way to march a thousand miles
and still win the battle, is make
the other side march it.
Pyramid of Personal Safety
There is no reason to live in fear of crime and violence. There is
however reason to take reasonable precautions. And in doing so, you will
have deterred most criminals from choosing you as their victim.
The reason is simple, there are thousands of people around who are easier
and safer targets. The harder you make it for the criminal to victimize you,
the more likely he is to go ply his trade elsewhere. You won’t have stopped
the criminal from being a criminal, but you will have stopped him from
you as a victim.
With this in mind, personal safety can be viewed as a pyramid. Each level
not only increases your safety, but builds upon the level under it to create
a cohesive and consistent whole. This way you have a solid structure, rather
than a patchwork of “do this for this situation and that for another”
answers for personal safety. Such a fragmented approach requires excessive
work, inconvenience and, often, drastically altering your lifestyle. What’s
worse is it still leaves opportunities and openings for you to be attacked.
This pyramid is designed to work with your lifestyle, not change it.
Start from the bottom and work your way up. Each level takes you higher
and keeps you safer. It does this by creating a consistent network that
works simultaneously on several fronts. What will stop a burglar will
also foil a stalker or a break-in rapist. What works to stop a mugger will
also foil a serial rapist or carjacker. This consistency closes the gaps
left by a fragmented approach — gaps that crime and
come through to enter your life.
While it might seem like a great deal of work, this system is, in fact,
simple and easy. Once it is in place, it requires no more than a minute from
your daily routine to ensure your personal safety. And we do mean a
minute. And not all at once either. Just five seconds segments, that
collectively add up to no more than a minute a day. In addition, while the
pyramid works better when all levels are involved, just using the first four
levels will serve to keep you safe from a majority of crime.
The foundation that the pyramid
stands upon is knowledge and understanding. This means knowing how the
violent people think and what they need to
succeed. These aren’t good people gone bad, they’re
bad people gone worse. You also need to understand what
provokes violence, what
violence really is and that it comes in many
different levels. Without this
fundamental understanding, there can be no cohesiveness in what you do
to protect yourself (and your property).
Walk-aways are things that you do once
and just walk away from. These are security measures that, once in place,
serve as both deterrents and safeguards. Generally, these are things you can
your home or
to discourage and foil break-ins.
When done correctly, walk-aways are like an iceberg — what is apparent
above the surface serves to warn away most would-be
burglars — but the bulk is under the surface. And that hidden bulk is
what will sink the burglar’s ship if he doesn’t take the hint and steer
clear. Criminals do not like the unexpected. Walk-aways are unexpected snags
Often this unexpected resistance is enough to scare the criminal away.
However, for the more determined criminal it is a hindrance that will serve
to slow him down and increase the chance of him getting caught.
Walk-aways not only to keep your home safe from burglary when you are not
there, but serve as an early warning system against break-in when
you are home. This becomes a critical element if you are in a
stalker situation as home security walk-aways are your first line of
Habits are those repetitive actions
taken daily to ensure your safety. They are simple acts you train yourself
to do that significantly decrease the chances of a criminal
choosing you, or
your property, as his target.
They can range from remembering to enable your “walk-away” security
measures (i.e., locking doors, windows and closing your drapes when you
leave), never leaving your
car running and unattended, to not leaving valuables in
plain sight on your car seat, to looking around when you enter a
fringe area or before you
reach your car Such habits are not difficult to ingrain and, within a
week or two, become automatic.
The reason they are effective is that they either remove items of value
from sight, deny easy access or complicate things for the criminal.
Moreover, they give you early warning that something is wrong. This is
essential for foiling the criminal’s attempt to
develop his plans unnoticed and without opposition.
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Awareness is born of a blend of
habits and knowledge. One part would be knowing where a
would lurk in a parking garage in order not to be seen by security personnel
or potential victims. Having the habit of looking around and seeing if
anyone is loitering in that spot when you enter the
parking structure is the other. If you see known
danger signs, turn around and
— don’t walk into the lion’s jaws.
We have a saying “Awareness without knowledge is paranoia.” The blending
of knowledge of what is really
involved in a crime, what certain things mean and the forewarning that
your good habits will give you instill within you a calm confidence. It’s
like driving a car, if you pay attention and remember to do what you know
about driving, you can easily avoid most accidents and problems. It is
however, when you forget to do those things or get involved in other things
that your car gets wrecked and you get hurt.
