Parents and kids safety
2 min read
This course is designed to alleviate a parent’s concern while also enhancing children from birth to adolescents’ safety, giving parents the knowledge, confidence, and assertiveness to ensure it.
We believe that from a young age that violence prevention in all its various forms should be part of one’s daily routine. This especially goes for children and teens, considering the disturbing rise in bullying and human trafficking. The emphasis here is on prevention first and foremost.
We stress a proactive approach, focusing on the understanding of awareness and intuition, how to use thoughts, voice, sight, fear, and foresight to help avoid violence in all its forms. The physical aspect of fighting is only encouraged as an absolute last resort.
Learning about self-preservation through prevention, stressing awareness, and intuition while also understanding the negative impacts of using violence when it wasn’t fundamentally necessary, will give younger individuals a less fearful and more positive outlook on life. In turn, this will help them grow up to become better adults. There is a big difference between being paranoid and being aware. Children ought to live their lives freely, yet simultaneously vigilant about their personal safety.
Part of this information is addressed to parents, and part to children taught by their parents. Whether reading on your own, with your children, or them reading it themselves, it will depend on their age and level of maturity. In any case, we recommend that you, as a parent, discuss it with them, ensuring they understand every aspect of it.
01. WHY CHILDREN NEED TO BE AWARE
7 min read
Being aware means being attentive and alert to avoid being tricked or getting into an awkward or dangerous situation.
Consulting crime statistics, newspapers, and television news, it is becoming increasingly prevalent that teaching children how to protect themselves is becoming a necessity.
An excellent article of worldwide stats on Child Sex Abuse (C.S.A.) gathered and broken down into detail. Includes the following diagram on control and prevention of C.S.A. (feel free to move to the appropriate section in the course):
– Link to the statistics of missing children per year in various countries. If your country is not on this list, it is because the country either does not collect this data or there are unreliable sources online: https://globalmissingkids.org/awareness/missing-children-statistics/
– 1 out of 4 adults worldwide report having been physically abused as children
– 23% of worldwide children report physical abuse
– 36% of worldwide children report emotional abuse
– 16% of worldwide children report physical neglect
– 18% of worldwide girls (female children, not women) report sexual abuse
– 8% of worldwide boys (male children, not men) report sexual abuse
– 90% of the time in sexual abuse or sexual assault the perpetrator is known to the victim (i.e., family member, a friend of the family, neighbor, teacher, coach, clergy member, etc.)
– 10% of the time in sexual abuse or sexual assault the perpetrator is a stranger
– According to World Health Organization, W.H.O, every year, approximately 41,000 children under the age of 15 are victims of homicide. It is noted, however, that more deaths from child maltreatment go unreported — since they’re incorrectly documented as due to other causes.
– According to W.H.O., research shows that children with disabilities are four times more likely to suffer from abuse or neglect.
-70 to 90% of young offenders will most likely recommit crime once released from youth detention. (There is a higher success of not becoming a repeat offender when community service, therapy, anger management, and supervision is enforced rather than incarceration in youth detention.) http://www.cjcj.org/news/5476
– members of gangs or groups commit two-thirds and three-quarters of all offenses committed by young people. https://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unyin/documents/wyr11/FactSheetonYouthandJuvenileJustice.pdf
– Most violent criminals have been abused physically, sexually, emotionally, psychologically, or were neglected while growing up.
– Reported cases do not fairly represent the reality of the prevalence of violence and abuse on children. Many cases never get reported to officials; many get explained away as play injuries, accidents, bad dreams, and confusing them with reality. But any professional in psychology, children’s services, or emergency room staff, school teachers and counselors and others that see firsthand the effects of abuse and neglect, they will tell you it is more common than statistics accurately reflect.
Awareness and Intuition
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, exude confidence, be undistracted, and preferably not isolated.
How do you do that?
Many self-defense systems espouse strategies for you to appear like you know where you’re going, looking “confident” and “walking with a purpose.” If you appear confident, no one will mess with you. But what if you do not feel confident? If you don’t feel it, you won’t look at it. That being said, we have good news and bad news.
The bad news: we can’t teach confidence in just a few typed out sentences on a website.
The good news: 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 equipped with awareness and a greater 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 means not losing focus as to where you’re going. Walk as if you have a specific destination and a certain amount of time to get to it. This practice can give you some level of appearing confident, sure, but to a seasoned predator, you just look like you’re in a hurry. This could translate into the appearance of frantic behavior, making it seem 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 being aggressive. 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. Always walking around with that mindset is a recipe for toxicity.
It isn’t empowering or even 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, thereby potentially escalating the chances of confrontation.
That’s not to say that confidence can’t be attained. However, you don’t acquire it through faking it or appearing rude to every person you pass by.
Another aspect of looking confident is 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 an average level of sound we experience.
2 Awareness Games
‘Give it a Name Game’
When we hear something that is above the average level of sound wherever you may be, (like a car horn honking, someone yelling, or any sound that just rises above the average decibel level), we recommend outright acknowledging it. ‘Name’ what you just heard in your head or say it out loud if it helps.
By doing this, you are keeping yourself in a heightened state of awareness since you are paying attention, in turn, automatically making you a less desirable target.
By playing this game, you can project an air of organic confidence, lowering your chances of a conflict. Again, 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. This often consists of too many stimuli 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 a potential threat in the environment, to being ambushed walking the streets or while jogging.
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 always working while you’re conscious, unconscious, or comatose.
Our intuition is consistently evaluating immediate surroundings based on all of our functioning senses, including tactile, sight, smell, taste, and hearing. The subconscious mind stores all the information collected by our insights from our immediate environments. If anything seems off or potentially threatening, it sends us a signal through 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 perception 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 not only highly recommend but have made an absolute must-read for all our students 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.
02. For parents
15 min read
Safety begins at home.
The cycle of violence usually originates in the home or very close by. According to the website below:
“Those who molest children look and act just like everyone else. There are people who have or will sexually abuse children in churches, schools, and youth sports leagues. Abusers can be neighbors, friends, and family members.
People who sexually abuse children can be found in families, schools, churches, recreation centers, youth sports leagues, and any other place children gather. Significantly, abusers can be and often are other children.
• About 90% of children who are victims of sexual abuse know their abuser. A stranger abuses only 10% of sexually abused children.
• Family members abuse approximately 30% of children who are sexually abused.
• The younger the victim, the more likely it is that the abuser is a family member. Of those molesting a child under six, 50% were family members. Family members also accounted for 23% of those abusing children ages 12 to 17.
• About 60% of children who are sexually abused are abused by people the family trusts.
• Homosexual individuals are no more likely to harm children than heterosexual individuals sexually.”
As countless books on child development observe, the sort of adult the child will become usually depends on how much love and praise that a child receives from their parents or guardians. This also includes a laundry list of other factors, like how they are dealt with when they misbehave whether they are subjected to physical, emotional or emotional abuse if they have been victims or witnesses of domestic abuse, their exposure to mental illness, forms of addiction, and the extent to which they are exposed at a young age to violence in the playground. Interactions on social media, television, movies, or in video games while going through abuse are also crucial factors in the analysis.
As parents or caregivers, we are responsible for instilling in our children, the attitudes and values they should possess, notably empathy, compassion, and the ability to distinguish between right and wrong.
We should also ensure that every experience the child goes through, whether good or bad, is a positive learning experience for them and contributes to developing a sense of self-worth and not deprecation or shame. Children must be shown they are loved and cared for through positive reinforcement as opposed to traditional forms of punishment, as science has shown time and time again that corporal punishment contributes to many mental illnesses, including depression and anxiety.
Learning should, therefore, occur in an atmosphere where mistakes are not only tolerated but encouraged as learning experiences. That testing one’s boundaries is accepted as a normal stage of growing up.
