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For 24 years, people have
been trying to kill me!
People who know how!
              Gust Avrakotos
                    Charlie Wilson's War

Someone Trying To Kill You

On this page:
Violence Is About Many Different Things -- And Usually NOT Lethal | Six Possible Outcomes | Why This Is Important Legally My Qualifications

There is a lot of trauma/drama surrounding the issue of violence. Violence is real. Violence is complicated. Violence happens for many reasons and it comes in many different levels and forms. And most of all, it happens.

What violence is not is Armageddon.

However, an attitude that's become prevalent among certain folks is: ANY kind of violence (especially directed at them) IS the end of the world. Lurid tales abound of all the violence they endured. Each and every one is an apocalypse unto itself and how they barely survived years and years of danger.

For the record, I'm currently celebrating my 14th year of not being shot at. It's a new record, I've never gone this long -- in my entire life -- without having someone try to kill me.

As such, I get real tired of people trying to convince everyone that they've had someone try to kill them  just because they've gotten beaten up. In fact, they often try to escalate 'being yelled at and struck once' into a full scale beating. But, forget convincing them that they weren't in mortal danger. It's hard enough just to tell someone the person who attacked them wasn't trying to kill them.

Yet these people are so far into their monkey brains about the subject that it isn't even funny. They were there! They KNOW the person was trying to kill them. The less-than-hysteria-and-agenda-driven truth is, however, that's overwhelmingly NOT the case ... even in cases of extreme abuse. The simple fact is the goal of the overwhelming majority of violence is not to cause death -- or even physical injury. Violence is usually a tool to achieve other ends.

The raw truth if someone HAD tried to kill them then their story would have ended up in some form of the six results that I'm about to explain.

Upon reading this many people will immediately claim that I am trying to dismiss the horrors, trauma and 'abuse' that they suffered.

I'm not.

But unlike the stories these people tend to tell themselves (and others) about 'how someone tried to kill them' ... I actually have had people try to kill me on a regular basis. I also have many more people try to commit different levels of social violence on me. How often? I don't remember it all. Win, lose or draw, violence was just another day in my life -- later another day at work(1).

With this experience I can firmly state: There IS a difference between violence levels.  And if you try to make ALL violence a 'fatal trauma drama' then you are engaging in hyperbole.

This is why when I tell you: When someone is really trying to kill you there are predictable outcomes -- I know what I'm talking about.

Violence Is About Many Different Things And Usually NOT Lethal
According to the Uniform Crime Report in 2007 there were 1,408,337 violent crimes reported to Law Enforcement(2). Of them 16,929 were homicides. That means 1.2 percent of ALL reported violence resulted in someone dying.

Now where I'm from that means, either there's a lot of incompetence out there when it comes to killing people or killing wasn't the goal of the violence.

A common alarmist statement is to bring up another truth. That is: Most violence is NOT reported to the police. This is a commonly accepted fact, but the exact numbers are unknown. This will often be tossed out to imply that we don't really know how many deaths are involved.

Simply stated though this doesn't disprove the point that most violence isn't lethal, it reinforces it. Let's double the number of violent incidents to 2,816,674. Those sixteen thousand deaths become .006 percent. Even if we add a speculative number of 2,000 (missing persons) as homicides to the original number of violent incidents, we get up to roughly 1.3% of the original near million and a half violent incidents.

No matter how you play with them, the numbers simply do NOT prove there is all that much violence dedicated to killing someone. That's because when someone IS trying to kill you there are predictable results.

No matter what your monkey brain tells you about the experience, if any of these six results didn't happen ... the person WASN'T trying to kill you.

The Six Possible Outcomes
The first likely outcome of someone actually trying to kill you is

  • You die.

In which case, we're not having this conversation.

The second possible outcome is

  • You end up in the hospital ... for a long time.

We're not talking walking out after a night in the ER room with just a few stitches and some gauze taped to your body either. We're talking surgery and an extended stay with lots tubes sticking out of you and beeping machines trying to keep you alive. And while triage will keep you among the living, often there are follow up surgeries to fix the long term damage.

The third option is someone -- usually you,

  • Ran away.

There is absolutely no shame what-so-ever involved in this option. Simply stated, it's hard to get shot, stabbed, run over, drowned, beaten to death or thrown off a building if you aren't there!

For the average person, this is, bar-none the best and most effective strategy. In fact, it works better the earlier you do it. Unfortunately, many people wait until it is too late to effectively deploy this strategy.

The fourth option is you

  • Shoot back.

This and the next two options have a really good track record of inducing the run-away response in an attacker. (That's why we said 'someone' runs away).

To explain the last point it helps to understand that with most would-be murderers the plan is 'YOU are the one doing the dying.' They're willing to kill you, but they aren't particularly keen on dying themselves. This is why giving back what they are trying to dish out, is such an effective counter-strategy.

The fifth option is you

  • Retaliate with such ferocity that the other person is injured, killed or runs away.

