Welcome to the Campus Safety Initiative
My name is Dr. Carl Welliver of the SELF DEFENSE COMPANY OF GREATER BOSTON. Boston is an educational hub, with some of the finest schools in the country located right here. It because of that reason that I have chosen to create this course. As a self-defense instructor, it is my desire to help the young woman who makes their way to Boston every year to start their college education to keep themselves safe in their new hometown.
The course is taught in eight individual semesters and we will cover all sorts of safety tips and tricks as well as some basic self-defense techniques on the way through. I hope you get some great insight through the study and learn how to keep yourself safe on the streets of our fine city. Welcome to Boston and beyond, as these principles don’t just apply to the Boston neighborhoods.
Semester One – The Foundations of Personal Safety on Campus and Beyond.
The Foundation for The Self Defense Company of Greater Boston Campus Safety Program
This is a crazy world we live in, but for the most part, it is a safe one.
But you just never know when that is going to change in your environment. That is the reason we have developed this program here at the Self Defense Company of Greater Boston (https://SDC-GreaterBoston.com ).
But, in this uncertain world we live in, we all from time to time need to consider our personal safety. It is after all our responsibility to keep ourselves safe. This, of course, means that when we do find ourselves in an aggressive, violent, or dangerous situation, where we are unaware and unsure as to exactly how we arrived at them, and we have few if any, plans, contingencies, or ideas as to how to deal with them.
Now some might suggest that the best solution to deal with this situation would be to learn self-defense so that we would be physically able to deal with such incidents if we were to find ourselves in them. However, this doesn’t prevent us from being in the situations in the first place, and if we were, to be honest with ourselves, that really should be our primary goal. And that all begins with the basics of Situational Awareness. Situational Awareness is a subject that we are going to talk about extensively throughout the course.
As we begin to understand the concept of situational awareness we begin to know that It is always much better alternative to not have to deal with a mugger or a rapist than to have to defend ourselves and fight one off. Now, don’t misunderstand what I am saying. As a self-defense business owner who has invested my time and my money into teaching the best system of self-defense available I do believe that knowing how to physically defend yourself is a good thing. But if we are situationally aware we are better able to predict, prevent, identify, and avoid dangerous situations before they actually happen; this is the true goal of this self-protection and personal safety training.
Going off to college is an exciting point in any young woman’s life. Especially if we are going away to school and leaving home for the first time. When you start looking at college choices the most likely furthest thing from your mind is your personal safety and that is probably one of the last things that you take into consideration, which is of course understandable. When we are faced with decisions about advancing our education, our mind will most likely be on getting into the best school that we can – not the safest.
Of course, that is perfectly understandable, even though your personal safety should be a consideration; many women never take that into consideration, after all, it will never happen to me, right? But the reality of the situation is that one in five women as sexually assaulted while in college and more than 90% of the sexual assaults on college campuses are never reported so that brings the potential percentage up much higher.
The reality of that is that many of the women who are in fact raped or sexually assaulted while in college or university drop out of school. With that fact considered the caliber of the school you attend matters little. Now, with all that being said we need to be a bit more aware of our personal safety. As a matter of fact, your personal safety should be a factor in all life decisions we must make, especially at the younger age of 18 or so years old.
many women who are raped at college or university, end up dropping out, due to the emotional trauma caused by the assault – if you don’t graduate, then the caliber and standing of the institution you attended will matter little. Your personal safety should be a factor in every decision you make, including your choice of college or university.
The Clery Act, named after the Lehigh University freshman Jeanne Clery who was found murdered in her dorm room, her murderer was a fellow student, requires all colleges and universities (that receive federal aid programs) to report crimes that are committed on their campuses. One of the stipulations of the act is that all universities and colleges who receive federal funds should publish and distribute their crime statistics to existing and prospective students. With that information available it is suggested that as you are looking at potential schools that you take the time to look at the Annual Campus Security Report of any institution you are thinking of attending – the university or college should either give you a link to a webpage or similar, or provide you with a paper copy as required by law if you ask for it. On the other hand, please do understand that any institution that does not receive federal aid, is not obliged to provide you with their crime statistics.
It is a common belief that you can make statistics say anything you want, and whilst this is true in some cases, few people are very good at doing this. When they try to adjust statistics to tell a different story, they attempt to adjust them too far. An example of such manipulation might be a school trying to downplay the crime statistics related to alcohol. If the statistics seem extremely low; be wary as it is known that all universities and colleges have issues with drugs and alcohol; that is just a simple truth – if an institution tries to argue this point through the use of statistics that it doesn’t, it is more than likely they are trying to cover up a larger problem.
The Campus Police Department should also conduct itself with a high level of transparency, and not be overly defensive of its statistics – if you, in fact, visit the campus, before deciding whether or not to attend the college or university, visit the campus police department, and ask to see the public log of reported crimes; this log is required, just like in any other police department, to keep a record or crimes reported in the last 60 days. Make a mental note of the types of crimes, and the frequency with which they are reported so that you can compare them to those of the other institutions you are looking to attend to gauge the overall safety of the campus.
This crime log also records the time of day and the location of where each crime is committed, and this information will give you a good idea, as to where it might be a bad idea to walk alone, or where it’s inadvisable to park, or leave your bike, etc. If you have accurate information, you can make better personal safety decisions.