Fear of one’s parents may result in children lying and withdrawing from the family milieu, resulting in less communication with potentially serious consequences, like in situations when a child is sexually abused but feels they cannot tell anyone for fear of being accused of lying. Establishing trust with your children is imperative and should be the number one goal.
In one well-documented murder case in Canada, the Bernardo and Homolka murders, 14-year-old Leslie Mahaffy, had gone to a wake for one of her friends who had died in a car crash the prior week. Upon returning home long past her curfew, she found all of the doors locked and lights out. Her parents had locked her out of the house as punishment for missing her curfew again, a frequent point of contention between them. Fearing a conflict with her parents, she walked to a nearby convenience store and called a friend only to be told it was too late for her to have someone sleep over.
With nowhere to go, she returned to her home with the courage to confront her parents. 27-year-old Paul Bernardo happened to be on the same street as the Mahaffy home, stealing license plates. He struck up a conversation with Leslie, offering her a cigarette, luring her closer to his car. Once close, Bernardo claims he wrapped a sweatshirt around her head and forced her into the car. Karla Homolka was not present during the kidnapping claiming to her knowledge that he pulled a knife on her to force compliance. Both have maintained that Homolka was not present during the abduction. When Mahaffy did not show to the funeral for her friend the next day, police were notified, and her mother filed official police paperwork to have her daughter sought out and arrested as a runway.
As parents, we must realize that our method of disciplining should not instill such a state of fear or shame that our children run away from a possible negative confrontation with us regarding their behavior. We’re not blaming the parents by any means, but we must be able to learn from other’s mistakes. We can learn from others experiences and stories, providing us with greater knowledge and understanding on what we can do moving forward.
Parents who talk openly and supportively create a safe environment for their children and become approachable where they will feel more comfortable in bringing their worries and concerns to you. This is important if we are to teach children to be assertive, street-smart, and confident to defend themselves.
Here we discuss simple tips adults can give children on how to be safe. Several concern personal boundaries, or why children should never let anyone do anything to their bodies that does not feel right.
Although it may be uncomfortable for you as a parent or guardian to teach your child about personal boundaries, you must do so. Explaining and reinforcing the precept of their boundaries will help prevent abductions or crimes by those who prey on the weak and vulnerable.
When a child has no boundaries, the chances of abuse or abduction increase; this is especially likely when the offender happens to be someone the child is supposed to trust. 90% of the time, the perpetrator is someone the victim knows.
Begin by emphasizing to your children that they have the right to say ‘no’ to certain things, such as inappropriate touching, even if it means saying no to relatives, friends of the family, or anyone else usually given implicit trust.
This includes receiving hugs of any kind of physical affection. Never force a child to hug a relative or friend as a sign of polite greeting or in any other circumstance. Hugging requires consent and in fact, is the first introduction to learning about consent.
Teach them from an early age that their bodies are theirs and theirs alone. Encourage them to exhibit bodily autonomy by saying, “no, don’t touch me there.” Reassure them too that it is not rude to do so; they would never be in trouble for saying no. If someone has molested them, they should be encouraged to tell as many people as possible, starting with parents, until someone listens and believes them. Again, stress that they will never be in trouble, and it is never their fault.
Always be willing to listen and believe your child. There have been unfortunate cases where a child was sexually abused by a close member of the family. Still, nobody believed the child because the family member was friendly and loveable. However, the family member did commit crimes, statistics showing that the majority of sexually related crimes involving children are committed by an immediate family member or relative, not by a stranger. That’s not to say that one shouldn’t be wary of strangers as well.
With trust, proper education, and communication skills, your child should approach you if anything bad should ever happen to them. Let them tell you in their own words, with drawings or dolls (whichever is more comfortable depending on their age), to explain what happened.
Take care not to interrupt, suggest words, or modify in any way, shape, or form what is being said. Simply listen without suggestion or ‘leading’ of any kind. Otherwise, your ideas or interpretations (not to mention outbursts of sorrow and anger) may confuse or even further the child’s trauma.
Equally important, to believe them and to not blame the child or make them think it could have been their fault. Contact the authorities as soon as possible.
An unattended child is a child at risk. Even if unattended for 10 seconds, that is all it takes.
If you are unable to pick up or meet your child for whatever reason and you are sending someone to pick them up, create and have a password (or the answer to a question) between you and your child and tell the educator or caregiver that only someone who knows the password may pick them up.
Therefore, if someone you did not send tries to interact with them, not knowing the password on the first try, your child should refuse to leave with them. Running while screaming, “please help me. This is not my mom or dad!” might also be necessary, depending on where the incident takes place. Make sure the password is not common or easy to figure out by someone you or your child might know.
There are three things these types of predators don’t want: to get caught, get hurt, or have attention drawn to them. In one case, a man walked into daycare and pointed to the caregiver, a little girl whom he had to pick up. When the educator asked the man for his identification, the man turned and fled.
Abductors will try anything to kidnap a child. Therefore, a password can be beneficial, not to mention excellent communication between the parent and the staff of the daycare facility or school.
Arrange with your child an alternative place where they can wait for you if you are delayed, especially when it gets darker earlier in the winter. For example, inside a well-lit store, restaurant, library, or an arena or school rather than out on the sidewalk.
Find out if your child’s school has a call-back program in case your child isn’t in school when they are supposed to be. A phone call should be made to your home or work to notify you of their absence. This will also make it quite difficult for your child to skip school. Notify the school in advance if you cannot pick up your child and let them know who will be responsible for doing so.
Make sure to check your babysitter or live-in caregiver’s credentials thoroughly. It’s also better to find a sitter through close referrals than an advertisement. Explain to them the rules that you would like respected, such as no friends allowed over, no opening doors to anyone, no distracting phone time, and calling 911 if you suspect anything that may be harmful and dangerous.
Always know where your child is and where and how you can reach them. Obtain their friends’ phone numbers, emails, social media accounts, and street addresses in case you need to contact them. It’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with your children’s friend’s parents on an acquaintance level.
Make sure your child always calls you when they get to their destination to let you know everything is all right. A call rather than a text message is crucial, as anyone could have taken their phone and texted; you need to hear their voice and tone.
If they call you late at night and need a lift home because they are stuck traveling alone (perhaps they’re under the influence), oblige them and pick them up or send someone you know and trust to do so. Do not make it seem like a burden or come down on them for it. Instead, praise them for their proactivity and safety measures. This will continue to build more trust and acceptance.
However, that’s not always possible. You can make things easier for your older child by giving them some emergency money in advance that they could use for a cab or Uber ride, explaining at the same time that it should be strictly used for such situations.
Create or join a block parent organization in your neighborhoods and let your children know which houses they can go to in case they might need them.
Sometimes children must travel, but they shouldn’t go alone or without trusted adult supervision, as there is always better safety in numbers. Predators, especially pedophiles, usually target loners.
No matter where you go or what kind of errand you are running, if young children are with you, then keep them with you. It only takes a few seconds for a stranger to break into your car, driving away with your children or taking them away when you’re too busy shopping to watch them. Moreover, do not allow young children to go to a public washroom unattended, or to wander off and get lost in a crowd. Teach them at an early age how to dial 911 and to learn their phone number and home address by heart. Establish with them at a young age that when in public, you must always be within arm’s reach of each other.
Always keep recent photographs of your children in case they ever go missing; this is a big help to the police. Be sure that you update these pictures every three to six months. Most local police stations will take photographs and fingerprints of children as a precaution if asked.
What to do if your child goes missing
It is a very traumatic experience when you suspect that your child has been abducted, but it’s essential to stay calm and collected. While this may be easier said than done, it is critical to do so.
First, scour your own home. This includes the backyard, garden, garage, and any other area that your child might be. A child may find it amusing to hide from his or her parents.
