Predators need proximity to attack their victims. They generally gain proximity through two basic methods: surprise and ambush or charm. Using their charm and manipulation, predators often test and then violate boundaries.
By definition, every criminal attack is a boundary violation. Sexual assault, stalking, rape, intimidation, and other attacks are all boundary violations. We have physical boundaries. We also have mental and emotional comfort zones.
Not every boundary violation is a crime, but criminal attacks often start with gradually increasing boundary violations. Aggressors often test potential victims to find out whether and how they set, enforce, and protect their boundaries and where they are vulnerable.
In addition to, or combined with, boundary testing criminals often employ manipulation and control techniques based on the target’s personality traits such as kindness, credulity, eagerness to please, or cravings for acceptance. When criminals test a potential victim’s boundaries verbally, we sometimes call this process criminal interviewing. This is one interview that you want to fail.
Self-defense begins with risk awareness, reduction, recognition, and avoidance. Effective risk management includes setting, protecting, and enforcing your boundaries.
Boundary setting isn’t only important for violence prevention against criminal predators. Self-care in every day life also includes setting and enforcing healthy boundaries at home, at work, with friends, and with acquaintances throughout your day.
My next post will make some suggestions for recognizing boundary violations that may begin with subtle encroachments, at times disguised as flattery and admiration.