The news tells us a different story about assaults.
What is the point of theorizing on issues such as “existential emptiness”, “youth discomfort”, “crisis of values” or otherwise?
The only desolate truth is that anyone can turn into an aggressor or murderer at any time.
The so-called “habituals”, sociopaths, psychopaths, are in some ways the least difficult to manage.
Most of us are instinctively able to recognize them when we meet them.
The problem is that you are often hit by those who are not expected to do so.
Maybe it’s that distinguished gentleman with whom we’ve just started squabbling over the usual contested parking lot, or he’s the usual neighbor we’ve discussed several times about the usual water loss or the noise the kids make.
Suddenly, the gentleman in question, from whom we would not expect more than a banal turpiloquio (moreover moderate, given the common belonging to the genre of “civilized people”), transforms, and the beast that is in him manifests itself with all its ferocity and overwhelms us …
We don’t know why the beast was in him and how long, but he was there.
In other words, preventing violent acts would seem impossible, a bit like predicting earthquakes.
In part it is true, even if there is an important component that people forget too often: the violent behavior of others is in turn determined by our actions, voluntary or not, conscious or not.
In all the news cases I referred to, there has always been a provocation component (whichever side it came from) coupled with a risk underestimation component by either.
We shall now see how.
Prevention can be,provided that thoughts, behaviors and attitudes favorable to prevention are automatic.
The first thought that should be imprinted in letters of fire in everyone’s head is as follows:
You never know the kind of person in front of you!
This is always true with everyone, since, very often, violence comes from known people.
It is not only the case of the aforementioned dirimpettaio that turns into werewolf.
The problem can arise much closer, even within the same home, if it is true that, especially in the case of violence against women and children, the vast majority of cases are the work of husbands, cohabitants, fathers, mothers, relatives, or people who are still close to the family.
Sometimes you realize that the companion of a lifetime is no longer the person who once met.
Or, more simply, we did not notice, we had not seen or banally, people change and over time they are not said to improve, on the contrary, in general it happens more easily the opposite and that people get worse.
So it happens that, almost without noticing, or because we pretended not to see, one day we are forced to open our eyes, and it is generally already late.
If this is true, and testifies to man’s difficulty in understanding even himself, let alone in the case of occasional encounters.
The false security of living in a ‘civilised society’, combined with the underestimation of the other, can play tricks.
That’s what the chronicles say.
Even in these cases, however, there is no real randomness.
Theaggressor,in fact, ‘chose’ his victim and the victim, for his part, made his choice.
By analyzing them it is possible to establish the most appropriate tactics to ward off or reduce the risk of stumbling into such an event.
In the life of each of us can arise typical situations where banally you can create situations potentially capable of leading to tensions or intrinsically dangerous:
- Driving in congested traffic
- Frequenting dark and isolated places
- Carrying out dangerous work (e.g. controllers on trains and buses)
- Crossing at-risk neighborhoods
- Encounters with people impaired by alcohol and drugs
- Fortuitous quarrels with strangers and not
- Encounters with the “herd”
- Other and possible
In all situations which have since degenerated into aggression or brawls, there have been a number of actions on the part of one or both sides which, at the very least, have failed to remove the risk inherent in the situation itself.
All too often, there have been omissions of “reading” the situation, the context and the report, which, in addition to the inherent tension of the moment, have not defused an escalation process or an “opportunity” mechanism favorable to the aggressor…
If you read the experiences and testimonies that I have collected, in all cases that have degenerated, the person attacked had made one or more of these mistakes:
He had not properly assessed the context or physical environment in which he was
He had not given weight to some suspicious elements of the behaviour of the future aggressor
She had allowed herself to be involved in a no-go game of accusations, recriminations and claims
Or he had adopted attitudes that “facilitated” a person determined to attack
All this, in retrospect, may have raised the conclusion that “you found yourself in the wrong place, at the wrong time and with the wrong person”, but, in my opinion, two vital things were missing:
- Having appropriate behaviors
- Having appropriate reading keys to the situation
Have dei appropriate behavior
We all know that there are people who seem to have a strong propensity to get into trouble.