Some institutions, however, will not want to make a big deal about crime & personal safety, believing that in doing so it will only draw the prospective student’s attention towards the safety concerns and possibly discourage them from selecting the institution for their choice. After all the college or institution is a business and may feel that being completely transparent does not help them to sell the prospective student on attending. When you ask specific questions and see this form of attitude emerging in the answers about campus crime and safety, you should be aware as that could be an indicator of their attitude may not be supportive if you find yourself a victim of a crime.
Crime happens, and unfortunately it happens in both large and smaller schools, anywhere where there are people there is the possibility of crime. Any institution that tries to argue that crime does not exist, be it seemingly petty thefts, or more serious types of crime such as sexual assault, is in denial, and most likely not to be trusted with dealing with such incidents when they do actually occur – if you, unfortunately, happen to be the victim of a crime at such an institution, it is unlikely that you will be dealt with or even treated well.
The Worst-Case Scenario & Predicting Potential Violence
The average person living here in America is unfortunately very bad at assessing and managing risks. We tend to imagine the worst-case scenarios, which are unlikely to happen as opposed to the most likely scenarios. We exhibit a strange contrast when looking at risk, ignoring the more likely events, and focusing on the more unlikely ones. The stark reality of any situation is that we are more likely to have an item stolen from us than to be mugged or raped. But, having a something stolen is so much more likely and far less catastrophic in the overall reality of life, we tend to minimize it giving it little thought. It is far easier for us to contemplate the worst-case scenario like the mugging or rape which the odds are substantially less of happening, yet we fixate upon an unlikely such as a mugging or rape, which will probably never happen, rather than simply planning for and even putting in place some simple preventive practices, which would protect you from becoming the victim of a simple theft of a relatively replaceable item. This internal fixation of the worst-case and ignoring of the most likely case scenarios does us a great disservice.
The fact is because the purpose for this entire training is Campus safety (which by the way most of the discussion in this course can also be applied to other time frames and circumstances in our lives) let us keep our focus then on the element of College life.
With mass shootings in recent years in all sorts of places like an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, to a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, The Virginia Tech Campus shooting, an Orlando, Florida nightclub, an outdoor music festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, or the most recent Synagogue massacre in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After such events, it becomes quite easy for us to make a huge mistake in our thinking about personal safety in such an event (when the proverbial poop hits the fan). We are likely to convince ourselves that there is nothing that we could possibly do in such a situation. Because of that limited thinking, we tend to not plan for or even want to think about how we could survive given those circumstances. But there are things that you could do to increase your odds of survival. And we will discuss them throughout this course. But preparation is the key to defense and survival.
So, as you complete this course I want to give you a special gift, a graduation presents of sorts, so be sure to make it all the way through and collect your valuable gift at the end.
But, the good news is that as horrific as the events named above were as far as campus crime is concerned they are on the extreme end of things, but that doesn’t mean that you should not be aware of the possibilities and possible actions you should take. So, we will cover that a bit later on in the course.
For the most part, of course, most campus crime involves low-level crimes, such as thefts and burglaries. These are common crimes, which can, for the most part, be prevented relatively easily by implementing some reasonably sound security practices. The key to implementing such plans is to gain a better understanding as to how different predatory individuals operate, and the methods they use, for example, it is possible for you to be able to identify the sexual predators yet be completely unaware of the everyday ordinary low life street criminals like the muggers and other thugs.
Now, we must realize that there are some crimes which are very difficult and often impossible to predict. These are the crimes which target groups, as opposed to individuals. A College Campus shooting spree for example, where a student or ex-student goes on a rampage, indiscriminately shooting students and faculty members alike, is almost impossible for those who might encounter the shooter prior to the attack, to predict (unless he is walking through the campus carrying an AR-15 which would be a dead giveaway – no pun intended) But the obvious answer to such a clue would take cover and get on that cell phone and call the campus police..
Now, the people who may have had the ability to foresee such an event, would be possible friends, and/or professors and lecturers who might have noticed the individual’s actions and behaviors leading up to the event – but even then, they are only making assumptions and most people do not feel qualified to make such determinations, and even if they did it would be hard for them to have come together and shared their concerns. Fortunately, however, these types of incidents are very rare – and despite not having the ability to predict such events, there are still things you can do to increase your survival chances if you find yourself in a rampage or spree shooting situation.
I said that I would address that issue so let me share with you a recent blog post I posted on my blog at SelfDefenseCompanyGreaterBoston.com with just a few tips and tricks to minimize your chances of being a victim in such an event.
It is also essential for us to realize that violence can be broken down into two basic types of violence: the first being pre-meditated acts of violence and the second would be spontaneous violence
Pre-meditated acts of violence involve those of predatory individuals who plan and orchestrate their assaults. Two such examples of this would be the rapist or sexual assailant. These attacks are usually not just random acts (although they could be, but is rarely the case), but the attacker plans their assault, or simply takes advantage of a situation, in order to perpetuate the assault. The key point to understand here is, that the perpetrator is looking to cause harm to another individual, regardless of the situation, or what their intended victim has or hasn’t done; their actions and behaviors are pre-meditated. And such a predator shows little or no remorse after the attack and has no concern about the law or the consequence of their actions.
A spontaneous act of violence, on the other hand, occurs when somebody becomes aggressive, and possibly violent, motivated by your actions and behaviors in the situation, whether real or perceived. Now don’t get me wrong I am not saying that it was your fault, it simply was your fault as they perceived the situation.
