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If you can't be thankful for what you have
be thankful for what you've escaped.

Why is Avoidance Best?

On this page:
Other Priorities Will Get You Attacked

Those who have never faced the reality of violence tend to hold other issues as more important than avoiding it. We found a quote that pretty well sums up our opinion of that attitude.

Nothing says "oops" like a wall of flame. --Marion Winik

Well, we tend to think the same can be said about getting robbed, raped, shot, beaten or kidnapped. Those are definite "Oops" events, or as we like to call them 'unintended consequences."

You need to understand that a robber has come to the situation prepared to do violence. And not only that, but a particularly vicious kind of violence. He's not there to fight you, the violence he is ready to use will hurt you.

While most of the time robbers are offering the threat of violence, everything is already lined up to make that threat a reality. The biggest mistake you can make is to attempt to stall the robber from his goal. Realize the difference between the threat of violence and serious harm -- possibly death -- is only a few ounces of pressure on the trigger.

That gun pointing at you is not just the threat, but a thin hair away from murder. All it takes is a whim decision of the robber and that trigger will be pulled. And once you understand how twisted these people are, you will realize exactly how likely that whim really is. That is what makes this so dangerous, a robbery can turn into a homicide in the blink of an eye. That's why trying to 'stall' a would-be robber while looking down the barrel of his gun isn't going to work.

Yet, that's what many people try to do while they frantically search for a 'reasonable' response to this unexpected danger. Unfortunately, criminals are notorious for their inability to handle anger and frustration. Therefore they react negatively to any action on your part that they interpret as you trying to stall or resist.

Other Priorities Will Get You Attacked
People often misunderstand what we are talking about when we say that violence is a very Zen experience. It is neither airy fairy, nor is it mindless. It is however, very much a "here and now" situation.

And if you want to get out without being hurt, you need to be in the hear and now ... not inside your own head and emotions. These are the other 'priorities' we mentioned earlier.

It is those 'other' priorities that combine to form the number one reason people end up in violent and dangerous situations. The problem is that often those other priorities are daily and routine. We've made the exact same decision hundreds, if not thousands of times before. Except this time they blow up in our faces. Under the right circumstances, all it takes is a flash of pride, anger, ego or stubbornness to catapult you into a situation beyond your control. And the damage you suffer from the resulting violence will last a life time -- on one level or another.

What we really wish to stress is that it isn't making a routine decision that is the problem, it's making a routine decision in exceptional circumstances. In these circumstances routine decisions are not only inappropriate, but they actively put you into more danger. On the carjacking page you will find this quote "I don't want to encourage paranoia, but I do want to encourage you to think, perhaps even "outside the box." And I can think of no more confining or dangerous a box than the one whose sides are made of: "It can't happen here" and whose lid consists of: "It can't/won't happen to me."

It is that metaphorical box, that can not only guide your decisions, but blind you to the fact that you are not in normal circumstances. It is these decisions -- that while they seem simple enough -- step by step bring you further into circumstances where you will suddenly and unexpectedly find yourself facing "a wall of flame."

Oops.

Everything we've said thus far is true, but it is all rather vague. So let's give you a concrete example of routine decisions and circumstances turning ugly. Walking to your car in the parking lot is normal. Another situation that is normal is passing unsavory characters while they are on their way somewhere. Unless these individuals are engaged in particularly obnoxious behavior, the routine protocol is for everyone to ignore each other and continue on their way. But here is another routine decision that we need to consider. How do you deal with a rude busboy or say janitor or warehouse work on the job? There are certain assumptions that we have about how to deal with people who's behavior we find unacceptable -- especially people who we consider in "lesser positions." In these circumstances, however, there is the assumption that the person wants to keep his job. If this is true it makes them somewhat manageable.

However, all of these 'normal' decisions and activities can go sideways on you, if you walk into a parking lot and see three unsavory looking guys spaced apart and leaning against the wall watching you. These are not "normal" circumstances therefore, your normal assumptions and decisions aren't appropriate. The decisions of "They'll leave me alone" and continuing to walk to your car are ... to put it mildly ... bad ones. At least in those particular circumstances.

Do you see how small routine decisions can result in you facing a wall of flame?

Violence is an extreme situation. And by definition, the normal rules do not apply in an extreme situation. The normal priorities you live your life by don't apply. The trick is to recognize when you are in a "danger zone" so you know when those standards by which you normally operate are not applicable. In other words, it's knowing when it is time to shift mental gears. In order to be safe, you must temporarily assign a higher priority to other issues. Hurt feelings, wounded pride, threatened self-esteem seem very important until you find yourself looking down the barrel of a gun, raped or beaten bloody.

But if you have never encountered the horrors of violence (and more specifically how fast it can happen when the circumstances are 'right') odds are against you recognizing the danger signals. And without knowing these obvious and easy-to-learn signs, the chances are good that you will continue to operate in your normal fashion. And why shouldn't you? If you don't know you are in danger, why change your behavior?

Well a wall of flame comes to mind...

Often when we talk about crime/violence avoidance competent people tend to bristle. After all they successfully function in all kinds of circumstances including certain types of conflict. Who are we to suggest that they can't handle themselves?

This is perhaps the most dangerous "box" you can put yourself into. Let me put "why" this is into perspective. There is an example I use during my Lunch Time Lectures where I select someone from the group and ask them "Could I walk into your office and with no training, sit down at your desk -- and not only do your job -- but do it better?"

Obviously the answer is "no." The skills, education, experience, contacts and even knowing where the Xerox machine is these people have regarding their jobs makes it impossible for me to outperform them in their profession. With this in mind, I want you to consider this...

Crime is the criminal's job.

With this in mind, what do you think your chances are of just stepping into "his office" and out-performing him in his chosen profession? This especially in light of the fact that he has set everything up to his advantage? Take this analogy and run with it in your profession. For example, if you're in sales, he's got everything set up and about to close the sale. And you expect to be able to walk in on a cold call and get the contract? Are there other professionals in "his field" who can out perform him? You betcha. But you aren't that professional. You have your field of expertise, they have theirs.

It is here that you prove your competence by not playing at all! Instead of trying to beat a "stacked deck" you recognize a crooked game and walk away! Forget about walking into an ambush and -- suddenly dropping your groceries and metamorphosing into Captain Karate -- to defeat three thugs. (While we're at it, forget about intimidating them with anger and outrage ... they don't care and they probably have weapons to show you how much they don't care). You ensure your personal safety by recognizing the danger signals of the three thugs loitering in the parking lot, turning around and getting security. You're not a profession in controlling criminals, so call someone who is.

What you don't do is put yourself into a situation where you're trying to out perform a professional in his field.

In light of that reality, the idea of taking effective, non-violent measures to prevent yourself from looking down the barrel in the first place make much more sense -- and are far less appalling than the alternative. Yes avoidance might require you to occasionally change your plans, wait a bit or ask for help, but those options are still far better than the alternative.


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Escape Combatives
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