Call all your child’s friends and places they may be visiting. If necessary, go there or send someone there for you.
Don’t wait too long to call the police. Follow your instincts and intuition. Remember your gut feeling. In these situations, the first few hours are the most crucial.
Keep your telephone free in case your child does call.
Contact friends and family to join in any search the police may organize.
Get the most recent photos you have of your child and prepare a physical description, including a description of what they were wearing. If you have a Child Identification Kit, give it to the police. If you don’t, it is always a good idea to create one.
Contact the media and post on multiple social media outlets. While this may be unpleasant, the different media platforms can distribute your child’s photo and description very quickly through radio, television, the press, and especially the Internet. Also, contact a missing children’s organization to distribute a Missing Child poster.
Let the police do their job.
03. Fear management
3 min read
Contrary to popular belief, fear is a good thing. Understand, of course, that it is what you do with your fear that is important. Fear that is not dealt with could eventually lead to panic, which in turn would render you a victim. To keep control of fear, you must have options, and a plan or strategy for any given situation. I read somewhere once that the acronym F.E.A.R. stands for False Evidence Appearing Real.
Interestingly, we tend to fear things that have not yet happened and probably never will. As the saying goes, “A coward dies a thousand deaths, a hero dies but one.” The “coward” always visualizes himself losing or dying while the “hero” has a plan and visualizes himself winning or surviving.
Thinking about and discussing what you would do in certain situations, keeping in mind what you are learning in this course, helps strengthen your psychological tools like fear management and thinking quickly in the moment. Just as physical training can enhance your physical mechanisms and defense, working the brain will do the same for your mind.
Ultimately, fear is your friend. Fear is a motivating factor and responsible for keeping you alive. Without it, we would continuously be putting our lives in danger. Don’t shrink away from fear; use it as an empowering force to drive you to react to a situation positively. It is essential to understand that when you feel fear, it is reasonable and shows that you are responding normally to a harrowing situation. It’s your body’s way of telling you that you should react now and fast.
How? By turning your fear into anger. By turning the bad guy into an obstacle between you and the people you love. How dare this bad guy try and take you away from your family? What would you do to this bad guy if they were attacking the person you loved the most? What would you do to this bad guy so you can hug the person you love the most again?
The motivation for acting on fear and not freezing in a life-threatening situation is love. The love that one has for the people in their lives and the desire to be with them again. Self-defense is about going back home, back to our lives and loved ones before the bad guy got to us.
This turns enemies into an obstacle as opposed to threats, and fear into anger through indignation.
PROACTIVITY VS REACTIVITY
Pro-action means thinking in advance and coming up with a plan or strategy in case a sudden situation arises. It’s essential to be pro-active, being prepared for the unexpected so that nothing can catch you by surprise. Being reactive instead of proactive means you spontaneously react to a sudden situation without prior thought to its potential existence.
When something happens, and you have a mental blueprint for it, this is the pro-action driving reaction. For example, reading this course is considered proactive. You’re taking precautions and acquiring information and knowledge to have a blueprint in case violence knocks at your door. After you finish reading everything here, you and your children will be better prepared to act. The more we educate, learn, and train ourselves on any given subject matter, the more knowledgeable and prepared we are for any circumstance surrounding said subject matter.
04. Recognition of behavior and patterns
4 min read
This is a vital aspect of self-defense or self-preservation, possibly the most important one. It is being a good student of human nature in any given environment and circumstance.
Take any diverse group of humans (say 100) and place that same group in various environments, situations, or establishments. You will notice that their behavior, demeanors, even the clothes they wear will vary from place to place. One hundred people at a funeral on a Sunday morning will not behave or dress the same way as if they would be at a restaurant or pub after work on an early Friday evening.
All environments and establishments have their respective dress codes and social etiquette. When you enter any establishment, take 30 seconds to scan the place; do the behaviors match the establishments? Is anyone or anything out of place? Pay close attention to anything that seems out of the ordinary. A vast majority of victims get caught by surprise.
Anything out of the ordinary should always be kept in mind, including in our immediate surroundings and neighborhood. For example, an unfamiliar car parked on your street for long periods with someone sitting in it, or someone who always seems to be around wherever you go.
Anything unusual, whether intuitive or conscious, first-time red flags or patterns are raising those flags. Also, be wary of any adult who wants any child to help them with anything like finding a lost pet, carrying groceries, help with directions, and such things. These are just some of the things that should trigger first-stage alarms in a child’s mind. If an adult needs help, they should be asking another adult for help, not an isolated child. A child’s response to an adult asking them for such types of support should politely answer that they aren’t an adult, and if they need help, they should seek one out. Then walk away to a safe area.
Anyone whose behavior seems to have taken a sudden turn or who has taken a particular interest in your child should trigger awareness in them that you both need to be cautious of. If things are going at a rate that makes them feel uncomfortable, they need to be taught to and be prepared to leave the scene.
The following questions are intended to help your child (depending on their age) become more aware of their immediate environment. Think of other questions based on your lifestyles and make up a few. The only limit is your imagination.
- Are you aware of your surroundings (people, cars, animals) when you are walking to and from home?
- Have you ever noticed if there were ever people sitting in unfamiliar cars parked on your street?
- Do you notice groups of people who are loud or behaving strangely at street corners, in the subway, or at bus stops?
- Do you know which areas of your town or city are considered dangerous (if any)?
- Are you aware of who the bullies may be who pick on smaller or weaker children in your school?
- Do you know where you can find a telephone that you could use (if you don’t have a cell phone with you), such as asking a family or mom with her kids that have a cell phone? A local strip mall, bus station, hotel, or elsewhere outside your home?
- Do you sit close enough to the driver when you are traveling on a bus? Do you know where the emergency exits on a train?
Are you aware of whom you can let into your home (if anyone) when your parents are not present?
05. Staying Safe
26 min read
No matter your age or physical stature, your street, neighborhood, and public transportation you use could at one time in your life be the playground of dangerous people who relentlessly prey on their victims. The following tips can help to give you the upper hand on the street, the subway, bus, or anywhere else for that matter.
For starters, refer to the (https://youtu.be/1wqUC1mS-5k) of identifying sounds and anything coming towards you in your peripherals.
On the street
Maintain a safe distance based on your own personal comfort zone between you and people in general, especially if you think you are being followed or watched.
Remember to heed your intuition.
Whenever possible, walk through the safest, most well-lit, highly traveled routes to get to where you are going. Remain near public places, and if possible, don’t walk alone. Stay alert and keep playing the various awareness games.
To give you an example of what can happen when someone is distracted, a 220-pound basketball player who was walking in a rough neighborhood of a city wearing earphones never heard the five guys who surprise attacked him. Lying unconscious, a taxi driver found him, picked him up, and drove him to a nearby hospital. His head required over 20 stitches, his ribs were fractured, and his whole body was bruised and battered.
Perhaps had he been more attentive to his surroundings and environment, he would have been able to act and run at the first hint of danger. Prevention is the mother of self-protection.
If you notice a car slowing down as it approaches you, walk further away from the curb towards any lot, public or private. Get ready to move quickly to a safe place if the car stops at your location, opening its doors. If running is necessary, go for any open, public place and get people’s attention to your situation immediately.
If in a residential area, go to the nearest home, banging on the door frantically, ringing the doorbell. The unwanted attention will more often than not cause a pursuer or potential predator to flee, as the situation is now too much work and the risks far too high. Instead of dealing with just the intended victim, they may soon have to deal with neighbors and passersby. This is making yourself a difficult target.
If the driver calls you or asks you to come closer (as people often do when asking for directions or any kind of help), keep your distance from the vehicle and simply answer that you can’t help them. Proceed to get away from them, as described above.