Have you ever had an argument or discussion with a friend or acquaintance and after the fact thought to yourself, “well that was all their fault!” Of course, in any argument or debate, I feel inclined to say that “It Takes Two to Tango!” Simply meaning that even if the argument was the friend’s fault had you not engaged in it the argument it would not have occurred in the first place.
Someone, however, might become aggressive with you because you jumped the line and cut in front of them in the school cafeteria, or you got the last one of their favorite deserts (if there is such thing as a favorite desert in a school cafeteria).
Or maybe you pulled into a parking space in front of them is a crowded parking lot. As a matter of fact, I had a very similar incident happen to me as a very upset young man came up banging on my side window when I pulled into space in a crowded parking lot one Super Bowl Sunday a few years ago. There is a comical ending to this story, however, and no it does not involve me getting out of my car and beating him senseless. But as he was screaming at the top of his lungs that I “stole his parking space” the car that was pulled in the space directly in front of me began to back out of the space, so in a gesture of compassion for this poor misguided soul I put my car in drive and began to pull into the vacated space in front of me (Okay I may have run over his foot in the process, but completely not my fault). But however funny as that point may have been I promised you a funny ending to the story. My intention was, of course, to let him have the parking space that he felt so entitled to, as opposed to leaving him a bloody mess on the parking lot pavement. That is why I began to pull into space in front of me. And in the process of him walking back to his truck to claim his prize another car pulled into the parking space I had just vacated. Now one might call that poetic justice, but a parking space I assure you is no reason to beat someone senseless.
Or God forbid you are in a club or at a party and you accidentally spill a drink on someone. Heck, accidents happen, it isn’t like you reared back and pitched it in their face, did you?
These types of things happen all the time in life, and most people are decent law abiding individuals that aren’t looking for a problem and would choose to avoid the problem if possible. But, in each of these situations, the person who has reacted aggressively most likely didn’t come to the situation with the intention of becoming angry and aggressive, but it simply happened, something you had done or that they thought you had done – let’s take a look at the drink spilling example for a quick moment for discussion sake, they may have actually bumped into you whereby causing your drink to be spilled all over them – The wet crotch of their pants now embarrassing because it looks like they wet themselves has caused them to become emotional and subsequently enraged.
Now in each of the above examples, it is impossible to predict such events, as by nature they are spontaneous. Fortunately for us, incidents of this kind can usually be dealt with through de-escalation and conflict resolution. Often a simple “I’m sorry” or some other similar gesture is enough to make the other person feel vindicated. Like when I pulled forward out of the other guy’s alleged parking space (even though I did not know we had assigned parking spots at Costco) the fact that I moved was enough to make him feel like he had won and was returning to his truck to claim his prize. He, of course, did not bother getting out of the truck when the second person pulled into space.
A predator in a pre-meditated act who plans out the details of their attack such as in the case of a rape or mugging cannot argue that the victim led them on or that the act was consensual. Of course, the victim may have left their dorm room door ajar waiting for company late at night with all sorts of people roaming through the halls, but that surely does not make the victim responsible for the predator entering the room and perpetrating the attack.
For the most part, the pre-meditated predator has a process that they follow, and they actually make their assaults in stages and phases, which we will look at further in. Because a crime and/or assault, follows certain steps, if we are able to identify these steps then we will be able to predict and move away/disengage from the assault before it occurs.
So, now let’s move on to looking at a typical profile of a predator. This way when we understand what the predator is we can better protect our self.
The Predator Living Among Us
The predators who live among us are usually socially skilled and adept individuals. They could even be our next-door neighbor or a close friend. They know how to present themselves to us so that we don’t suspect them or recognize them for who they are. They are often polite, normally good looking, and do a good job of getting us to believe that they are nice people; people whom we can trust.
As a matter of fact, they are often so skilled at doing this that we find ourselves letting our guard down and putting aside our personal safety concerns, we might let them into our dorm room, be out and about with them one on one, or possibly accepting a ride with them when in actuality we barely know them.
The truth is that it is often easier to identify them by the methods they use, than by the façade they present to us. The predator is also very aware of the ways that we make character judgments and the best of them have pretty much learned how to exploit this to their advantage. It is a common belief among people that when someone is lying to them that the other person will look away, and not make eye contact – predatory individuals or the best con men know this, and they will keep eye contact when lying.
To better understand the predator mentality, we must realize that they are different from us: they see the world differently than does the average person, they interpret other people’s behaviors and actions differently, and generally march to the beat of their own drum when it comes to their relationships with other people.
Now let’s look at the five most common characteristics of predators, and how they differ from you and me:
- They Feel a Sense of Entitlement – Predators believe that other people are there for their pleasure.
- They Have a Lack of Conscience – They don’t consider the emotional consequences of their actions or feel remorse after the fact.
- Firsthand experiences of Violence – you are most likely not their first victim.
- Little Regard for Rules of Society or the Law – They have no fear of the consequences of their actions.
- They Have a Plan – They follow a plan, carefully laid out in advance in their mind, and adjust their plans based on their previous assaults.
The sexual predator is probably the worst of all. They believe that they are entitled to have sex without the other person’s consent, they believe that their victims have no right to refuse them. Most rapists are smart enough not to vocalize this belief, but they believe it nonetheless.
A mugger believes it is their right to rob other people of their money and possessions – they may justify it to themselves by making the argument, that it’s not fair that other people have and can afford nice things and that they cannot and that is a good enough reason in their mind to perpetrate the crime.
