Self-awareness and Hardening Yourself as a Target

No smile

Physical, mental, and emotional self-awareness are crucial components of self-defense. Many predators are very adept at assessing people’s vulnerabilities and needs. Hardening yourself as a target starts with an honest, objective self-assessment.

Your personality

Personality can be described as habitual characteristics of behavior, temperament, and emotions. Think about what you project about yourself to others. How do others generally perceive you? Do you come across as assertive? Shy? Demure? Compliant? Quiet? Cooperative? Trusting? Suspicious? Domineering? Strong-willed? Weak? Insecure? What personality traits make you a soft or a hard target? Are you easily flattered, impressed, or otherwise influenced by other people? Which type of people or under what circumstances?

Your current mood and constitution

Predators are also generally attuned to their targets’ vulnerabilities due to their current moods and physical constitutions. When you are lonely or sad, for example after a recent loss or break-up, you may be more susceptible to someone’s charm, manipulation, or faked solicitude than when you are physically and emotionally healthy and strong. The serial killer Ted Bundy was a master at tuning into his victims’ physical and emotional conditions. For example, one of his victims had just broken up with her boyfriend. Another one was preoccupied with exams.

Your passions – how people connect with you

Also think about your passions. Do people use your social, political, recreational or other interests to attempt to manipulate you? Predators sometimes fake shared interests to gain their targets’ trust and make them let down their guard. Obviously, most people enjoy social interaction with others who share their interests. A lot of us do. But be careful when new acquaintances try to use your passion to force trust or to manipulate you into doing things you wouldn’t do otherwise.

Your current focus

Make a habit of asking yourself, where is my focus? For instance, as you are running in the early morning hours with few people on the trails and your thoughts wander to your work or kids, train yourself to return your focus to your surroundings.

Throughout the day, whether we are driving on a freeway, walking down a city sidewalk, or enjoying our morning run, our thoughts digress. For instance, you may be worrying about an exam, a presentation at work, or your sick dog. You may be fatigued or worn out by a nasty cold. You may be upset about an argument with your spouse or a friend. Pre-occupation with thoughts about the past or the future often diverts our attention from our environment. Thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations, for instance pain from a sore throat, can all distract us from sensing and processing signals from the world around us. One way to harness your situational and environmental awareness is to make it a habit to refocus on the present moment.

At a seminar at the annual Martial Arts Industries Association  conference in 2014, a presenter suggested that we should ask ourselves periodically, “Where am I? What am I doing? What should I pay attention to right now?” This is good advice for business; it’s also a good habit for safety. It’s so easy to tune out as we are driving or walking or doing anything else throughout the day. This simple series of questions can bring us back to the here and now. And that is where we need to be so that situational awareness can protect us against ambush as well as accidents.

Awareness of your physical self: gait, posture, and demeanor

Mental and emotional self-awareness is your first step to hardening yourself as a target of opportunistic predatory violence. Another crucial step is physical self-awareness.

Researchers Betty Grayson and Morris Stein conducted a classic study on victim selection with prison inmates convicted of violent crimes like armed robbery, rape, and murder. They showed the inmates videos of pedestrians walking down a busy New York City sidewalk and asked them to identify people they would pick as targets. The criminals’ answers were remarkably uniform even though they couldn’t articulate their criteria. Analysis of the videotapes showed that the inmates’ victim selections were based on perceived vulnerability and lack of environmental awareness rather than other criteria like size or gender.

The preferred victims’ postures, gait, body language, and general demeanor were similar in that they signaled timidity and weakness. For instance, their posture was slumped and their gait lacked “synchrony” or fluidity and wholeness. Shuffling, a short or awkward stride, and a general lack of athleticism and of awareness were seen as signs of vulnerability and weakness. The Stein/Grayson study suggests that people demonstrating environmental and situational awareness and athletic, fluid body movements are less likely to be targeted.

You can project more assertive body language by practicing these postures and movements:

  • Roll your shoulders back and straighten them.
  • Lift your chin.
  • Look around you with a relaxed demeanor, rather than looking down.
  • Walk with a comfortable, fluid stride.
  • Keep your hands out of your pockets and unencumbered.
  • Engage in physical activity that you enjoy and that helps you become comfortable with you body and with movement.

Awareness of your voice and how it’s perceived by others 

Our voices also communicate assertiveness as well as insecurity and vulnerability. You can train yourself to sound more assertive. Start by becoming aware of the tone of your voice, and its rate, pitch, and inflection. Work on developing a calm and confident tone. Talk with a moderate rate, not too fast and not too slowly. Listen to the pitch of your voice. Practice for a moderate pitch, neither too high not too low. When we are suddenly afraid and the autonomous nervous system activates a sympathetic nervous system response, our voice changes and becomes high pitched, raspy, and fast. We can counter this effect by slow breathing: breathing in slowly, holding our breath for a second, breathing out even more slowly, and then repeating the sequence. Slow breathing can calm us physically as well as mentally.

It’s especially important to note the inflections at the end of your sentences. If you raise your voice at the end of a sentence  you’ll sound unsure. For instance, when you tell someone, “I’m not interested” or “Leave me alone” and raise your voice at the end, you may well be perceived as asking a question or making a plea, rather than giving a command. If your inflection stays at the same level, the voice signals a willingness or invitation to continue interaction. You may also be perceived as being unsure of your intent. When you watch national news with experienced broadcasters, listen to their use of inflection. As long as someone’s presentation is continuing, they’ll also continue with the same inflection. At the end of their statement, they will lower their voice. Practice lowering your voice at the end of the sentence when you give a direction, and you’ll instantly sound more assertive.

Good self-awareness is a great way to start hardening yourself as a potential target.