It is also known that, if one wonders why a person habitually stumbles into these “incidents”, the answer invariably will be “his way of doing things”, “his way of responding”, highlighting what is a simple and incontrovertible truth:
it is our behaviors, our way of speaking, of looking at people, thatpredispose us to other people’s reactions.
Knowing how to do the right thing at the right time is clearly the key element of any form of success, as well as survival.
The point is, except for a few innate behaviors, almost everything we know how to do or say has to be somehow learned.
From this it follows that all behaviors useful to keep us out of trouble should be taught to us by someone… But by whom?
From the family first of all, but parents, often and in spite of themselves, can only convey their illiteracy in this matter.
Forget it, it’s rare for him to just take care of it.
After all, do we live or do we not live in a civilised country, with an established order, with a system of laws protected by the honest citizen?
If so, education to provide for oneself simply becomes secondary, generating helpless and careless citizens in the face of the first, albeit occasional, threat.
Yet it should not be so secondary to teach appropriate behavioral norms, since on the website of the carabinieri or the state police there is no lack of pages of practical advice (some appropriate, others decidedly superficial) to improve their personal safety.
In short, as usual, for essential things, even if solemnly enshrined in laws and constitutions as the rights of the individual, we must arm ourselves with patience, common sense and provide for ourselves.
Common sense, in fact.
Since not everyone is endowed with it in the same way, there are simple rules, apparently obvious, that alone could avoid very unpleasant situations: do not frequent dark, isolated, notoriously infamous places, foreign people, etc. on their own.
In short, the classic “grandmother’s advice”.
But what about the fact that, especially in the case of violence against women or children, the aggressor is more often than not a person of the family or in any case in the circle of acquaintances?
In such cases, common advice and common sense are no longer enough.
Among them, I would suggest the ability to communicate properly and the ability to observe the environment and the people around us.
What does the ability to communicate with personal security have to do with it?
It is very important, because in reality every act of violence must never be considered as an isolated event, but as the result of a sequence of communicative exchanges with the relative attribution of roles by the protagonists.
It is well known that most of the attacks are accompanied by a sequence of actions by the victim and the aggressor, according to a precise ritual logic that fits one and the other into a game whose inevitable outcome is the defeat of one of the two.
In this context, the very way in which the future victim interacts with his executioner plays a central role: he can be in an aggressive way, of resistance andreaction, or in a passive way,hoping that a submissive attitude will limit the fury of the other and therefore the damage.
Yet both these passive and aggressive ways of approaching it have obvious limitations: those who communicate aggressively, apply to participate in a process of escalation that will easily end in confrontation.
Everyone will have witnessed a dispute over traffic issues: both sides consider their reasons sacred and indispensable, the “question of principle” becomes the flagship of the whole issue.
In fact, it is onlythe EGO of the two that is confronting each other, the fear of appearing less, the fear of coming to terms with an image of oneself debased by defeat or surrender.
And so for a “matter of principle” the two end up taking by the neck, with unpredictable outcome.
It is no better for those who, out of fear or physical inferiority, give up fighting, hoping in this way to appease the aggression of others in the bud.
Error! Error! Error!
A condescending and surrendering attitude not only does not guarantee that the other will not infuriate but, on the contrary, opens the way to those who are looking for a victim on whom to vent their resentment, their anger or simply their criminal intentions.
There is not only a passive and aggressive way of dealing with conflicts, whatever they may be.
There is an intermediate mode of self-respect and respect for others, the assertive mode.
People who act and communicate in this way are hardly involved in altercations and, if they are in trouble, find it easier than others to get out of it.
In practice, all de-escalation techniques are based on the concept of assertiveness.
The concept is simple:
have respect for others, without disrespecting yourself.
You have to communicate I respect you but I will fight to the end to make me respect.