Predators known to when caught make many “moral” arguments concerning why it was their right to act in a certain way, and this really only goes to demonstrate their entitled view of the world. Yet they are no more entitled than you or I.
An example of this might be the rapists who claim that their victim led them on, and they were not able to control themselves sexually and because of that fact they were entitled to continue their sexual advances, even when their victim said no or did not consent. Of course, we all know that a woman has a basic right to say no or stop when she feels that things have or are getting out of hand. And that any reasonable person would respect that. But the problem is because of their sense of entitlement the predator is not a reasonable person.
If someone you know or have come in contact with demonstrates a sense of entitlement to life in general (this, of course, does not mean that they are a sexual predator) but, you should be aware that they may well have views of entitlement concerning such things as the relationships they have with others, including how they view women and sex. Better to be safe rather than sorry.
The entitlement that the predator feels often goes hand-in-hand with a lack of conscience. If a rapist believes they are entitled and have the right, to continue with sex, even after the other person protests that they don’t want to and/or they don’t consent to the act then the forcible action is rape. Yet the predator seldom if ever feels any guilt or remorse about the assault. This in itself can be very confusing for women who are assaulted by friends and acquaintances, those they knew an trusted, often believing that the people they know should feel sorry for what they have done, and at the very least apologize for the physical and emotional stress they are enduring. But that is seldom the case with a predator.
Often for the victim to see their assailant walking around campus without a care in the world, as if nothing ever happened can be extremely trying. The fact is, predatory individuals, have no conscience concerning what they have done, or about the individuals they did it too. They are not like us, and we shouldn’t expect them to act like us. Even though we know that it is wrong.
The sad reality is that the violent acts get easier over time for the heartless predator and it doesn’t matter whether they are sexual or a financial predator. The first time a financial predator, such as a mugger, was to put a knife to a victim’s stomach or throat and demanded their wallet, they were most likely nervous. But with each instance, it got easier and easier, and by the 10th or 20th time, a lot of those nerves will have gone or disappeared.
A sexual predator, after several assaults, will experience a similar calming of the nerves and be far more confident in their assaults. Now, for most of us, violence is a shocking thing, but for those who regularly engage in it, the shock value diminishes. If someone tries to sexually assault you, especially if it is someone that you know, don’t be the least bit surprised at how calm, cool, and collected they may appear to be; it is most likely not their first ride at the rodeo. As such the heinous act won’t be as nerve-wracking for them as it was the first time around.
Predators have a warped sense of reality often believing that their own entitlement allows them to operate above the law. They may also recognize that, in many situations, the law is oftentimes powerless to act, especially if there are reasons to doubt the victim’s claims. Often times a sexual predator, operating on campus, will know that at parties where there is alcohol they can always make the argument that their victim doesn’t correctly remember what happened – one such incident of a defense is if their victim was seen by others going into a bedroom, or separate room, with them willingly, then they may make the argument that the sex was consensual and that their victim later regretted what she had done, and so brought the charges against them. Unfortunately, many of these sex crimes fail to be reported because the victim is made aware of the many different ways in which they might not be believed – the predator or the rapist understands this and exploits it. Many criminals have experience dealing with the police, understand the legal process, and don’t have much regard for either.
The predator also often and in most cases has a plan as to how to deal with us, while we have no idea or a plan as to how to deal with them. That is the reason this course was created. The predator also updates their plans, based on their experiences.
A non-student sexual predator, who preys on-campus students, may realize from a previous assault that it was unwise to park on campus property where the campus police might be able to recognize that a car parked in a parking lot was not regularly parked there and would draw the attention or suspicion of the campus police.
As I stated previously predators are not like us. We don’t need to try to understand why someone acts and behaves in a certain way, we just need to understand that they do and that this separates them from us. So in summing this all up predators feel themselves to be entitled individuals, they have no conscience whatsoever, they have most likely committed crimes and assaults before, they, as a rule, have very little regard for the legal consequences of their actions, and they plan and revise their plans in order to use us to satisfy their different motives.
Friends, Acquaintances, & Strangers
I mentioned it earlier on and promised that we would revisit the subject of situational awareness over and over throughout this course. So, let us understand that there are five situational components present in any violent act:
- The Location of the incident – the place where the incident takes place whether it is your dorm room, the school library, a classroom or a common area it doesn’t matter.
- Your Relationship with the assailant – Is your assailant a “friend”, an acquaintance, or a stranger?
- The Predator’s Motive – your attacker has a motive; so is it sexual, or financial?
- Were there Third Parties with you – are you alone, with friends, most violent acts happen when you are alone.
- Your Personal State of Mind – were you surprised, drunk, or prepared and anticipating the attack before it happened?
The Primary Three Components are Location, Relationship & Motive
The three primary components to understand are of course: location, relationship, and motive. For the sake of this discussion let’s assume that a woman is abducted on campus when such an event was to occur it would naturally be assumed that all women on campus would be at risk. However, if it was to later be discovered that the person who abducted her was an ex-boyfriend from a neighboring town, then the location where the assault happened, would be the secondary factor to the relationship that the victim had with their abductor (this is not to say that you shouldn’t be extra vigilant, when crimes such as this are committed, realizing that the two key aspects of any assault are location and relationship) This victims ex-boyfriend would most likely not abduct another student as the act was based primarily on the previous relationship which had most likely gone bad between the victim and the assailant.
The motive of any crime or act of violence normally targets one of two things. Either you or your possessions. To be quite clear in the difference of motive a rapist targets you personally whereas a mugger targets your wallet or other goods.