 

 


Domestic Violence – Self-Care

Orchids

Domestic Violence Awareness Month began with the first Day of Unity observed in October 1981 by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Read more…


Domestic Violence – Wearing Purple isn’t Enough

Purple

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. But awareness or wearing the color purple isn’t enough; it’s only a start. Inform yourself, get involved, become part of the movement to make lives better.

Here are some events this week:
Bozeman, October 8th, Taste of HAVEN
Dillon, October 8, Dillon Women’s Resource Center Women’s Symposium

What is domestic violence? What do you associate with the term domestic violence?

Domestic violence can be described as the systematic use of physical, emotional, mental, economic, and/or sexual abuse tactics to gain and maintain power and control in an intimate relationship.

Abusive partners often isolates their partners from friends, family, acquaintances, co-workers and others. Isolation is one factor to watch for.

If you are interested in learning about how to help someone in an abusive relationship, contact your state domestic violence coalition. They may have resources for you or refer you to your local organizations.

Here are some resources:

Montana Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence

National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence

National Network to End Domestic Violence

National Sexual Violence Resource Center

National Overseas Domestic Violence Crisis Center

 

 


Human Trafficking Resources

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Human Trafficking Resources

Montana Department of Justice

Montana Code Annotated 2015 on Human Trafficking 

National Human Trafficking Resource Center  Tel 1.888.373.7888

Survivors’ Guide to Leaving

Polaris Project

Online Training for Educators 

Human Trafficking in US Schools  (a resource for educators from the US Department of Education)

National Educators to Stop Trafficking (NEST)

Trafficking Resources for Law Enforcement

TIPS Report 2015

Human Trafficking Search Net

Shared Hope 

Not For Sale 

Trafficking Indicators

2014 Mansfield Conference Resources

National Domestic Violence Hotline, 24 hour Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

Montana Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence 

National Sexual Assault Hotline,  RAINN, 24 hour Hotline: 1-800-656-4673

Dating Violence National Dating Abuse Helpline, 24 hour Hotline: 1-866-331-9474

Love is Respect

Runaway and Homeless Youth National Runaway Safeline, 24 hour Hotline: 1-800-RUNAWAY (786-2929)

Missing Children and Child Pornography National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, 24 hour Hotline: 1-800-THE-LOST (843-5678)

Suicide National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 24 hour Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Montana Anti-Trafficking Project


The Hunting Ground

HuntingGround500

The movie The Hunting Ground is a powerful, disturbing new movie by the Academy Award nominated producers of the Invisible War.

It tells the story of sexual assaults on campuses across the US, the role of big business university athletics,  and institutional cover-ups.

It also highlights the pain and courage of the survivors who stood up to their universities and tried to hold them accountable.

The response of the universities was outrages. No meaningful follow-up; no accountability.  The film ends with the admonition to students, parents, and faculty to hold their universities accountable.

If we do nothing, these rapes and sexual assaults will continue. College athletics is big business. Athletes are prized assets for these universities. Students who were raped or  sexually assaulted apparently are dispensable.

What will you do? Contact your board of trustees at your university? Contact the board of regents? Contact your alumni associations? Support your university or local or state anti-violence associations? Learn more about holding your universities accountable?Here are some resources:  

The Hunting Ground

Montana Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence

National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence

National Sexual Violence Resource Center

End Rape on Campus

Culture of Respect

Know your IX

RAINN: Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network

NO MORE

Alumniunited.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Don’t Ignore Violence Next Door

Niagara Falls

The recent bombings at the Boston Marathon and last year’s elementary school shooting in Connecticut have captured people’s attention. The media have inundated us with coverage about these horrendous acts of violence. People are outraged, to the extent that no-one wanted to provide a grave site for the dead Boston bomber.

Yet another type of violent criminal that lives in almost every community often escapes any repercussions or legal responsibility. Many people forget, ignore, or maybe aren’t even aware of  the violence that happens regularly in their neighborhoods. Read more…


Montana Crime Statistics

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April 21 – April 27 is designated  National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. Here are some statistics from the Montana Board of Crime Control for 2012. Keep in mind that these statistics are based only on reported crimes.

37,013 – reported victims of crime in Montana

3,723  – victims of domestic  violence

367 – adult victims of sexual assault

754 – child sexual abuse victims

1,378 – child physical abuse victims

2,912 – elder abuse victims

212 – robbery victims

8,145 – adult victims of assault

Again, these numbers are only for reported victims. Many crimes are never reported.

Regarding women victims, most women are assaulted by non-strangers.

Support victim advocates and organizations providing help to crime victims.

Learn about crime prevention. Advocate for systemic change that fosters violence prevention.

Educate yourself about risk awareness, reduction, recognition, and avoidance. Be aware, prepared, and ready to take action if necessary.

In an imperfect world, the only one whom you can always rely on to be there for you is you yourself.


Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault and Rape

LA

In connection with our R.A.D. Systems Sexual Assault Prevention workshop on February 23 and 24, 2013, we’ll discuss drug and alcohol facilitated sexual assault. The most common “date rape drug” is alcohol. Here is some information from the womenshealth.gov website on Rohypnol, Ketamine, and GHB:

What are date rape drugs?

These are drugs that are sometimes used to assist a sexual assault. Sexual assault is any type of sexual activity that a person does not agree to. It can include touching that is not okay; putting something into the vagina; sexual intercourse; rape; and attempted rape. These drugs are powerful and dangerous. Read more…


Stalking Awareness Month

followed

January is Stalking Awareness month. Stalking is a crime under Montana law and under the law of the every other state in the United States. It is also a crime under federal law. Read more…


Sexual Assault and Rape Defense Courses

Three Rivers Defense offers sexual assault and rape prevention and self-defense courses this fall at our location in Three Forks and at your locations throughout Montana. Read more…