In any situation , the best self defence strategy is to avoid the clash.
Then it is necessary to quickly move away from the danger of a potential attacker: in this sense the escape is the main defensive action to be put in place ( before a possible aggression, during a possible aggression, after the possible aggression).
The main way to prevent aggression is to be alert : aware of yourself, of the place where you are, of people around you. It is not about always being fearful, but to be careful, just like you do when you cross a busy street or cash out at the ATM.
A way to train to be present and careful is to notice:
- Level of lighting of streets or indoor environments
- Deserted roads
- People clustered without apparent reason
- Location of bus stops or public places
- Attitude of people in the premises
- Objects that can be used for defensive purposes (urticant spray and activation of the alarm on the App, etc…)
- Objects that can act as an obstacle between us and a potential aggressor (ex. car, …)
Trivial and intuitive arrangements can ultimately help to avoid dangerous situations:
- Change side of the road or sidewalk if you see someone potentially dangerous
- If the sidewalk is very dark walk past the parked cars, stretching the road ( as long as physical safety is not endangered obviously) so to be visible to the passing cars, avoiding being hidden and hardly rescued
- Always make sure you do not have someone behind or near you as when approaching the front door, before looking for the keys to enter.
Make yourself a tough target drastically lowers the risk of being attacked.
A tough target stands out for: calm attitude, steady deportment, firm walk, loud voice, high and direct look beyond the potential aggressor (like looking for someone: you should avoid low eyes or the direct challenging look).
It can be very useful, as already mentioned, to always bring with you an object or instrument that can, in extreme cases, be used to defend yourself: an urticant spray or the mobile to activate the alarm present in the App, they can be valid allies in case of danger.
With words you can do a lot to prevent dangerous situations.
In this sense our App offers useful tools, usable in a simple and intuitive way ( it is important to remember , however, to keep it open in potentially hazardous situations!) In particular:
- In situations where there is a potential danger of approaching one or more suspect people, it may be useful to speak or pretend to talk on the phone with your interlocutor. In this way the potential aggressor has the perception that there is someone who can see in real time an aggression and alert the police.
- If you think you are in danger or in an emergency situation, do not hesitate to telephone the emergency call by using the 112 ( unique number across Europe): better a false alarm than a delay in signalling the ongoing danger.
- If it is not possible to call vocally , alert someone trusted with a SMS, preferably indicating where you are ( it would be useful to create an SMS template on your mobile phone to use it quickly in case of danger).
- In areas or situations at risk, do not respond to those who approach and turn to us ( for example, ask the time or an indication on a map could be a technique to distract us, to deceive us, to lure us..).
- Discard verbally at safety distance ( twice the arm length) if someone approaches threatening or approaches anyway after we have explicitly warned them not to do so. You need to maintain a calm, secure, decisive voice, low tone, palm of your hand forward and say: “Stay away” or “Stay back”. In the extreme case it is useful to make a distracting question ( “ But are not you Marco’s friend?”) or a very strong statement (“ I have a weapon!”) or generate a loud and sudden sound ( through our App or by using special tools on the market) for the sole purpose of expelling the aggressor for a few seconds and acting immediately afterwards ( hitting him, if necessary, or escaping). It can be very useful to shout “Fire! Fire!”: it has been shown that such a request for help of this kind attracts the intervention of passers-by or people far more than generic shouts or calls.
Do not make provocative gestures and do not invade the space of the potential aggressor. Do not throw verbal challenges and do not offend: you must avoid any form of provocation.
When fear is felt strong, try to keep an emotional control over it.
Here are some suggestions to control the natural instinct of fear:
- Control your breath: inhale by expanding the abdomen and exhaling slowly
- Repeat mentally “I will not be your prey” or “I’m not a victim”
- Remember that the physical feelings that you experience ( trembling, sweating,…) result from instinctive reactions that make you stronger and more ready to escape or counterattack
- If you are close to the clash ( only in this case), fix the opponent in the eyes or at the base of the nose.
Especially when we do routine activities, repetitive and predictable for an aggressor ( get out soon to go to work, return late in the evening, get out on Saturday night, etc…) or in which we frequent isolated places at the same time, we must be alert.
We are more vulnerable when we lower our guard because we feel at ease ( as it is a daily activity) or we feel tired.
By car in the city it is best to travel with the safety catch lowered and the closed windows. Don’t give and do not accept lifts.
By train or by ship or ferry avoid empty compartments or unattended or hidden areas.
You should avoid wearing headphones , diving into reading or watching videos, distracting yourself with the smart phone or tablet if you are alone in public places or in potentially dangerous situations.
We do not have to find ourselves in the state of being limited in the ability to capture external environment signals in potentially dangerous situations.
Take care of your own physical, maintain good aerobic capacity ( running, biking, swimming, etc..) and stay elastic ( stretching, yoga, pilates, etc….) can save us from situations of real danger. It is not about becoming sporty , but maintaining a minimum level of physical reactivity that allows an escape or allows precise and controlled movements.
To maximize serenity and ease in situations where you are alone in unfrequented public places but also, vice versa, in situations with great influx of people ( concerts, events etc..), getting information and understanding well where you are can be precious : for example , identify safety exits, escape routes, know emergency numbers ( perhaps if you are abroad) and be able to call security personnel in case of danger.