Some of the best advice that we can give in the motive department is when a violent criminal, such as armed mugger, wants things that you have, it is better to comply and hand over whatever they want. There is, of course, the possibility that even after handing it over that you could be either stabbed or shot. But if they have accomplished their objective that result is a whole lot less likely. But if you refuse to comply with their request it is far more likely that your attacker will cause you harm. Now a great way to handle such a mugging situation and the assailant is armed is to carry two wallets, one with minimal information (maybe an expired or canceled credit card and a couple of dollars in cash) Simply hand over the dummy wallet and the assailant may well be on his way as he does not care to stick around any longer than necessary to accomplish his objective.
The three things that assailants fear most are 1- Getting caught in the act. 2- Being Identified. And 3- Being hurt or beaten down. So, if somebody is armed, and demands your phone, laptop, or money, or possessions hand them over the potential for it to all turn bad is not worth the value of the items. Items can be replaced, your life can not. Your ability to handle the situation is the same whether it is 10 or 100 dollars, your skills and abilities to deal with the situation do not improve as the worth of your goods increases.
The Difference Between Friends and Acquaintances
Sometimes our judgment is clouded and we don’t necessarily understand the difference between a friend and an acquaintance. This is especially true in the new world of Social Media. I once had an associate of mine bragging to me that he had X number of friends on his social media sites. I was quick to bring him back to the stark reality of the situation by asking him how many of those so-called friends he had ever interacted with face to face. He finally began to get the picture. These “friends on social media are not necessarily who or what you think they are. They can hide behind a computer screen and a fictitious name and you would be none the wiser. Now that particular situation might even blur the distinction between an acquaintance and a potential predator.
You see the big mistakes that people make on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook is they post way too much information. Tagging themselves in places where they are, tells the world where to find them. Posting a message that you are heading out of town on your dream vacation is letting the world know that there will be no one at home. I hope that you are beginning to understand that these platforms are great but you need to exercise extreme caution as to what you post and when you post it.
With that being said let’s expand a little on the difference between a friend and an acquaintance. This, as I have said, is often blurred in a campus environment. The person that you room with may or may not be your friend, but merely someone you room with. You often especially in a dorm environment do not get the luxury of picking and choosing your roommates. Yet it can be really easy to forget this distinction. A classmate, who you’ve gone to a few lectures with, is a classmate, not necessarily a friend, and this point can easily be forgotten when they ask you out on a date, after all, you think that you know them but nothing could be further from the truth. It is easy to trust people by default who have behaved in one role, to behave the same in another. But you should never let your guard down.
Let me ask you a question. Would you get into a car with a stranger? I am sure that your automatic response would be to say no. And this goes back to when we were a young child and that is one of the first pieces of personal safety advice that our parents teach us. “Don’t get into a car with a stranger.” Now way back when they were was when someone especially someone you did not know pulled up to your front yard, or another place where you were playing, and offered to take you to see some puppies or any other similar story that if you got in the car that something terrible was going to happen. So still to this day, In our heads, when we think about not getting into a stranger’s car, we are still thinking about a complete stranger pulling up next to us and asking us to get in.
Predators who prey on adults have to be a little subtler about the ways they get prospective victims into their cars. So, let’s look at a much subtler situation. Imagine a situation where a classmate who you’ve seen in class before asks you to go out on a date and offers to pick you up in their car; are they a friend, an acquaintance or a stranger? A truly thought-provoking question now isn’t it?
Well in all honesty in our experience, One of the safest definitions of a stranger is, a person who you don’t have any experience with on a one on one situation, or know how they’ll behave, in a particular situation. You know how your classmate will behave in a classroom, or campus setting, you don’t know how they’ll behave in a social or dating setting so for that situation and the purpose of this discussion they’re basically a stranger.
So, let me ask you the question again. Would you get into a car with a stranger? Some great advice is for you to arrange to meet your date at a particular location, rather than to accept a ride from someone you’ve never been alone with before. We do understand that in 95% of situations, accepting a ride to a date is not going to result in anything bad happening, but it really isn’t worth playing the numbers game when it comes to personal safety – meeting your date there and arranging your own transport back is a much safer way to go especially when you are just getting to know each other.
Remember that we said that predatory individuals are extremely good at disarming you. Maybe you have arranged to meet your date at a restaurant, choosing somewhere well lit, and telling a friend where you are, etc. – these are of course all good, sensible personal safety steps to follow. But, over the course of dinner, you find yourself being intrigued and beginning to like your date (remembering that these predatory individuals are usually quite skilled social players who can present themselves as nice guys). Well, as the dinner draws to a close, your date says, “I have really enjoyed myself tonight and I think you are really awesome. Why don’t we go and grab a drink, I know a great little bar, across town? We’ve both got classes tomorrow, so we don’t need to make it a late one.” The offer, of course, seems genuine, and sensible enough right?
Let’s say you drove to the restaurant in your own car or borrowed a friend’s car to get there. As you leave the restaurant and are walking to your respective cars, he says, “tell you what, why don’t we just take my car, it’s on the other side of town and we have been drinking and I can be designated driver.”
Well, he has just put you in a very difficult position, now hasn’t he? After all, you have already accepted the offer of a drink, and everything he is saying does make perfect sense; refusing the offer would seem rude, even ungrateful without any good practical reason and the only thing that is deterring you is your care about your personal safety. But this is how many predators convince their victims to comply with their requests; they put you in a situation where your only possible objection concerns your personal safety – and you would never want to accuse this person that you have just had a nice dinner and joyful conversation with of having harmful intent towards them.