Working for compromise and problem-solving, learn to negotiate on a reciprocal and non-one-sided basis, be constructive, firm but not arrogant, do not judge who you are facing.
People accustomed to behaving assertively, have a number of valuable characteristics, one of which is the ability to observe and understand others.
Observational capacity is a fundamental element in protecting oneself.
After all, the good cops have developed an instinctive ability to understand with a glance who they are in front of.
Of course not everyone has this ability, although much can be learned with simple curiosity and attention to detail.
In fact, the average attentive person is perfectly able to understand when an occasional encounter is at risk or not.
Beyond the words spoken or the circumstances related to the place of the meeting (for example a substation), a lot of information comes to us from the bodylanguage, which betrays the real intentions in an eloquent way and difficult to conceal.
The problem is that this “sixth sense” is often activated too late, when the person at risk is too close to attempt a strategic retreat and you are trapped.
The reason is that too often, the average individual does not use a level of attention appropriate to circumstances, either for lack of habit, or because he considers circumstances (such as being in a dark, desolate street, where disturbing shadows slip) not worthy of special attention.
In summary, prevention takes place on the one hand by learning to be related to others (you will thus avoid falling victim to provocation or being the provocateurs of your attacker yourself), on the other, avoiding to put yourself at that disadvantage that is exploited especially by the so-called “habituals” to choose their victims.
In this respect, a capacity for observation and environmental assessment that is always in operation is an essential safeguard for personal safety.
Be awake, basically.
There are a multitude of negative examples of this:
- There are people carefree through the parks at night, perhaps with the Smartphone with Spotify pumping loud music into their ears.
- There are ladies who venture alone in insoles in certain deserted parking lots, then stopping in front of the closed car rummaging through the bag, inconclusively, looking for keys or stopping to respond to a message outside or inside the car, etc.
- There are couples who, discarded the option of having sex standing, belong in certain horror movie alleys trusting in the ephemeral protection of their car.
The reality is that the habitual delinquent, the one who systematically acts for the purposes of robbery, theft, or kidnapping, actually observes and selects his victims based on two basic criteria:
- on the possibility of getting what he wants and
- on the possibility of acting by surprise or at the slightest risk.
The surprise factor is so fundamental that almost all self-defense courses insist very much on the need to always have a level of guard appropriate to the circumstances, perhaps using a color scheme that helps us discern the looming danger.
If we wanted to summarize everything with a slogan we could use this maxim:
A relaxed but watchful attitude is evident from the behavior and gestures, representing the first safeguard for personal safety
Always remember that surprise is the first ally of a potential aggressor.
This character almost always looks for a victim and not a fight.
That’s why you always analyze and evaluate the environment around you.
Make it clear to those around you that you have noticed them
The ability to communicate, observe and evaluate is always useful and not only on the street.
Many crimes take place in the “reassuring” family circle or in any case by known people, from whom violent behavior was not expected.
But is that always true?
Most violence against women takes place by their own husbands or former husbands.
If you listen to the stories of these women, the first thing emerges is that behind the single dramatic episode, there is a long history of psychological violence, threats and harassment.
Really wasn’t there to expect a tragic outcome from certain family relationships?
All too often it all stems from a continuing climate of overpowering, so much so that the most delicate and disturbing aspect lies precisely in understanding what drives people, victims and executioners, to remain connected even when the most elementary criteria of mutual respect and esteem have been lost.
Sometimes there are cases of women suffering the inevitable course of domestic violence by her alcoholic husband, without apparently succeeding, nothing can be done to stop the explosion of violence.
Even in these cases, an assertive communication style would help both in order to bring the inevitable conflicts back into the logic of constructive confrontation or, where this is not possible, to temper the tension just enough to avoid extreme consequences.
Sometimes the future victim does not observe the context and communicates with the other inappropriately, with unnecessary insistence or with recriminations capable only of raising the tension, not realizing that the interlocutor is becoming dangerous as a bomb triggered.