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Maneuvering and positioning are
knowing where you don’t want to be. There are positions from where an
assailant can (and probably will) successfully attack you. If he (and his
cohorts) can achieve these positions, your chances of effectively defending
yourself are slim to none. And Slim left town. The violence will be swift,
intense and aimed at your weak spots. Unless you are willing to commit
extreme physical violence in self-defense do not allow this
situation to develop. Positioning is a strategy game. It is the
criminal trying to put you where he wants you and you moving so he can’t.
The thing is this game is very real and
very dangerous, it is however, not apparent on the surface. We have a
term we use that describes this condition: “shadow
dance.” And that means something is going on that everybody knows is
occurring, but nobody talks about it openly. Foreign embassies are
prime examples of shadow dancing. On the surface, they are for diplomatic
relations, commerce and to assist nationals traveling between countries.
However, integral to their very foundation is spying, both the committing
and preventing the host country from doing the same. So while everyone from
the ambassador himself to the lowest secretary is either doing it, or has
been trained to prevent it, nobody talks about it or admits it is happening.
What’s happening isn’t innocent, but it is hidden behind a facade.
Criminals engage in
shadowdancing all the time. They are pretending to be doing
something else. If they blatantly display their intentions too early their
“prey” will either elude them or have time to successfully defend
themselves. Therefore the criminal most often tries to hide his intent until
it is too late. This need for subterfuge can be turned against them however.
As they quietly try to jockey you into position, you just as quietly
slip away. What are they going to say, “Hold still so I can rob you?”
Criminals most often rely on their victims not knowing the “game
is afoot” long before a weapon is displayed (by then it is too late).
But by you knowing what the criminal needs and not letting him develop it
nonviolently protect yourself from crime and violence.
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Knowledge of self-worth and
is essential to not becoming the victim of crime and violence. Even if
you have decided that you are not willing to use
physical violence to defend yourself, until this point the pyramid still
works. It is however, important to realize that no matter what your decision
about using physical
self-defense to protect yourself, that you have come to a crossroads.
A crossroads that requires
Aside from the obvious implications, when we use the
terms knowledge of self-worth and
boundaries, we also are including
knowing how you think, the difference between
assertiveness and aggressiveness and how
you are coming across.
self-worth, it is a commitment to yourself. It is the knowledge that
neither you nor your loved ones can afford you to be victimized. It is also
knowing when you are justified to tell someone to “back off” and just as
when to stop! Which brings us into the boundaries issue.
When you are dealing with a potential assailant, you must remember you
are being confronted by a totally
self-absorbed person, who is not afraid to use violence to
get his way. The last thing you want to do is
fear take over or invade
his space! Any of which will provoke him.
If you do he is more likely to become violent. If you don’t know where to
stop, you can
provoke a situation that could have ended
In the same vein, you cannot hide behind avowed pacifism while still
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Verbal boundary enforcement is
communication. It is letting a would-be assailant know that you are aware of
what is occurring and that you are committed to doing whatever it takes to
This is not threatening nor blustering; it is a clear cut message for him
off mah land.” And that failure to do so will have unpleasant results.
This is being assertive, not aggressive. You are doing what it takes to get
him out of your boundaries, not chasing him down the street. Before you
vocalize: Know how far
you are willing to go
Physical self-defense is the last ditch
effort. If it gets to this point through all the other levels, it has been
forced here. You are justified to do
what it takes to stop him. While some people choose not to participate
use of force
in order to defend themselves, others have no such qualms. Either choice
carries responsibilities. Physical
self-defenseis not about fighting, it’s about not being hurt by
violence. Nor is it about being
fearless. It is not necessarily studying the
martial arts nor
buying a gun, it is doing what you have to do to keep from being hurt,
raped, robbed or killed. And then dealing with the authorities and
Knowing that personal safety involves all these things, we want you to
think about the quote at the top of this page. The one about making your
enemy march the thousand miles. In essence, the pyramid of personal safety
makes it so someone else has to do all kinds of work to climb that pyramid
in order to attack you. Not only is that climb difficult (and therefore
makes it easier to attack someone else), but it gives you all the warning in
the world to
mentally prepare yourself for what you
need to do in order to stay safe. The best way to stay safe is to
convince the enemy that it’s too much trouble to march a thousand miles and
then to risk a battle he’s likely to lose.