Last week we introduced our new columnist, self-defense expert Nick Hughes, who each week will share strategies not only for defense in an attack, but for avoidance of an attack altogether. A local business owner, martial arts instructor and author of the book, How to be Your Own Bodyguard, Nick has worked in personal protection and security for about 40 years, including work as a bodyguard, a bouncer, a combat instructor and a member of the French Foreign Legion. Read his full bio on our team page.
Last week we started to break down the acronym “S.I.V.A.,” which we learned stands for “Selection,” “Isolation,” “Verbal,” and “Attack” – the four phases of a typical attack. And in our last column, we covered the “S” – victim selection.
This week’s column is devoted to “I” – isolation. Whether you’re leaving the mall and heading out into the parking lot, leaving a nightclub to head home or leaving work late at night, it’s all the same thing: You are leaving the safety of numbers and therefore increasing your chances of becoming a victim.
The first thing to know is that even before you leave a crowd, you may already be selected as a victim. Wildlife predators will loiter around waterholes before spooking the herd (because every potential victim has gathered there), and human predators do the same. Our equivalent to the watering hole is the mall or the city. Lots of victims abound and the criminal has plenty of opportunity to choose one and then follow him or her out into the parking lot or away from the crowd.
The same is true of nightclubs and university campuses. In the former we’ll often see spates of muggings because the victims are drunk, and in the latter the crime of rape is fairly prevalent.
In any event, and whether you’re male or female, you must become hyper vigilant when you leave the safety of numbers. Too many victims drop their guards and begin to think about what they bought, where they parked the car, how bad traffic will be, how much they just spent, etc. They get to the car and waste time balancing check books, loading up parcels, checking their makeup and making phone calls.
Each of these activities gives the criminal all the time in the world to get close enough to launch an attack – and at that point you’re trying to regain the initiative which is never easy.
So here are some non-negotiables, when thinking about safety:
- Leave the phone calls and the check books and everything else until you arrive at your next safe haven.
- Pay attention to your surroundings.
- Use reflections in windows to see if someone is following you.
- Take a circuitous route to your vehicle which will expose anyone on your tail, don’t be afraid to stop and look around.
- If you’re at the mall or work and you do think someone is acting suspiciously go back and get a security guard and have him walk with you.
The sole exception to the criminal who prefers no crowds is the pickpocket who needs them to pull off his gambit. We’ll cover how to thwart them in a future column. In the meantime, avoid being selected as a victim, and do not let yourself get isolated from the crowd. Keep the ideas in this column in mind and remain vigilant.
Next week we’ll cover the next SIVA phase, “Verbal,” which is the criminal’s “interview” of a potential victim. Well discuss what to say – and what NOT to say – to avoid being chosen.