So, let me ask you the question again? Would you take the ride? Well if you said yes then you are like the majority of people, even though you may feel uncomfortable with the whole situation. But you do need to remember that dates are strangers until you get to know them better – and they should be treated as such. They have used their charm and cunning to get you into their cars, etc., and it isn’t by offering to show you puppies, but by making you feel rude and socially awkward if you don’t. Now that isn’t always with ill intent, but is it worth taking the chance with your own safety?
Always keep in the back of your mind that a stranger is someone who you don’t know and don’t know how they will act and behave in a particular setting. He might seem like the nicest guy in the world in class, may even act like a perfect gentleman while you are at dinner in a public restaurant, but then become a real monster in the car or at the bar. He could quite possibly become the pushy, pressurizing, predator when you’re on your own, etc. So, let me close with this last nugget of advice. “Everybody is basically a stranger until they are a friend.”
Your Safety State of Mind
The more prepared that you are for the possibility that you may be targeted by a predator, then the more likely you be to be able to deal with the situation if and when it was to occur. Please understand that it is not our intention in this course to scare or to frighten you but to educate you on Campus Safety.
There are so many people that live their lives in a state of denial, they would go through life like an ostrich with their heads buried in the sand, believing that because up to this point in their life that something hasn’t happened to them yet, then there is no chance of it happening, at all. Well, a word of caution to that end. Living in a bubble and refusing to believe that such things could happen to you is at best playing Russian Roulette with your life.
I have heard many people argue that because they’ve walked home alone late at night numerous times, or that they have gotten into unlicensed taxis, or decided when drunk that they most likely should not have made, and nothing happened to them, they have the false sense of security that these things are safe to do. The problem with that type of thinking is that the more often we engage in risky activities without suffering an adverse consequence, the more likely that we are to believe that what they’re doing isn’t potentially dangerous at all; whether it be walking home on your own late at night after drinking heavily doesn’t matter, until it does and then it is often too late.
Now, of course, I know that you would not leave/prop the door of your room open whilst you’re taking a shower, thinking that it doesn’t matter, until it does of course. If your state of mind is one where you believe you can act and behave how you want when you want and don’t need to think about putting yourself at risk, you will eventually be caught off guard on the occasions you do encounter danger. That is simply the reality of life.
Then on the other side of the spectrum, there are those people who are too frightened to consider or think about the situations that they may face, and so they choose to consciously ignore them. They just don’t want to have to think about a friend of theirs trying to have forced sex with them, or having to encounter an armed mugger on the way home from a night of studying at the library. What they fail to see however is that thinking about and being aware of these things, and learning how to prevent them, is empowering, rather than debilitating.
It is so very important for you as a woman to take the time to understand how the sexual predator operates, to learn to identify the methods they employ to seduce you, you will not have to imagine yourself in a scenario where somebody is trying to rape you, because you will understand all the steps that lead up to such a moment, you will understand how to avoid being in that situation in the first place before the problem arises. We all know that violence can be a scary thing to think about, but we will say it many times in many ways as we make our way through this course, not thinking about it means living your life in fear, and with a constant underlying anxiety. And I assure you that is no way to live.
As a young woman, you may believe that you shouldn’t have to think about your personal safety, you might think that the responsibility for all crimes and assaults belong to criminals and assailants. Well to a degree, I tend to agree with you. But, I also know that a sexual assailant is responsible and to blame for a rape, not their victim. However, that thought is of little comfort to the victim who is dealing with the trauma and consequences of a sexual assault and no amount of thinking about it will take that pain away..
Unfortunately, in the world we live in, there will always be men who take advantage of women, men who rape. We all know that there is a lot that can and should be done on college and university campuses to change and educate the male student’s a change their attitudes towards women, and even change campus culture, yet with all the being said we know without a shadow of a doubt that there will always be those men, regardless of the information and education that they receive who will believe they are entitled to have sex with women, whether they are willing or not. No amount of education or shift in culture will change that. Unfortunately, this means we have to take steps to protect ourselves if we want to avoid becoming a victim in the first place.
There is a realization, however, and that is that your state of mind is your greatest personal safety asset you have, and the purpose of this course is not to turn you into a paranoid individual who is paralyzed by fear but to enlighten you and help you to better protect yourself. you should have a healthy understanding of what puts you at risk and what doesn’t, and learn to mitigate these risks in your daily life. We have a true epiphany when we learn how violent situations develop, we can understand how to avoid them.
Safety in Numbers?
As a rule most of us usually feel safer with others than when we do when we are on our own, however, when we are on our own, our levels of situational awareness are much higher and that awareness tends to drop when we are in a crowd.
There is a big difference between feeling safe and being safe. Of course it is true that walking home late at night with a friend usually means that you are less likely to be approached or targeted by the lone sexual assailant looking for a single victim, it may not mane that you won’t be targeted by a group of armed muggers looking to rob you – the more of you there are, the more cash they are likely to get.
But there are also drawbacks to the buddy system (although for the most part the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks). But, while walking and talking to and focusing on a friend, you may fail to notice the group, or understand that they have synchronized their pace and their movement to yours (Predatory individuals have a distinct process they follow, and this is explained in semester four).