This is not fighting. This is you are attempting to kill your would-be attacker as well. Even if you do not succeed in actually killing him, the reason he stops is he's taken sufficient damage to render him incapable of continuing. The simple truth is that most would-be murderers do not wait that long. Suddenly facing the same options as you are, death or hospitalization, the would-be killer opts for option two.

The sixth option is

  • Someone else intervenes.

This intervention results in some combination of 1-5.

While it is easy -- and dramatic -- to claim that someone has tried to kill you, if these six, or any combo there of, weren't the results then that person wasn't trying to kill you.

We say this no matter

  • What your emotional brain tells you.
  • What someone claims or
  • What a fear monger tries to convince you.

As a caveat on all of this. It is extremely common that someone engages in life-threatening behaviors, such as a brandishing a weapon or beating someone severely. But the simple fact is that the person is NOT trying to kill you. It is common for someone to do something that can cause extreme harm, but NOT with the intention to kill. This is especially true with threat displays.

A good way to tell the difference is the number of times a behavior is repeated. A negligent discharge of a firearm is different than someone aiming the gun AT you and pulling the trigger repeatedly. With the second, sooner or later, it's going to change from being shot at to being shot. And if the person means to kill you, odds are you will be shot more than once.

People intending to kill you usually don't stop until
   a) they've succeeded,
   b) they believe they have succeeded or
   c) the danger to them becomes too great to continue.

Why This Is Important Legally
A big part of the reason we wrote this page is because many people have tried to redefine 'self-defense' to mean anything they want it to mean.

There's a lot of hyperbole, trauma drama and sensationalism surrounding violence. While it's common among people who were abused and have been in dangerous situations, it is especially true among people who are selling what they claim to be is THE solution to violence. People who make a huge strum und drang about the horrors of violence tend to act as if every violent situation is a matter of life or death.

That simply isn't true.

Stepping back from the hysteria, there is a lot of money being poured into and being made promoting psuedo-answers to violence. Whether this is idealistic crusades to change society or training in some ultimate fighting system, what most of them are about is making money, NOT providing you with practical solutions to the problems they claim to address. But to make that money, you're monkey brain must be convinced it's in mortal danger.

And quite frankly, accepting this propaganda and advertising as THE TRUTH about violence is the fastest way I know to get put into prison, hospitalized or dead.


Let's start with the fact that self-defense is a LEGALLY defined term. And it is THOSE standards your actions will be judged by. NOT by what you thought you were doing when you chased the person down the street, or kept shooting when he was no longer a threat or trying to flee.

IF you believe ANY violence coming at you as the arrival of Armageddon, you are going to over react. It doesn't matter if you're an abuse survivor, a wanna-be knife fighter, studying some deadly martial art, combative system,  a reality based self defense system or are contemplating getting a gun for personal protection.

And you WILL end up in county jail, prison, in the hospital or morgue if you use those flawed redefinitions to 'defend yourself.'

You cannot unleash lethal force against someone who isn't actually offering you 'the immediate danger of death or grievous bodily injury.' NO MATTER WHAT YOUR MONKEY BRAIN THINKS!

Many people are afraid they will go to jail for defending themselves. And if you let your monkey brain drive the bus, then that is true. You will. This is why you have to think about the subject BEFORE you find yourself in a situation. And you have to use knowledge, information and facts guide your training decisions ... NOT your imagination.

Simply stated the reality based self-defense/ Women's self defense/Mixed Martial Arts/ Military Combatives market are based on both an emotional AND profitable redefinition of the term self-defense. In fact, most of what is being promoted out there is marketing that exploits your fears, anger, fantasies and self-esteem issues. You may think you're smart enough to spot when you are being manipulated, but that is the first step in being manipulated by your fears and insecurities.

Violence IS real and it is a complex subject. There is no simplistic, one-stop-shopping solution that will provide you with all your 'self-defense needs.' But once you understand that, instead of being overwhelmed (or believing that you've taken care of every possibility by learning an ultimate fighting style) you can get control back.

If you do an honest assessment of your lifestyle, you can get a better idea of what kind of dangers you are most likely to face. Once you do that, you can focus on addressing issues relevant to those circumstances. Don't worry about covering EVERY possibility, that's too big.

As we often say. Train for what happens most and you'll be able to handle most of what happens.

Return to top

1) Oh BTW, when I say I've had people try to kill me, I'm not just talking about people who were intent on causing my death, but that some of these people who knew how.  In fact, I can pretty well guarantee you, unless you've done extended combat tours in a war zone, odds are I've had more people actually try to kill me than you have.
On this page, I'm also speaking from personal experience, a lot of research, observation, correlating data from others who have 'been there, done that.' I'm also basing this information on entirely too many incidents of taking people to the emergency room. When it comes to the results of actually having someone try to kill you, I will match any one research to research on this subject. Return to Text

2) What is violent crime? From the FBI Webpage: In the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, violent crime is composed of four offenses: murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Violent crimes are defined in the UCR Program as those offenses which involve force or threat of force. Return to Text

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