The Pyramid of Personal Safety

The Great Pyramid

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. You won't have stopped the criminal from being a criminal, but you will have stopped him from choosing you as a victim.
With this in mind, 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. Such a fragmented approach requires excessive work, inconvenience and, often, drastically altering your lifestyle. 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 violence 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 stay safe. 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 criminal and violent people think* and what they need to succeed . 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 do around your home or business 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 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, Home security walk-aways are your first line of defense.
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, 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.
Awareness is born of a blend of habits and knowledge. One part would be knowing where a mugger 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 go back - 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 that your car gets wrecked and you get hurt.
Maneuvering and Positioning concern 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 exceedingly poor. 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. There is no term that describes this game. At its core, it is a complex set of maneuvers that have a very real and dangerous intent, but that are done in such a way that not only disguise their real intent, but allow for deniability if countered. Embassies are prime examples of this game. On the surface, they are for diplomatic relations, commerce, and to assist their nationals traveling between countries. However, integral to their mission is espionage, both its commission and prevention. So while everyone from the ambassador to the lowest secretary is either doing it, or has been trained to prevent it, nobody talks about it, or, admits it is happening.
Criminals trying to set you up for a robbery are most often engaged in this sort of game. If they display their intentions too early, their prey will either elude them or 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, you nonviolently protect yourself from crime and violence. An experienced player will immediately recognize when someone is playing the game back at him. This serves as a deterrent with both criminals and people who use violence to get what they want. The reason is simple, someone who is good enough to know how to play the game, is someone who not only knows what is really happening, but also the kind who can offer a serious counter threat. Those skills and aspects he normally relies on to keep him safe are not working here. He's up against someone just as good, if not better. And if he pushes it, it would be anybody's guess as to who will be the one walking away alive and intact. As such, it is in his best interest to withdraw or, if in a closed situation, negotiate.

Knowledge of Self-worth and Boundaries 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. However, it is important to realize that now, no matter what your decision about using physical self-defense to protect yourself, you have come to a crossroads. When we use the terms knowledge of self-worth and boundaries, we also are including knowing how you think and how you are coming across.
Self-worth 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 importantly, 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 insult him or invade his space! 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 without violence. You cannot hide behind avowed pacifism while still being verbally violent.
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 protect yourself.
This is not threatening nor blustering; it is a clear cut message for him to get 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 in violence in order to defend themselves, others have no such qualms. Either choice carries responsibilities. Physical self-defense is not about fighting, it's about not being hurt by violence. Nor is it about being fearless. It is doing what you have to do to keep from being hurt, raped, robbed or killed.

*These are just a few of the points that you need to know about the psychological make up of criminals and violent people.
* Extreme egomania/selfishness/me-based orientation.
* Poor impulse control.
* Manipulative behavior.
* Inability to accurately read other people's emotions.
* Little or no ability to delay gratification.
* Disassociation from the negative effects of their actions/guilt.
* Your value is defined by what you can do for them.
* The only consistent in their behavior is what benefits/pleases them.
You cannot change these elements in their personality; and, without outside, long-term professional help and counseling, they are not going to change on their own. No matter how much they say they will.