It is the scenario of many family or condominium fights, where previous knowledge, the familiarity acquired, seem to overshadow the fact that anger, frustration or interests are still a motive capable of blurring conscience and, especially at the table in front of an extra glass, of compromising the already fragile self-control.
Always have a key to reading the situation
Prevention means knowing how to “read” the context, the situation, the physical environment, sensing the danger that can be inherent in them.
Many times, those who have been attacked tell how events have precipitated quickly and unpredictably.
In fact, this is not the case: too often there have been a lack of reading keys in terms of attention to context and “messages” sent by the future attacker…
Knowing these keys to reading, can make the difference between being able to solve a critical moment in a bloodless way, according to a preventive logic, or being involved in an episode of violence.
Of course I will not return to the possibility of “recognizing” a potential criminal simply from the face he has or from the clothing he wears (although from these elements anyone is able to collect some useful element).
I simply repeat the fact that every generalization is arbitrary and dangerous: you can be stabbed by the classic energumeno of all stereotypes, with bomber, pumpkin and covered in tattoos, or the immigrant, as from the distinguished middle-aged gentleman with signed suit, not to mention his boyfriend / husband.
You can’t do street criminology.
The reading keys must be simpler and more immediate.
When you find someone in front (or behind you), whether you know who they are or not, don’t ask yourself too much.
It’s no use.
Evaluate your propensity or not to hurt yourself based on three simple criteria:
The ability of the subject to harm us can depend on several factors:
- that is, its physical toness,
- whether or not he has weapons,
- whether he’s in a group or alone,
- by the determination it shows,
- whether or not he knows combat techniques,
- et cetera.
This is, of course, a difficult criterion to assess, because small physical toness may not be the guarantee that we will be faced with a resolute and aggressive person.
Gun ownership may not be noticeable and his fighting prowess is usually one thing you find out when it’s already too late.
The motivation to attack us can also depend on many factors, including theft, robbery, rape, anger, but, unlike the ability of the subject to do so, this is an element on which it is possible to intervene at least trying to prevent this motivation from increasing.
Apart from the case of intentional aggressors (the so-called “habituals”) there is a very wide range of troubles that are caused by fortuitous circumstances.
It is the classic case of the two who fight for a parking lot or for a gestaccio in traffic: maybe one of the two had had a bad day, had just lost his job or who knows what else, and here a trivial quarrel becomes the fuse that gives fire to the dust.
Sometimes people hatch a repressed rage that waits for nothing more than to come out into the open.
If each of us remembered the famous saying of “you never know the guy in front of you” we would not embark on unnecessary discussions, capable only of hardening tempers and leading to unpredictable conclusions.
The opportunity we give others to hit us is the last but perhaps the most important ingredient in this explosive mixture.
However capable and determined he is to face us, he will not strike us unless he has some favorable tactical conditions on his side, in terms of attacking position and escape routes.
In other words, those who strike must be able to do so, and for this they need some things, including:
- an inattentive or unprepared opponent
- an opponent at a physical, tactical or environmental disadvantage
These keys to reading the situation can be used in a useful way whenever you meet with people whose intentions are not known.
To sum up, if you are in the presence of a similar situation, ask yourself three simple questions immediately:
- Is he capable? That is, he’s more robust, he’s determined, he’s not alone, he’s armed?
- Is he motivated? Is his mood altered, or could he have interests in robbery/rape, bullying?
- Do you have an opportunity to hit me? I am unable to escape, my physical condition, or psychological condition are of inferiority, I am too close to organize a reaction or escape, am I in an isolated place?
If you answer yes to more than two questions it means that you are in trouble and you have to do something, and right away.
The first thing to do is to focus on the second and third criteria (motivation and opportunity) knowing that something can be done to reduce our opponent’s propensity and chance to harm us, perhaps adopting some technique of de-escalation and deterrence.
Street Fight Mentality & Fight Sport