One tactic used by predators to get closer to victims is murmuring and whispering. If you notice this, do not move closer to hear them. Instead, ask them to speak up. If they don’t, quickly leave the area, maintaining a constant view of them in your peripheral vision to ensure a safe distance.
When approached by strangers
The word “stranger” comes up often, but who exactly is a stranger? You might think we mean a scruffy-looking man, wearing shabby or unfashionable clothes.
They lurk around playgrounds, parks, schools, and other places that children gather. Contrary to popular belief, strangers with bad intentions can be any age, gender, or race; they can even be well-groomed young people. Some may appear very friendly and others indifferent or hostile at first glance, and they can be anywhere.
By way of example, a child is walking home alone from school. An average looking couple in a car — strangers to the child — stop and call out to the child for directions like the serial killer couple Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka did with Kristen French in 1992.
The child gets closer to the car to answer their questions. The passenger opens the door and pulls the child into the car. The child is never seen again.
While cases like this are not standard, unattended or unwary children can be grabbed by strangers anywhere in the world and at any time. Because it does happen from time to time, it is essential to keep in mind that when an adult needs directions or help, he or she should be asking another adult, never a child.
As children, we grow up being told by our parents that we shouldn’t speak to strangers. While this is good advice, it is quite difficult to live our lives, never speaking to anyone we don’t know. Nor can we be expected to live our lives in constant fear of strangers, but we do need to acquire survival skills.
When you use the survival skills already ingrained in you as a human being, your awareness level will increase. When it is acute or at its highest level, it will be easier for you to tell the difference between a “good” stranger and a “bad” stranger.
Children, especially, are often willing to speak to people they meet, and that’s all right as long as they are in a safe place or accompanied by trusted adults or other people. If this is not the case, we offer the following advice:
Do your best to avoid being alone with strangers, especially in secluded or private places.
Besides keeping strangers out of your comfort zone, it is best not to speak to them when you are alone and out and about, even in what may be considered a safe place like one’s home. If alone, answering the door and allowing a stranger potential access to you and your home increase.
As a rule, you should never take anything offered to you by a stranger. It is best to keep them at a safe distance and say, “no, thank you.” If a stranger offers you something that looks like it may belong to your mother or father or that may have come from them, tell him or her to put it down, and you will pick it up after he or she has left. Reach for it only when the coast is clear, and the person is genuinely at a safe distance.
No matter what they ask you to do, walk away and reach a public place or go immediately to someone you can trust. Remember, when an adult has a problem or needs something, they should approach another adult. If you are uncertain about how to handle a particular situation, ask your parents, an older sibling, or any other trustworthy person you may know. Don’t be shy.
Never go alone or with anyone you don’t know to a place where you will be far away from the public: a cabin, chalet, or camping. This applies even if it is at the request of a teacher, police officer, priest, or any type of official you don’t know.
After all, they may not even be who they claim to be.
You must check first with a parent or guardian before going anywhere with a stranger or even a new friend who is close in age.
If your parents are not around and you are invited to go somewhere, tell another family member or a trusted friend where and with whom you will be going. If you have a cell phone, you can also call, voice or text message several people at a time as to where you are going and with whom, even take a picture of the individual and send it off.
Once at your destination, take a few seconds to message a picture and address of the location to a few trusted people. This dramatically increases the chances of finding you should anything sinister or even accidental happens.
Check-in with that friend or relative one or two hours later from wherever you are and tell them that you’re okay. A simple secret ‘emoji code’ is always right, fast, and lets a person know you’ve arrived alright, and things are going smoothly.
Consider having a safe word or code phrase.
If this “new friend” offers you a ride in their car, give your trusted friend or relative the license number, make, model, and year of the vehicle you are going before you go. If your gut feeling and intuition tells you are entering the car, going to the destination or the like isn’t a good idea, listen to it above everything else.
A 13-year-old girl in Montreal had invited several 11 and 12-year-old girls to a party. Naive and willing to be a part of a group, the girls found they had been maliciously tricked into going to a party, which included only older teenage boys with evil intent. While the perpetrators were caught in the end, severe damage had been done to these unfortunate girls, just trying to make new friends.
Overall, no one, no matter what age, sex, status, race, or social, the economic background should not be trusted A) by title bestowed upon any human being and B) in unusual circumstances.
Trust your gut feeling over any physical visual evidence of the contrary. Those girls were enticed by the thought of making new, more popular friends, and may have ignored their intuition and gut instincts because of it.
Although this may come off as more paranoid than cautious, even adults should always let someone know where they are going, when they got there and when they are leaving. This is especially important when on vacation and meeting new people. Whether it is one person or a group of people that you just met, you can never be entirely sure of their intentions.
Online dating has made this a commonplace practice. Friends should always text designated people with either a safe word or have them text a question like, “When is my birthday? What’s my dog’s name?” to ensure that everything is okay. Always play it safe.
A cab should be one of the safest forms of public transportation. The taxi will get you anywhere you want to go if you’re willing to pay for it. They’ve saved many lives by driving intoxicated people to their homes or hotels by keeping them out of the driver’s seat.
Unfortunately, this is the one topic we get the most response and stories from, all from young women. Some taxi drivers make many people uncomfortable. It makes sense; you are alone with a stranger who is in complete control of the car.
You have given them a destination, but since they are in control of the vehicle, they could potentially take you anywhere they want to.
However, there are things you can do to put your mind at ease. When you enter the cab, check to make sure the picture on the license matches the driver’s face. If it doesn’t match, do not get in. Sometimes, however, there is no time during their shifts to make the ID change, and some forget, there is nothing wrong with contacting the cab company to verify the employee.
Another thing you can do is take a picture with your cell phone of the cab, license plate, and driver and send it to your emergency contacts, letting them know where you are going and how long it should take you to get there. These are significant deterrents for any driver with any ill intentions.
Never take a taxi alone, if possible. The more people, the better, as someone is a lot less likely to assault you if there are multiple people present.
Occasionally, the driver will ask you to sit in the front seat. Whenever possible, sit in the back seat, as it keeps you further out of the driver’s reach. We have had hundreds of women tell us they have sat in the passenger seat, and the driver has tried to touch them physically.
You don’t have to sit in the front seat. If the driver tells you they’d like you to sit in the front, circumvent the hassle by only not getting in. Some drivers prefer their fares to sit up front so they can keep an eye on you. Keep in mind, cab drivers have dangerous jobs and are often mugged and victimized themselves, but ultimately, it is your safety that is the priority.
The conversation is not a requirement. Tell the driver your destination and relax. If the driver wants to talk, you don’t have to. Often, small innocent questions will give away some revealing answers. For example, a cab driver picks you up at home to take you to the airport. Along the way, the driver might ask where you are heading, and you say, “Out of the country.”
They could pretend to be interested and ask how long you will be gone. Maybe you say, “three weeks,” effectively telling a stranger who knows where you live how long you will be gone.
This can get your home robbed while you’re away. Be careful what information you share with public transportation drivers.
If possible, talk on your cell phone while in the taxi. This makes you look preoccupied and allows you to have someone on the other end of the phone if there is trouble.
Nowadays, we live in a social media world, and with that came the introduction of Uber. Uber is a ride-sharing service provider, one that is available through an app on your smartphone or web browser. While it fundamentally works just like a taxi or cab service, the same safety precautions apply. There are some differences, and you should consider if Uber is right for you.
For instance, when you request a ride through the Uber app, both you and the driver can see each other’s profile. You are both given the option to accept or decline trips and pickups. You are given info about the make and model of the vehicle, as well as its license plate to ensure you are entering the correct vehicle.
Payment for an Uber trip is made electronically; no cash is handled. Typically, a ride by Uber will be less expensive since Uber drivers (UberX cars) are not part of a regulated taxi company.
