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The Awareness Advantage

Top of the morning to you! My name is Marco and in approximately 2 minutes I am going to put a knife to your throat and shove you in my trunk. I will take you to some undisclosed area and likely tie you up. What happens after that is X-rated and I’m not sure how angry I will become and just what I will do to you, but I can assure you that you will be changed forever (if you live). So… what do you think? Are you interested?

This article is going to focus on the steps to avoid the above scenario becoming a reality by being attacked by a predator. I will discuss Situational Awareness, body language, intuition, verbal commands, and learning to keep your personal distance from any stranger.  You already know from past articles that predators target weak and distracted looking individuals, so don’t play the part of a target.

Remember the last article, Predators Amongst Us? Predators are all around us and they look just like you and me. A sad but true story to hammer my message home on people not being who they seem just happened in my hometown when my former high school was burned to the point of being unusable for classes the rest of the year. The suspect in custody is the school’s new Principal! That’s right, the best man for the job, beat all the other candidates for “Mr. Perfect Principal”, wasn’t as perfect as he seemed.

The three criteria where the criminal decides whether or not he can get away with attacking you are 1) how you look, 2) how close he can get to you and 3) whether or not you are polite when answering his “testing question.” This is known as the interview, and it is his way to double check if you are safe for him to attack. He may have the intent to attack, but if he doesn’t have the opportunity or positioning close enough to you, then he cannot succeed. He fears failure, so if he can’t succeed, he’ll likely not even try.

Criminals do not make appointments and do not telegraph that they are about to commit a crime. The tendency to be a “chameleon” is a huge advantage to them. They are about to do something vicious, and they know their own life is at stake for what they are about to do if the target fights back. Your first step to not be a victim is the mindset to not be a victim, no matter what it takes and starts with being aware of your surroundings.

Situational Awareness is the foundation of personal security and is an amazing tool for you because it focuses on conflict avoidance. The “best” fight is the one you’re never in! You must have an awareness of all the people and objects in your surroundings. You must learn to watch eyes, hands and pick out anything unusual. Be ready to change your line of walking at any time to avoid a possible encounter and look ahead to where you are headed and glance behind you when leaving a store. If you look ahead and see a group of men walking toward you, cross the street. When you leave the grocery store and “Mr. Creep of the Year” is right on your tracks, you should turn around and go back into the store. Have someone escort you to your car if you are uncertain at all, no matter what your “I’m tough and proud attitude” says.

Another great practice is to play the “What If?” game. If a scenario unfolded in any area or building you are in, where would you go and what would you do? Are you sitting in a seat facing the primary entrance and do you notice people when they walk in? Where could you find cover, safety, or extra exits if you needed to?

Your body language really sets you up to be or not be a target. Some experts claim that body language is 90% of all communication and you can use this to your advantage if you pay attention to it. Humans are a lot like animals and we do the same thing as a lion will do before an attack. Beware if someone constantly stares at you without blinking or turning away and squints their eyes. Clenching the jaw, and clenching and unclenching fists is another sign right before an attack.

How do you adjust your body language to dissuade a predator? Multiple studies show that a purposeful walk sends subconscious signals to the predators that you are not an easy mark. It is imperative that you stand tall and walk with your head up scanning around. If you see someone that makes you nervous, send a stern gaze their way because this notifies them that you are very aware.

In 1984 a study, known as “The Grayson/Stein Study”, was conducted by showing criminals a video of people walking. The criminals were asked to pick out their targets and, coincidentally, they all marked their targets in less than seven seconds and almost always picked the same people. Who did they pick and why? They picked both men and women, and what all their victims had in common was slow walking with their heads down and distracted. Distraction is defined in Webster’s Dictionary as insane and mental confusion. Alert, on the other hand, is defined as watchful, intelligent, and on the lookout for danger or opportunity. Hmm, your pick:  Alert or distracted?

Intuition can be your friend and it is quick and insightful. Put manners aside and listen to this gift. Science has discovered that humans are made up of 0.00001 percent that is physical and the other 99.99999 percent is a form of energy. This is the reason you can feel that something isn’t right inside when a certain person approaches. Do you think you are picking up on their negative energy? Absolutely! Listen to your gut and learn to trust it.

Your personal space is a critical thing to keep in mind. Distance from any stranger is a safety buffer, and if they start to get too close (where alarms are going off in your head) put your hands up and out so it looks like you mean business. You must have enough command presence to stop a possible attack! Tell them “Stop! Don’t come any closer!” If the person insists on coming closer after you have warned him away, he has clearly announced that his intentions are not good and that you need to be ready to employ your self-defense skills if you are unable to escape.

