In Part Two of our series, we talked about how emotions play a part in conflict. We also explored why and how bullies “interview” potential victims, and how to set physical and emotional boundaries. In this final installment, we’ll look at what happens when the interview seems to be absent and things escalate. Hopefully, this advice will keep you out of prison.
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No Apparent Interview
These days, random attacks seem to be on the rise. We see videos of people playing the “Knock Out Game,” where they randomly attack strangers on the street without warning. In these cases, the interview normally is not verbal but takes place from afar. The victim is sized up, and if he or she looks safe, is targeted. It’s almost unheard of that predators simply pick the first person they see and attack. The elderly, females, and others who typically cannot defend themselves are typically chosen as victims. Again, the bully wants a safe victim that won’t give him too much trouble.
Also, if a criminal decides to rob a person, there normally isn’t much of a verbal interview; rather, he’s probably going to case the victim and strike suddenly, with little or no warning. Taking the victim by surprise makes it safer for the robber and helps things move along more quickly for him.
These abrupt, random attacks really underscore and necessitate our need for using Situational Awareness at all times. Why is that person behind me? Are they watching me, and why? Why are they moving that way? Are his hands clenched into fists?
Shift your position, and don’t let people get behind you if you can help it. If it’s obvious that you are alert, your chances of becoming a victim are reduced because the aggressors realize that they cannot sneak up on you very easily.
Situation Awareness Eliminates Task Fixation
Again, I cannot underscore the necessity of Situational Awareness enough, it is perhaps our most effective tool in not becoming a victim.
When people get into their vehicles, for example, they often take out their cell phones and absorb themselves in them, oblivious to what is going on around them. This is Task Fixation and it can be fatal. Certainly, this is not the only method by which we task fixate, but it is one we see routinely that is done by the majority of people. Even standing in line at the store, it’s normal for people to whip out their cell phones and absorb themselves.
When you walk out of a store or other business, remain alert, look around, and analyze the people who are nearby to see what they are doing. And not just when leaving a store, but everywhere, all the time.
I Am Done Talking
There have been times in the past when none of these de-escalation techniques has worked. Nothing I did seemed effective and I sometimes said, “I’m done talking. Where do you want to go with this?”
At that point, I had made the decision that a fight might be imminent, and I’d exhausted all of my tools. I left it up to the aggressor what course of action he wanted to take. Sometimes throwing it back into his lap was enough to dissuade him from getting physical, as it left the decision up to him.
I was ready and anticipating his attack, so it wasn’t as though I was going to be surprised and blindsided unexpectedly. More often than not, the aggressor saw my determination and decided it was best not to attack because I could obviously defend myself and was more than willing to do so. The fact that I appeared to be relaxed (appeared to be, not necessarily that I was) seemed to be enough that they usually decided not to get physical.
And that’s the key. Your willingness to fight will discourage an attack much of the time.
It’s A Mental Game
Much of what we’re talking about here is a mental game. Yes, you need to have physical abilities and techniques to back up that mental/verbal game. But long before it turns physical, the mental/verbal battle will be waged. The fight is usually won without punches being thrown, and that’s the best-case scenario that we can hope for.
I’ve had to beat people physically quite a few times in order to defend myself and others. But in my line of work, that was inevitable. With that said, I’ve beaten far more people mentally.
He Who Hits First Usually Wins
That’s just reality. He who hits first usually wins. So if your attacker is clearly about to launch a strike against you, it may pay you to preemptively strike. This is only justified if you are defensive and believe that the attacker is going to cause you physical harm.
This principle of who hits first wins, incidentally, also applies to armed combat, such as knives and guns.
When The Fight Is Over
Ideally, we will psychologically beat our opponent without laying a hand upon them. If things do turn physical, you need to take control of the situation until the threat is eliminated. Once the person(s) no longer represents a threat to us, we need to stop using force. This is very important from a legal standpoint. If the guy is unconscious on the ground and we continue our attack, we become the aggressor and we are legally in big trouble.
Also keep in mind that, when entering physical combat, lots of things can happen. If you hit the person, he could fall down on the concrete, strike his head, and die. You are now dealing with a homicide. Is it worth it?
Even if you’re successful in court, you will undoubtedly incur massive legal costs while defending yourself. It doesn’t take long to accrue tens of thousands (or even hundreds of thousands) of dollars worth of legal fees.
And while you await your trial, you just might be held in the county jail or prison pending the trial. That could very well take over a year! Sure, you may win in court…but you’ll still have spent up to a year or more in prison! And you’ll most likely have no recourse or compensation for that time you spent in lockup.
Does that sound fair? I hope not. Our legal system is not fair; in fact, it sucks! And if I can get you to see nothing beyond the fact that you do not want to have to be involved in our legal system, then I’ve done a good job!
The Bottom Line
In the end, the best thing to do, obviously, is to avoid physical altercations. From a safety and legal standpoint, altercations are nothing but trouble. I believe I’ve given enough examples as to why this is.
Most often, the warfare we engage in begins with a mental battle. If we can be victorious there, that’s the best-case scenario. Hopefully, this article helps readers out with this very common, widespread problem.
Feel free to let us know your thoughts on the topic. Have you ever been bullied? If so, how did you handle it?