However, one should take into consideration that an UberX driver is just that, not subject to the standard regulations that a cab driver is. While they must be at least 21 years of age, have valid insurance, and pass a police background check, the checks stop there. Also, these vehicles do not have the same commercial vehicle insurance or standards, and they do not have security cameras in them like regulated taxis are required to have. While undoubtedly convenient, do your research and find out which version best suits your needs. However, in terms of safety, cabs are ideal.
Buses & Subways
Buses and subways are an inexpensive and relatively safe form of transportation. They are often full of strange and unusual people. Over 90% of females worldwide we have worked with having at one time or another been made to feel very uncomfortable by another passenger, usually by males.
The first tip is to sit or preferably stand up front, near the driver. Most trouble happens towards mid to back of the bus. If you do get into any kind of trouble, be sure to let the driver know, as their number one priority, outside of their driving responsibilities, is supposed to be your safety.
If you choose to sit, be sure to sit on the aisle seat. If someone wants to sit beside you, let the passenger sit by the window as it allows you to get up and move freely without being blocked in. If you don’t want someone to sit beside you, put your bookbag on the other seat, if possible. This gives people an indication that you would prefer to sit alone or you’re inconsiderate. While placing a bag to reserve seats and deter passengers from sitting down is sometimes frowned upon by the transportation company, your safety and wellbeing come first.
Of course, this isn’t always an option, and sometimes it’s standing room only. If there are lots of seats available and someone wants to sit beside you, be especially suspicious. Why have they chosen to sit beside you if all these other seats are available?
If someone persists and sits beside you, get up and move seats, and let the driver know if the person has said or done anything that makes you uncomfortable.
There are predatory men, exhibitionists, and other sorts who especially make women uncomfortable by unwanted sexual advances and deviant behavior. This causes most people to look away embarrassed, horrified, and disgusted, wishing that someone would do something to get them to stop acting the way they are.
A female police officer was riding a bus when one man decided to act sexually deviant. She got up and yelled to others about what he was doing while pointing at him. The man immediately stopped and got off the bus at the next stop.
Richard Dimitri’s mother was eating her lunch sitting on a park bench during her lunch break when a man sat across from her, exposed himself and began masturbating as well, his mom burst into laughter causing the man quickly to vacate the premises.
Many people ask why they stopped and fled. According to the Merck Manual of Mental Health Disorders, Exhibitionism is a form of paraphilia.
Exhibitionists (usually males) expose their genitals, generally to unsuspecting strangers, and become sexually excited when doing so. They may be aware of their need to surprise, shock, or impress the unwilling observer. The victim is almost always a woman or a child of either sex. Actual sexual contact is virtually never sought, so exhibitionists rarely commit sexual assaults.
Exhibitionism usually starts during adolescence. Most exhibitionists are married, but the marriage is often troubled. About 30% of male sex offenders who are arrested are exhibitionists and tend to persist in their behavior. About 20 to 50% are re-arrested.
Exposure of genitals to unsuspecting strangers for sexual excitement is rare among women. Women, instead, are allowed the opportunity to dress more provocatively in public.
Participation in these behaviors, however, does not constitute a mental health disorder. For some people, exhibitionism is expressed as a strong desire to have other people watch their sexual acts. Such people want to be seen by a consenting audience, rather than to surprise people. People with this form of exhibitionism may make pornographic films or become adult entertainers. They are rarely troubled by their desire and thus may not have a mental health disorder, as most people with exhibitionistic tendencies do not have a disorder.
The reason most flee is due to the fact they are not getting the desired responses of shame, repulse, and general submissiveness but instead themselves are being embarrassed and humiliated.
On a rare occasion, we have even had women tell us the bus driver was the problem. If the driver says anything to bother you, be sure to immediately get off the bus at the next stop and contact to inform the bus company of their driver’s actions. They are there for your protection and should not be a potential problem, they are human, and they are fallible by nature.
Some other tips for bus safety include:
If you plan to be out late, know ahead of time when the last bus of the night is scheduled. Knowing schedules is a crucial aspect of staying safe.
Do your best to travel with someone, especially at night.
Be sure to wait for the bus in well-lit areas.
Have your money/ticket/pass out and ready to avoid people seeing your purse or wallet open. Always be alert and know that opportunity criminals are looking for their next victim. Fumbling with one’s purse or wallet is an invitation to predators.
Get familiar with and take advantage of Request Stop programs. Between certain hours most cities have programs allowing bus drivers to stop and let you off between their regular stops, closer to your destination.
Safety precautions when taking the subway are almost identical to those listed above when taking the bus. Specific to subway travel, be sure to find the designated waiting areas (DWA). These are the areas on the platform that are equipped with better lighting, closed-circuit television cameras, and intercom access.
One final tip always is to be wary of pickpockets, especially in tourist-heavy areas. Places with huge crowds like Times Square in New York City, or any gathering more substantial than usual should be treated with caution. Check the website of your local transportation providers for important safety tips on how to carry your valuables, and for common scams being used to catch you off-guard.
Just in case you don’t already know this, do not ever, under any circumstances, hitchhike. Use the emergency money that we talked about earlier to call home or to call a taxi if no-one is available to come and pick you up. Don’t plan to go anywhere by hitchhiking.
We talked earlier about never letting an adult who is not your parent, no matter who they are, take you away from a safe area to get you to be alone with them.
The following are some examples to illustrate the risks you may face and how to avoid them.
a. The schoolteacher, principal, a coach asks you to remain after class to help without any of your classmates being present. There is a difference between working on a school project and one child being singled out to assist. Do not agree to stay if you will remain alone with that person. If you must offer and excuse explaining why you cannot wait. If you do decide to stay, insist on calling home or a trusted friend to let them know you will be staying after school and explain why and with whom.
This example could be applied to other situations such as being asked to stay after church by clergy, after choir practice by the choirmaster, and so on, where you will be the only child present.
b. A stranger asks you for assistance with their grocery bags, or to help them find or get their pet into their car, or even to ask for directions, what should you do?
Remember, if an adult needs help or assistance, they should ask another adult, not a child. Again, under no circumstance should you get close to someone’s car, van, or any type of moving vehicle to speak to the driver or a passenger. If someone asks you to show them where something is located by walking with them, don’t agree to do this. If you really do want to help, tell the person to hold on for a minute while you go get an adult to help them.
c. When someone who appears to be an authority figure (police officer, doctor, teacher, security guard, etc.) approaches you and tells you to follow them because there is an emergency or trouble, you should refuse or insist on calling your parents first before you go anywhere with them. In many cases of rape and abduction, victims who survived described situations in which he/she was tricked into believing that an authority figure wanted them to follow.
If someone threatens you or shows you a weapon in a public area and orders you to go with them or else they will hurt you or someone you love, one option is to immediately run and scream for assistance as loudly as you possibly can to attract attention. This will, for the most part, cause the predator to flee due to the sudden and unexpected attention drawn to their situation.
After the predator has fled, try to remember what they looked like, how tall they may have been, what they were wearing, if any tattoos stood out, the color of their eyes and hair, if they were wearing a hat or not, anything so you can describe them to authorities. This can be practiced every day when you run into people for a short time, after they leave, see if how much of the above you can remember from them. It is an excellent form of awareness to practice, honing your observation skills.
A verbal response is usually preferable over physical contact whenever possible if the potential aggressor hasn’t made any physical contact with you.
All too often, children and teenagers are drawn into horrible circumstances by people who seduce them with money, attention, or promises of stardom.
Anyone can present themselves as a photographer, TV or movie producer, talent scout, theatrical agent, artist, or painter and say to you that you are the person that they have been searching for. Be aware that this may be a ploy to get you to follow or meet them at a secluded location, so ask yourself why this sudden interest in you.