You need to know that you may associate with “friends” that may compromise your own personal safety. There are some of those among you that especially after having a couple of drinks may not make the wisest of decisions. Heck, after a few drinks I may not make the wisest of decisions myself. Let’s be honest while we are addressing this subject. If you are a typical college age kid it is actually illegal for you to be drinking in the first place. Now the purpose of this course is not to preach to you about the evils of alcohol or drugs, but I would be remiss if I did not mention that both alcohol and drugs limit your ability to make sound clear decisions.
Alcohol consumption lowers your inhibitions and that in itself just wreaks of pending disaster. Have you ever found yourself in a situation that you did not want to be in? Ever left the safety of a party or even just walked upstairs with one or two guys? Or found yourself in a room surrounded by horny 18-20 year old’s, all looking at you like you were Thanksgiving Dinner or dessert?
How did you get there? Well unless someone picked you up and carried you, then you made the decision to be there, and most likely because you were drunk.
I cannot emphasize enough how big of a problem that is. Because with your diminished capabilities to determine the difference between not necessarily right and wrong, but more along the line of safe or unsafe decisions. I don’t know any self-respecting woman that would offer themselves on the altar to the starving masses. But many over time have been placed on the altar and later regretted their decision to allow themselves in that position in the first place.
Or even worse because this section is about Safety in Numbers we need to realize that from time to time our own personal safety is jeopardized not by us, but by the company we keep. You’re at the party and a friend wants to leave with a couple of guys (after all they have claimed there is a better party going on across town). You know it is not a good idea, because you just met these guys, but you feel a sense of responsibility to your friend, who by the way was targeted by the two or three guys because she was clearly intoxicated. That makes her and an easy mark for the sexual predator. And you in loyalty to your friend and in an effort to keep her safe decide you better go along.
How do you handle this situation? Your answer could be the difference between life and death, for both you and your friend. Now I don’t say that to scare you, but if it did then one might say that I have accomplished my objectives. You see we have talked about the suave demeanor of the sexual predator throughout this segment, and you and your friend just bought the whole thing lock, stalk, and barrel.
In order to avoid such situations, it is important to have open and honest discussions with your friends. You should never be put into a situation where you feel that your loyalty to your friend would jeopardize your own personal safety. If you tend to find yourself in such situations then there are a couple of options, make sure that your friend knows that although you care about them that you are not going to put yourself in harm’s way for their benefit. Or you simply need to find a better class of friends. You can often separate yourself from that feeling of responsibility by making sure that you have provided your own transportation to the party and that they have provided theirs.
Now, please don’t misunderstand me. I would never encourage you to leave a friend behind but sometimes you have no alternative but to make the right decision for you. You can help your friend by before the incident occurs educating them about the dangers involved in their behavior. But if your friend is a true party animal don’t be surprised if your talk goes in one ear and out the other. But at that point, you can sleep well at night knowing that you tried.
Please understand that there is a big difference between having someone with you walking down that street late at night, and talking to somebody on a mobile phone as you walk own that sane street all alone.
Many people as they are walking alone late at night and feeling anxious, or uncomfortable, will pull out the trusty cell phone and call a friend in hopes that this will make them feel better and safer. Maybe they feel safer because they feel that somebody knows where they are. But, unfortunately, just because someone knows where you are doesn’t mean they’ll be able to get any real help to you in the event of an emergency.
Imagine for me if you will that you are talking to someone and you are grabbed by an assailant from behind (which is how it usually happens), and that your phone is knocked out of your hand to the ground. Well, what do you think the reaction of your friend on the other end of the phone would be? Well, in all honesty, It’s likely that they would most likely spend a few seconds, asking you if you’re ok, they’ll then maybe hang up and try calling you back. But, when you don’t pick up, they may even start deliberating what to do, or even worse thinking to themselves that the reason you didn’t answer was simply that your battery probably went dead. Depending on how astute they are they may even attempt to call the Campus Police, but only if they know or can remember the number. Understanding that none of this is because they are a bad friend, they just simply do not have a plan, so they have no idea what to do.
The best-case scenario let’s say that they immediately called the police. It is going to take them longer to get to you than it will take for your assailant to assault you. You see often violent assaults, including rape, can happen in a few seconds. The average street fight or street attack for example only lasts for from 3-8 seconds.
So, before you grab the phone and attempt to call someone because you feel scared why not take a few seconds to figure out what is causing that anxiety in the first place. After all, something in your environment has caused you to feel uneasy, and rather than simply ignoring it you are better off to try to identify it and then if you do make a call be prepared to tell the officer on the other end of the line what is happening. Yes, I recommend that you have the campus police phone number stored in your cell phone. Don’t simply deny your fear, more importantly, listen to your gut.
Is the potential threat that has made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up on end real? If so how are you going to deal with it at the moment? Would you handle a perceived threat by turning back and going in the other direction? How about crossing over the street to the other side? If you are approached would you attempt to make as much space between you and the other person as you could? I can assure you that any one of these solutions would be far more effective than calling your best friend on the cell phone.
This all goes back to the discussion about situational awareness. It is your responsibility to be aware of what is going on all around you. That is a basic rule of survival and not one that should ever be ignored.
5 Stages of Conflict
There are for all intent and purpose five stages of the conflict.