Words have power, but they only have power as long as someone is listening. Once a person decides not to listen, words lose their power. At that moment, there had better be something else up your sleeve or a backup plan. Don’t forget you are talking to someone who could be on drugs and/or alcohol and speaking to someone chemically altered may be futile. In the use of force continuum, you are justified taking it up to the next level when a suspect has failed to respond to your command presence. He’s decided to ignore you, and now you have to work twice as hard to convince him that his behavior is unacceptable.

If you have the bad luck to encounter a violent criminal, odds are it won’t be in a safe location. Unfortunately, it will be like looking into the eyes of a charging bear in his natural habitat. You aren’t bear bait! You have a practical understanding of a predator and how they work. You’re mentally and physically prepared and have the skills and tools for doing whatever it takes to stop the attack. You must be prepared to meet violence with violence and have enough stopping power to thwart the predator’s plan. The more compliant you are, the more contempt a predator will have for you, so being submissive is not an option for you.

Some great advice from a friend and mentor, Frank Sharpe, Jr, of Fortress Defense Consultants is this:  Don’t go to stupid places with stupid people and do stupid things! What places are considered high risk, other than alleys and dark corner bars? All high-risk areas are called “Fringe areas,” and are ATM locations, public bathrooms, stairwells, parking lots, and sidewalks. People are around, but out of range for immediate help should a problem arise. Another dangerous place is a bedroom of a crowded college house party and many women have found this out the hard way.

Your life is your dream and don’t let anyone turn it into a nightmare. Be prepared and ready for the good, as well as the bad, in life. The emotional trauma you sustain from an attack will weigh heavy on your heart and soul although thwarting the attack will make it infinitely easier to live with for the rest of your life. You are worth fighting for!

And to answer Marco’s question… Although I appear as a small woman that doesn’t seem to know how to fight because my jeans are too tight and my pumps are too high, let me tell you a secret: I saw you coming and I can tell you are up to no good, especially after I told you to “back off”.  I have my hand on my Kahr in my appendix carry holster under my shirt and my other hand on my Inferno pepper spray. Oh, and I’ve been taking Krav Maga lessons for a year. I’m ready to stop you, and I’m going to fight like my life depends on it, because it does!

About Beth Warford

Profile photo of Beth Warford
A native of Dickinson, Beth is the founder and owner of Pretty Loaded. She graduated with honors from the University of Mary with a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing. She has had specialized ICU and Sedation experience in numerous Children’s Hospitals which has given her extensive experience performing under life and death moment stress. Beth has had 18 years of concealed carry experience, and has been thankful for that opportunity, especially working off hours and in less than safe conditions as a young nurse. She is married and has 4 wonderful young girls, lives on a farm, and is CFO for a local health care practice owned by her husband. Beth has had significant firearms training with an NRA Certified instructor and more specialized defensive training with others. She is also an avid upland game hunter and has a private shooting range for honing her skills. She recently has become a NRA certified instructor in the disciplines of Pistol Instructor and Personal Protection In the Home (first and currently only female certified in this discipline in ND) as well as Affiliate Instructor for the United States Concealed Carry Association, of which she is a member. Additionally, she has had training in the martial art Krav Maga from Master Tomas Reis (www.ndkravmaga.com) which she found very empowering for her own personal protection and defense education. Beth’s inspiration to start Pretty Loaded came from numerous female friends asking Beth to teach them to use a firearm and basic defense mentality. Although she’s a “the glass is half full” kind of person, she believes in the mantra “it’s better to have the skills and not need them than need the skills and not have them” and doesn’t take the safety of she and her family for granted. Beth credits her training from Fortress Defense mentors (www.fortressdefense.com) and NRA Instructor,Bruce, (www.safeshoot.com) as being critical in focusing her vision on the importance of training women specifically. Her husband, being a student of defense, combat, and firearms for 20 years has always been vigilant and supportive of her development as a skilled and empowered woman. Beth feels women need to learn situational awareness, self defense mindset skills, and basic handgun training to be fully well rounded in defensive skills. Her goal is to create Women Warriors to protect themselves and their loved ones from the low life thugs that walk our streets and force their evil upon unwanted victims. Be Safe. Be Empowered. Be Loaded.

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One comment

  1. Profile photo of

    Thanks for a great article. I also enjoyed your interview on the survival podcast a few months back.

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