If they’re legitimate, they will agree to meet you at another time and in a public place and with your parents there. Be careful of scams that absolutely need you now as their star falling ill and you being the perfect replacement. No matter how much of a hurry any casting agency may be to hire someone for anything pressing, they have to do it legitimately and legally, and that includes having a minor’s parent’s consent for such things.
Whatever the case may be, you must, without a doubt, first, notify your parents or legal guardians. Indeed, before you let anyone photograph you, record, film, or take you anywhere with them. The individual’s credentials must be verified byyour parents and only with their consent and supervision should you agree to do any type of modeling, acting, singing, or posing.
Even as an older teen or young adult, be wary of these types of lures as you do not need your parent’s consent, and they know this. Even legitimate scouts,photographers, directors, producers, and stars alike have been known to be notorious predators such as infamous industry icons like Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby.
06. Safety at Home and Work
18 min read
Home Safety – Home Break-in
If you arrive home and you suspect that your home has been broken into, don’t go in. Sometimes your emotions may take over, and you want to run in to see what happened, what was stolen, or you may even want to confront the robbers out of anger and resentment. This can end in disaster as you may have now put the robbers into a position of defender, survivor and by proxy, predators. Instead, exit the premises as you head somewhere safe and call 911 immediately.
If you are in the house and you suspect someone is breaking in, do your best to exit the house immediately unless you do not have a clear exit route. It is always a good idea to be proactive and not only have a preplanned escape route but a prepacked bag with a change of clothes for all potential weather conditions ready to go at a moment’s notice.
If you can’t exit safely, go to a room, you can lock yourself in. While the lock may not be enough to stop an intruder breaking the door down, it may give you a few extra seconds to call 911. Therefore, you should have not only a portable phone with you but also a cell phone that you can easily access during an emergency.
That said, it is essential to understand that when seconds count, the response time after calling into 911 is anywhere between 10 minutes to an hour or more. In Ontario, Canada, a grade 9 girl had valiantly defended herself against an adult male who, after fatally assaulting a family member, sexually assaulted and attempted to murder her. She was finally able to call 911 after surviving her ordeal only to have authorities show at her door an hour later.
At the end of the day, if you are dealing with violence, you alone are your last resort, and the only one you can count on to save your own life. Putting that responsibility on others has cost too many their lives.
There is value in having a code word with your household members that you could use to indicate to other members that there’s an emergency.
Things like living in the country or outskirts of a city will add time to anyone getting to you for help, including authorities, along with making it much harder for any neighbor to catch on and potentially call the police for you.
Home Safety and Service People
We usually ask how many people open the door when the doorbell is rung or look out the window and open the door even if they don’t recognize the person. Many people open the door to strangers because they feel it is rude to talk to someone through the door. We can’t emphasize enough how dangerous this can be. Having a chain on the door will not stop someone who is motivated to gain entrance by any means. The chain serves as a mere inconvenience to someone intent on gaining entry.
If you are not expecting anyone, or if it is a service person of any kind, you should ask to see identification through the window and contact their head office to ascertain if their presence is warranted. Letting them know you are doing this will generally make any poser leave. If you can’t see through a window, ask for their info, write it down, locate their company, and call.
One woman who opened her front door to a serviceman who was supposedly there to check her furnace told him she hadn’t made any appointments, to which he replied her husband had. His bluff worked. Though she wasn’t expecting him, she still allowed him to come in since her husband made many appointments without telling her before.
The predator then asked where the furnace was, to which she told him downstairs. He politely said, “after you,” giving him the appearance of a gentleman. This was a great way to have her go to the basement ahead of him, making her instantly vulnerable and allowed him access to higher ground.
Pay attention to the individual at your door; are they looking past you on either side of you? That is usually an indication that they are scoping the environment seeking if there is anyone else in the home.
Setups come in various forms. Picture a woman at your door crying and indicating her baby is hurt, saying she needs a phone to call her husband or 911, and her phone died. Wouldn’t you be more likely to let that woman in? This is an excellent way to take advantage of someone’s kindness. Our best advice to these situations is to offer and make the call for them while remaining in your home securely.
We don’t know of any argument anyone can have with you making the call for them if they are indeed in some form of peril or other. If you decide to let them use the phone, have them back several feet from your door and slide it over to them, but understand you may now be without a phone, and if there are others out of your sight, you may be ambushed. It all comes down to your intuition and what you are comfortable doing.
If you are not alone at home and there is a ring or knock at your door, have someone else also check the back and sides of your home environment to be sure the individual at your door is alone, and no one else is trying to enter from the back door. At the same time, you’re being distracted at the front.
Many people tell us they don’t answer the door so they can avoid possible confrontation at the front door. While this may be effective, if the goal of the potential predator is to make sure the home is empty for them to break into the house and they now think no one is home, then not answering the door might not be the best answer. The challenge is that we don’t know the motive or if there even is one.
Cell phones can be an excellent safety device, but they can also make you look like a potential victim, as earlier stated in the awareness and intuition sections. They are great to call for help if you are in trouble, but they also have downsides since most people walk down the street, either talking or texting on their cell phones, oblivious that what is going on around them. When you are busy talking or texting, you are usually looking down, not paying attention. A predator looks at this as a sign that you are distracted, thus making you a prime target.
If you must use your cell phone, make sure you are stationary and looking up and around being aware of your environment. This way, if a potential predator sees you making eye contact with them, they are much more likely to move on and look for another victim.
We quite often have people tell us that if their friend hears them being attacked, they can call the police to come and help. The person you are on the phone will not have the police there in the next 30 seconds, and it is highly unlikely the predator will let you receive self-defense advice from your friend while on the phone. The reality is whoever is on the phone with you will most likely end up hearing you get victimized.
It is vital to keep a single number like 911 programmed into your phone on speed dial. If you end up in a high-stress situation, even a simple number like 911 can be challenging to remember due to adrenal stress. And keep in mind, if your phone is locked and password-protected, chances are you won’t get the opportunity to call at all. Some smartphones allow for 911 calls straight from a locked screen.
Cell phones are good for emergencies. If you witness something happening, unfolding, or you have the time allocated to do so during an emergency such as a break into your home, or after the actual confrontation is over. You made it to a safe place. The phone becomes a deterrent if attempted to use during the conflict with predators.
The home keys
Never leave your home keys in the mailbox, or hidden under the front door mat, or anywhere else that can be found in a 30-second search of the immediate environment. Everyone knows these tricks and their variances. If you’re worried about losing your key, find a cord, attach your key to it, and wear it around your neck instead of putting it in your pocket. It is harder to lose your key when you’re wearing it. If you need to leave it for another party who needs to enter your home when you’re not there, put it in a distant location than anywhere near the door it opens, or leave it with a trusted neighbor instead.
If you and your family live in an apartment building, never let your children enter or remain in a stairwell, laundry room, gym, pool, parking garage, or sealed off area unless you or other trusted adults are accompanying them. All these places offer opportunities to a lurking predator or criminal of chance, hoping to find a child alone.
Ever stand by at an elevator you are about to get on, but you get that terrible gut feeling when the doors open, and you see someone, but you got on anyway?
Why did you get on? We have asked this question to thousands of people from all ages, genders, and walks of life worldwide in over 22 countries to date, and the only four reasons we receive for going in and ignoring our gut feelings are:
1) I was in a hurry or I was too lazy to take stairs.
2) I did not want to appear rude or impolite.
3) I thought I was being paranoid.
4) I could take the guy (only males replied this, and only a tiny percentage of them did)
Let’s break them down one by one with logic and reason.
