Monday, April 21, 2008

You have to always fight back

So, it seems past time to post this info. Not "again" since it is seriously updated since the last time. But it is the same as well.

You see, I have once again be "discussing" the idea of self-defense and whether or not it works with various people. A lot of people don't like to think about the need to defend themselves, but crime can strike anytime, anywhere. Crime isn't something that happens in other kinds of places to other kinds of people. (Warren Buffett has been the victim of a home invasion. Why are you immune?) "It can't happen to me," is avoidance at best. Denial ain't just a river in Egypt. Consider how many news stories contain the "neighbors were shocked" paragraph. People can't believe that crime came to their little corner of Pleasantville. They apparently didn't know that they live in the Real World™.

Women faced with violence need to fight back. It makes a positive difference - statistically - in the outcome.
Compared to raped women, rape-avoiders were more likely to be the eldest daughter, taller and heavier, and never married. They played sports in childhood, and held nontraditional views of their future roles. Situational factors positively associated with rape included nighttime, the use of force, no observers, first-floor residence, and inside attack site. Of five active resistance strategies examined, talking was most frequently used, fleeing was most successful, and pleading was least successful. In general, these women all used a combination of strategies in responding to attack. The most frequently used combination of strategies among avoiders was screaming and physical resistance. Avoiders most frequently used three strategies, while rape victims used only one strategy. Fear of rape and determination not to be raped were the avoiders' main concerns, while fear of death/multilation was the victims' chief concern. Avoiders also appeared able to perceive danger from ambiguous clues earlier in the scenario than did women who were raped. Results suggest that the traditional advice that women should not resist a rape attempt may be misguided.
Misguided was an understatement. Women who are removed from one location by an attacker, almost never survive. Resistance is not futile, but can make all the difference in the world.
The results indicate that 85 percent of the women in the study who resisted with physical force did so in response to the offender's initiated violence. The remaining 15 percent who resisted with physical force did so in response to the offender's verbal aggression. Moreover, those women who responded with physical aggression to the offender's violent physical attack were more likely to avoid rape than were women who did not resist such force. Also, the potential for physical injury was no greater for these women than for those who used other resistance strategies or who offered no resistance. These analyses suggest that the correlation often found between physical resistance and victim injury might be the result of the initial level of the offender's violence and should not be used to discourage women from physically resisting rape.
Only the abstracts are available on-line, but they convey the salient points.

Resisting, does not guarantee safety, just as wearing your seatbelt does not guarantee safety. You can still die in a car crash. Wearing a seatbelt only changes the odds. Resistance also changes the odds. There are no guarantees in this life. and are the two most recent stories I recounted on this theme. is list of self-defense stories from various venues and covering various crimes. It isn't ghoulish to know that self-defense works, or to be happy when the law-abiding avoid becoming victims.

The best thing, of course, is to avoid any situations that you can. You cannot avoid a situation that you are not aware of. Be aware of your surroundings. Who is there behind you? Don't walk around like you are looking for spare change on the ground or looking in your purse for your keys. (Your keys should have been in your hand before you stepped outside.) Don't be running around lost in your iPod universe. Trust your instincts. If you think something is wrong, pay attention to it. It may be nothing, but then your safety is worth it. (see this link for a definition of situational awareness.) If you look like a harder target, you may get passed by - in favor of whoever is looking for change or rummaging in her bag looking for keys 20 yards behind you. *

Fleeing is the "most successful" strategy. Get the biggest head start you can. Don't forget that they may run faster than you - maintain the situational awareness. Screaming is good. Scream "Fire!" "Help" people can ignore. "Fire" might just impact them. (And if you hear someone screaming, at least call the police. Don't assume someone else did. Going to their aid can be problematic, but that is why we formed society in the first place. Collect some of the neighbors and investigate in a group. Remember Kitty Genovese. Or see the short version.)

If you have to fight, then you fight to get away with all of your might and all of your heart and soul, or as it has been said, Fight Like a Cornered Cat. And no, this isn't vigilantism. Self-defense is legal, and it is a human right.

Calling 911 is a good idea, if you have time, but even then, when seconds count police are minutes away. This isn't a bash against the police; it is just a recognition of the conditions they work under. And 911 systems often have some problems.

It seems that whenever I talk about self-defense, someone will accuse me of "blaming the victim." The only person I ever blame for a crime is the criminal. See Responsibility and Blame for my position - part of it anyway.

On the subject of "taller and heavier" women being more able to avoid rape, well small women (small people generally) are at a disadvantage in a physical confrontation. Which is one of the many reasons I think more women should carry concealed weapons.
Be Not Afraid Of Any Man No Matter What His Size.
When Danger Threatens Call On Me And I Will Equalize
It is as true today as it was in the 1870s when Colt introduced the Peacemaker; in a physical fight, not everyone is on equal footing.

Where the state disarms you, or if you are not comfortable with firearms and the idea of armed (lethal) self-defense, get a stun-gun, or carry mace (military strength if you can get it) or pepper spray, or walk with a cane. (They haven't outlawed canes anywhere that I know of.) Anything to give you an advantage. All of them are problematic in one way or another. Be aware of the problems. Make a plan and practice it. In an emergency, the best you can hope for is to do what you planned to do. If you plan nothing, then you will do nothing.

* Two guys are camping when their campsite is attacked by a grizzly bear. One guy sits down and starts putting on his running shoes. The second guy says, "Are you crazy? You can't outrun a bear!" To which the first guy says, "I only have to outrun you." Being aware of your surroundings makes you just a bit more prepared than the next person, which makes you just that much less attractive as a target. Being the "tougher target" means not being selected as a target in the first place.

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