, lack of sense of self.
Overall Effect of Trauma
Reactions to trauma vary from person to person. From minor disruptions in an individual’s life to debilitating responses. Across the continuum, people may experience anxiety, terror, shock, shame, emotional numbness, disconnection, intrusive thoughts, helplessness, and powerlessness. An important variable is an age at which the actual trauma occurs. For children, early trauma can have especially negative consequences, impacting the development of the brain and normal developmental progression. Memory is often affected; people may not remember parts of what happened, but at the same time may be overwhelmed by sporadic memories that return in flashbacks. Nightmares, depression, irritability, and jumpiness are common. All these responses can interfere with an individual’s sense of self, safety, and self-efficacy, as well as the ability to regulate emotions and navigate relationships.
The physiological adaptations that some people develop in response to trauma and perceived ongoing threats produce an underlying state of “dysregulation”—difficulty controlling or regulating emotional reactions or behaviors, and/or an imbalance in the body. This often results in hyperarousal and hypervigilance—in which an individual seems to overreact to every situation—or listlessness and dissociation, in which an individual seems numb and disconnected in stressful or dangerous situations. This dysregulation of the brain and body systems perpetuates mental, emotional, and physical distress.
Physical health also is affected: trauma survivors may experience chronic pain, gynecological difficulties, gastrointestinal problems, asthma, heart palpitations, headaches, and musculoskeletal difficulties. Chronic danger and anticipation of violence put incredible amounts of stress on the immune system, possibly lead to an increased susceptibility to autoimmune disorders, chronic fatigue, and other illnesses. An excellent book we recommend reading more detail on this is When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress by Gabor Mate.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is one type of mental health disorder that can result from trauma. Experiencing symptoms from the three symptom clusters: intrusive recollections, avoidant, numbing, and hyper-arousal symptoms are central to the current diagnostic criteria for PTSD.
Finally, Trauma is complex, varying and no two people experience trauma in the same manner. Like anything else in life, it is filtered through the individual’s own perception and experience. Also, no two people will have the same triggers or react to triggers in the same way.
One of the most important things to take care of immediately after a self-defense situation is to check yourself for injuries. Many people survived an attack only to die shortly after from loss of blood or swelling of the brain. Had these individuals checked themselves for injuries, they could have had a much better chance at survival.
The first thing you do once you are somewhere safe is to look at your hands. Is there blood on them? If yes, and this was a self-defense situation, avoid washing your hands. Instead, wipe the blood down on your clothing, effectively saving it as evidence and potential DNA. Once your hands are cleared, begin checking yourself top to bottom:
Begin with your face, ears, head, and neck. Pause and check your hands. Is there blood present that you picked up during your check? If yes, find out the source of bleeding and patch it up immediately. If not, continue.
Keep checking for blood throughout your entire body, making sure to pause often to check your hands. Avoid checking the entire body without pausing throughout. Any source of blood you find must be taken care of immediately. If you have hit an artery this is extremely serious, and you are still in extreme danger. Creating a tourniquet immediately and placing it above the wound should be your very first action. Improvisation of a tourniquet through a shoelace, belt, ripped clothing, anything long that can be tied tight will work. If you only have one hand, you can use your teeth to assist you. Tie it as tight as you can, and make sure to elevate if possible. If you are able, use something long and hard like a stick, tie the ends of the tourniquet to the stick and then twist until the bleeding stops. Arteries that are hit, depending on the depth, can cause you to bleed out in under 5 minutes.
After you have checked everything, whether you find injury or not, you must get your head checked. You may have hit and don’t recall it during the adrenaline rush.
Learn more about other courses you may be interested in