1) I was in a hurry or I was too lazy to take stairs. How much time would you lose by waiting for the next elevator? That’s how much later you would be to wherever you would be going, and frankly, taking the stairs generally would be faster unless you have a genuine disability preventing you from using them. Very bluntly, Laziness can get you killed. Complacency has led to death and trauma a countless number of times. Self-defense begins with the self, that starts with taking care of ourselves primarily.
2) I did not want to appear rude or impolite. Switch positions on this point and think of a time when you were in the elevator, and someone did not get on after the door opened? Did you care? Chances are that you didn’t. Nor do you probably even have a distinct memory of such a thing happening because overall, these moments aren’t memorable.
Have an excuse ready if you’re overly concerned about being impolite. Something like, “Sorry, I am still waiting for my friend/dad/brother/etc. To get here, we’ll get the next one”.
This does 2 things:
- It gives you that way out of getting into the elevator with a valid reason and eases the worry of rudeness.
- It signals to this individual that you are not alone, which makes you seem less vulnerable and make them think twice of attempting anything.
3) I thought I was being paranoid.
What is the difference between paranoia and intuition? Intuition begins with a feeling and then leads to the thought. The thought usually is, “Why am I feeling this way? Where is this coming from?” We tend to dismiss it, try and rationalize it, and it can cause even brief moments of confusion. Paranoia is the opposite; it begins with a thought and then leads to the feeling and then often leads to an overactive imagination. That thought is usually a snap judgment on someone.
Perhaps you have a preconceived notion about how specific people are, people that look or dress a certain way, or are always sinister. It could even be something like a few months or a year ago you watched a horror movie, and the villain in that movie looked a certain way, and this individual looks like them, but you don’t realize it immediately. It takes some self-introspection before you recognize the connection your subconscious makes while you aren’t aware of it. But sometimes we don’t have time to figure out where it’s coming from because we have to react quickly. If this is the case, always go with your gut feeling if in doubt.
Overall, we feel that taking an elevator is almost always safer. While taking the stairs is excellent exercise, most staircases in buildings are isolated, self-contained concrete chasms. They are usually at the end of long hallways, which makes them a unique area for someone to be attacked. If you do yell, and if anyone does hear the sound, it will usually echo, not allowing someone to pinpoint where distress is coming from quickly enough.
Once inside, where should you stand in an elevator? There are both advantages and disadvantages to standing near the buttons or standing a few steps back, facing the door. Each is dependent on the character type.
What if you are on the elevator and someone gets on with you, and you feel uncomfortable? Get off immediately if you get that gut feeling. That will require you to stand a few steps back facing the doors, so when someone enters and your gut feelings flare-up, you can simply walk out.
By standing in front of the buttons, you have control over them. You are close to the next floor button, which you want to press if you feel uncomfortable so you can get off. The drawback to standing in front of the buttons is that usually, you will have your back to others, making it more difficult to see where they are and what their intentions are.
If you decide to stand in front of the buttons, try to position at an angle where you can see others on the elevator while being close enough to press the necessary buttons if an emergency arises. The perfect button to press if confronted is the nearest or next floor when in doubt or adrenalized, push them all.
With the pressures of a possible attack, pushing the buttons during will be impossible until the attack is subdued. Make sure to stay away from the STOP orEmergency buttons, which is often located at the bottom, as this will stop the elevator, trapping you with the predator(s). An elevator assault, especially if more than one attacker, is challenging to deal with due to the tight confinement.
In the evernt you are alone on an elevator with someone and they press the STOP button, you must be prepared to strike as fast as possible until they are no longer a threat. That means incapacitation, unconsciousness, or death if necessary. There is no reason anyone should be pushing that button unless they are servicing the elevator. This would not be done with someone else on the elevator or at the very least, without prior notice.
The problem with this method is that most of the general population would never have the proper state of mind to strike someone before they have done something to them and would freeze up watching someone press the Emergency button in their elevator. For this reason and those people, we would recommend the option of standing by the buttons instead, as it takes a combative mindset to be able to strike at this level preemptively.
What should you yell if attacked? If you can press the next floor button and you are now in the hallway, the perfect thing to yell would be ‘FIRE!’ in this instance, as this would attract attention and get people out of their apartments, rooms, classes, or offices.
Remember, a predator does not want to get caught, so this is an excellent way to scare them off. While yelling, be sure to start pounding on as many doors as possible to get more people into the hallway.
07. What to do if you are being followed
16 min read
Depending on where you are and how you’re being followed, you should immediately locate a safe place and/or a reliable person.
A young girl who was being followed late one evening on her way home was aware a man was following her because when she crossed the street, he too crossed the road behind her. Without panicking, but with anxiety running high, she went up to a house she chose randomly and started to fumble with her keys, hoping that her follower would think it was her home and leave.
However, the man remained nearby to see if the girl was going to enter the house or not. Seeing that this stranger did not leave, the young girl rang the doorbell and asked the person who answered if she could call the police because someone was following her. The person who answered the door told her to leave immediately and slammed the door in her face.
At this point, she began to feel real fear since the man following her was still lurking in the shadows, waiting for her. She then noticed a flowerpot on the front porch, so, without hesitation, she picked it up and threw it as hard as she could through the front window of the house. The man opened the door in a rage and shouted at her that he would be calling the police. She replied that this was precisely what she wanted, and the man who was following her ran away.
What the young girl did was smart. She realized that nothing was more important than her personal safety and acted accordingly. She then explained to the police what happened, and her parents had to pay for the broken window. Her parents were very proud of the way she reacted. A broken window is a small price to payor one’s safety, especially in a potentially fatal situation.
So, if you think you’re being followed…
Cross the street or go in a different direction as fast as you can. Turn around when the person is still at a far distance to make sure you really are being followed. If you find that someone keeps pace with you and continues in the same direction, chances are they are following you. It’s always better to see at a distance whether you’re being followed than at the close range. Once you’re sure, run to the nearest safe place and call someone you trust immediately. If you don’t have a phone and there is none in the safe place that the public can use, locate a reliable person and tell them that you urgently need to make a phone call because you are being followed by a stranger who may intend to harm you.
For the older kids, another option is, from a safe distance, turn around, and simply ask the person if they are following you. If they are not, they will seem very surprised by your question and generally answer no. To this, you can politely ask them which direction they are proceeding, then proceed to go in another direction, keeping your eyes on them to make sure they indeed keep heading where they were.
If they were following you, they will generally freeze for a moment then turn around and walk away or say no as well, to which you do the same thing as above.
The fact that you spotted them is enough to foil their attempt and make them find another, more accessible, more vulnerable target.
Car Safety – Approaching Vehicle
Many people have safety procedures that they use while approaching their vehicle. First and most importantly is to have your keys ready in your hand, held the natural way one would carry keys. Many teach to carry the keys between the fingers as it “makes a great weapon,” don’t do this. This is not a natural way to carry them, with you having to move the keys to the standard way once you arrive at the vehicle.
Holding the keys naturally is also a much sturdier and more reliable way if one must use them as a weapon. However, as we will see in the visible portion, your hands are much more useful a gun than anything you can carry, including a knife, sometimes even a firearm. A predator is less likely to choose the person with their keys out and ready compared to the person who is busy looking for them in their purse or pocket. Once again, fumbling with keys can open you up for a potential attack. The predator is also aware that you may use them to defend yourself.
The best time to look under a vehicle is from a distance, as it does not require you to bend down to look underneath. Yes, there have been numerous cases of people hiding under cars allowing them to grab an ankle or even cut the Achilles tendon of the person who is about to get in their vehicle, effectively maiming and crippling them. Eliminate this possibility by scanning the area from a distance. It does not take any extra time out of your day to perform these scans. They could make all of the difference.
Check the backseat before getting in as there have been many cases of an offender lying in wait. We have also had clients who have had a husband or boyfriend hide in the backseat to jump up and surprise them, playing pranks on them. This isn’t funny in any way for women who always must take precautions to keep themselves safe.
We’ve had a few clients who were sexually assaulted in the back seat of their cars in underground or above ground mall parking lots. These predators wait in the lots and spot their prey as they park and enter the mall. They wait for them to return, and with a bullhorn waiting to be used in their pocket, they expect until the woman literally unlocks her vehicle to make the bullhorn go off just feet from their mark, startling her into dropping her keys and whatever else she may be carrying.
This attracts the attention of course, but they are sometimes quickly dismissed as juveniles, with everyone going back to whatever they were doing after realizing it was probably just a few kids horsing around. The potential victim doing the same bends over to pick her stuff up, and that is when they jump her, potentially assaulting her.
The defense to this has nothing to do with striking back or any kind of physical retaliation. Instead, it deals with modifying your physical habits.
Car Safety – Parking Your Vehicle
The direction you have your car pointed can also be the difference between being attacked and a quick escape. Picture yourself in a parking lot just putting your seatbelt on, or checking your texts on your cell phone. Suddenly someone starts banging on your driver’s side window or trying to get in the door. Then you must start your car, put it in reverse, and back out without hitting anything. This is a complex motor skill which would be very difficult to do, particularly under duress. If the car is pointed straight out with the car running and doors locked, it is much easier to drive straight out successfully. Some will say that it is more challenging to check the back seat by parking this way, but we prefer it because you would have the door between you and them, with the ability to slam the door in on them if they try to grab you. This is another reason why you should always lock doors immediately once you get in. This could also happen at a stop sign or red light. The fact that most people think it can’t happen is why it does happen because you aren’t aware of its possibility.
Car Safety – Being Followed
If you feel someone is following you while driving, or if someone is pointing from their car, trying to indicate that you might have a flat tire or other problems, even if it is a police car flashing their lights for you to pull over; take a moment to evaluate the environment. Is it later at night, are there other cars around, is it a well-lit public area? Most importantly, what is your intuition telling you?
If you suspect something is not right, never stop. Put your flashers on, maintain speed limit or a bit slower, and keep driving to a spot that is more public with people around. Any law enforcement officer will understand and accept this once you explain why you didn’t stop when he first attempted to pull you over.
The predator wants you isolated, so driving to where there are people who can end this potential conflict is a good rule to follow. It is unfortunate, but nowadays, you can’t just take someone’s word that something is wrong, not even a cop pulling you over.
Unfortunately, it could be a setup. Ted Bundy was known for impersonating police officers to put victims at ease.
Car Safety – Personal Identification
Have you ever left a simple package or piece of mail on your dashboard or car seat? What information could someone gather by walking past your car? What if they saw you and decide to target you? This piece of mail might tell them where you live, whether you are married or single. One simple thing to do is turn it upside down or put it in the trunk or glove compartment, a bag, knapsack, briefcase, so this information is not available to them.
Car Safety – Car Breakdown
1. Always have a fully charged cellphone in the car.
2. Have/call roadside assistant and wait in the car till they arrive.
3. If someone offers help, it is up to you if you want to accept help, but generally, it’s better to ask for them to wait till someone offers.
4. Be hesitant to take a ride with someone.
5. If you do get out of the vehicle with someone helping, keep a safe distance, and maintain awareness for anyone else who may be around. As always, never give your back to someone.
Simply stated, never, ever go to a secondary location. The reason they want you from Point A to Point B is that they cannot do to you what they want to do to you in Point A. Secondary locations are where attacks and deadly assaults can and do happen. In these circumstances, you are looking for a stun and run moment to distract, deceive the aggressor then use the element of surprise to strike and escape as soon as possible.
Never Let Someone Tie You Up
Along with never going to a secondary location is the knowledge that you should never let someone tie you up. Again, they may threaten bodily harm if you don’t comply, but at least you’re free to defend yourself. Being tied up, you are at their mercy. Even if they promise not to hurt you, do not allow it to happen. The infamous 1969 Tate-LaBianca murders began with “Let us tie you up, all we want is the silverware.”
08. The Physical aspects of Self-Defense
6 min read
This part of the course covers the physical aspects of self-defense but on a conceptual level as opposed to a technical one. The actions we recommend are to be used only as a last resort to fend off predators. We suggest that parents or educators first read this part and then either read it to children or improvise in such a way as to make the material easy to understand and absorb. These are the same physical aspects taught to adults.
In case the confrontation does get physical, here are some tips and illustrations that are intended to help you gain the upper hand. Keep in mind, this doesn’t take into consideration the moral, legal, or ethical implications. Just a simple tool and target understanding.
The primary targets on the human body are the eyes and throat. Humans instinctively protect their eyesight and breathing. Why the eyes and throat rather than the groin and nose? Simply because getting hit or jabbed in the eyes and throat is debilitating, making us jump into a defensive mode. Someone who’s survival instincts kicks in, who begins to defend himself or herself, will most likely stop being on the offensive, thus giving you enough time to put some distance between you and your predator. This, in turn, allows you to run as fast as you can, screaming at the top of your lungs. Hit and run; that’s the objective.
Hitting the groin and nose, not to mention some other parts of the body, does not necessarily debilitate an individual, it just hurts. Pain can often be dealt with and controlled depending on many factors, from being a sport fighter to substance abuse. Simply stated, if a predator cannot breathe or cannot see you, he or she is not as much of a predator anymore.
Your body position should be hands up, straight out at shoulder level and parallel to each other, with either foot back making you look passive, agreeable, or submissive, depending on the nature of the confrontation. This position will permit you to protect your centerline from anything coming towards it or around it.
The minute a predator tries to touch or grab you, you will most probably be terrified, and you may either fight back viciously, freeze or run if the opportunity is there. Your goal should be to scream as loud as you can as you lunge rapidly towards their eyes and throat. If you cannot reach the eyes and throat, hit anywhere within reach, using everything you’ve got. Your survival may very well be at stake.
Fingers – Use to jab, rake, poke, crush and stab the eyes, windpipe areas, grab at the ears, the hair even clothing, scratch, tear, rip, gouge all soft tissue targets if need be.
Palms – Use to strike hard the jaw, nose, and face in general.
Elbows – Use to strike face, nose, head, ribs, jaw, stomach, anything you can use the torque in your hips.
Head – Use to butt your predator’s nose, temple, jaw, cheekbone, or corner of eyes. Last resort tool, as if miss and go head to head, could potentially cause anything from concussion to permanent brain damage, so targets are precise.
Knee Use to strike groin, inner and outer thighs. Strictly.
Feet Use toes, tips of shoes, instep, ball of the foot to hit, stomp kick shins, knees, ankles, and the groin area.
When you strike, you must do so repeatedly, hard and fast, without stopping until you have broken free. Once you are free, run to a safe place as fast as you can.
We do not recommend that you use your fists to strike a predator from the neck up, although it is common to see this on TV or in movies. The danger in using a closed fist is that you might end up breaking your knuckles, or worse, exchanging fluids such as saliva and blood.
Shattered knuckles occur when a punch lands on a hard surface, such as the head. It is, therefore, vital to keep your strikes open-handed to prevent injury to your fists. Even former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson broke his knuckles in a street fight.
Some of our recommendations for teaching children the physical contact side of self-defense may sound a tad graphic or over the top. However, we are looking at the worst-case scenario, an adult confronting a child in an antisocial manner. If appropriately taught where the moral, legal, and ethical context for such action is understood by the child, it may lead them to respond much more quickly and effectively to a potentially catastrophic situation.
However, it should be noted that performing movements in the air in front of a mirror after reading this will not suffice to prepare your child to deal with the the physicality of an actual violent attack without proper and professional training.
That includes tool and target development training and scenario replications, including mock attacks performed by professionals and in a safe way.
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