People who have been assaulted often will say that their assailant came out of nowhere, and it all happened so quickly. Now in certain limited cases that may be the case. But in most situations, it simply is not true. In the most violent of attacks the victim experiences some warning signs, now their ability to comprehend or understand those warning signs could be the difference between a good or a bad outcome of the attack. Violence often happens along a timeline, and when we understand this, we have a better chance of successfully dealing with it. The Violent Timeline is broken down into five stages. Let’s take a look at them here:
- Non-Conflict (No Threat Present)
- Conflict Aware (A Potential Threat Approaching)
- Pre-Conflict (An Attack is Imminent)
- Conflict (The Poop Has Hit the Fan)
- Post-Conflict (Well I Survived Now I Need to Deal With It)
In the Non-Conflict Stage, there is no identifiable situations that require your attention. No threat of harmful intent towards you in your environment; and nothing to react or respond to. Now, if we are situationally aware and we have adopted good personal safety strategies into our lives, such as keeping our dorm room door locked at all times, making sure we always take our possessions with us, that we avoid excessive drinking at parties, and are known for setting strong social boundaries and not leaving our stuff laying around unmonitored, The reality of any situation is that if we are unlikely to attract the attention of those that might mean us harm, the result would most likely be that we could live the majority of our lives in this relaxed state. To do so, we don’t have to cut ourselves off from the rest of the world, but we do need to know what danger looks like, and be able to respond to it, when it’s encountered. An this again is all about our situational awareness.
If there is no danger present, then we can remain in a “Non-Conflict” state, where our heart-rate and blood pressure remain normal, and where our bloodstream is clear/free of adrenaline. This is a very different state to being hyped-up and being over-vigilant. There is no need to live our entire life in fear of the possible. It simply makes no sense to live in constant fear. But you must know when to shift the gears so to speak. To be completely aware and pick up on danger, it is best for you to be in a relaxed state, where you are open and completely aware of what is going on around you.
The everyday mundane things in your life are not a big concern to your awareness. There are of course things that your subconscious will alert you to, and that’s anything that could affect your personal safety. Have you ever been walking along and all of a sudden had the feeling that we were being followed – you possibly heard footsteps behind you. Your subconscious is always gathering information from everything that is going on all around you, and that sensation has set off a trigger to warn you of a potential danger releasing a shot of adrenaline both to alert you and to prepare you for a possible attack/assault. This adrenaline release moves you from the Non-Conflict stage to the Conflict Aware stage.
We all have the ability to sense pending danger. That sense allows us to pick up on all sorts of things. The out of place noises, the sound of footsteps coming up from behind us yet walking at a pace faster than the one we are walking at. The sight of a person walking toward us in an aggressive manner. All these things become warning signs and they are evaluated by our subconscious mind.
Conflict Aware Stage
Now, something has occurred and our subconscious mind has sent an impulse to our conscious mind an released an adrenaline boost. We have now entered the Conflict Aware stage and your emotional state has changed – and know that there are signs signaling a potential danger. At this point, you are simply aware of a potential problem yet you are not yet sure if the danger is real or not, and, if real, whether it is directed at you or not. It could be that the person who is walking up behind you is simply in a hurry to get somewhere and may be running late.
When you get that boost of adrenaline and your fear indicator has been triggered, you may well go into a state of denial, and get caught in that denial. If you’ve ever felt that somebody was walking behind you, your first reaction could well have been thinking that you were being stupid and/or that you were imagining it.
This state of Denial is a very strong state of mind, and easy to get stuck in. When you are elevated to the level of Conflict Aware don’t just brush it off but try to validate the existence or lack thereof the potential conflict.
Once you have determined that the potential threat is real and it is directed toward you then you have moved into the Pre-Conflict Stage.
You have come out of the denial and accepted the fact that there is, in fact, a problem, – maybe you keep hearing noises downstairs, or the footsteps behind you are getting louder – you will enter the deliberation phase, in this stage you begin to think of all the things you could possibly do. The problem is that you will start to compare the different options you have, trying to decide which one is best.
Imagine that you are walking back to your dorm late at night after spending some time with a couple of friends across campus and having a couple of drinks, you hear footsteps behind you and they are getting faster and closer, you have determined that someone is indeed following you.
The denial has kicked in and as you began to evaluate what you could do you decided to be sure that you were really being followed, so you change your pace slightly, and they change theirs, and when you cross the roadway, they cross it too. The realization that the threat is in fact real you begin to run through some solutions, and you come up with the following list of alternatives:
- You could run and attempt to get away
- You could turn and ask them if they are following you
- You could put your keys in your hand ready to fight and maybe even poke an eye out for your attacker
- You could grab your trusty cell phone and call the campus police
- You could try and put an obstacle, such as a parked car, between you and them.
This evaluation process as you run the options through your head can be slow and cumbersome and you need to have a plan in place prior to the situation. What you would do if… The best alternative is always to attempt to put as much space between you and your attacker as possible. So if running is an option you could grab your keys between your fingers, and pick up your pace if the assailant does not back off be prepared to attempt to call 911 or the campus police may or may not be an option and your only option may be to start screaming and yelling as loud as you can to attempt to either dissuade your attacker or attract attention of some good Samaritan that will come to your rescue. The last resort is always to engage your attacker.
But in the event that you are attacked, you have to be willing to do whatever is necessary to survive. If that means chopping at him, gouging his eyes out, biting him, or gripping his testicles and giving them a good twist. All while yelling help at the top of your lungs. Of course, if you are equipped with pepper spray or a personal alarm then, by all means, employ them both.
The attacker has three basic fears.
- Being caught
- Being identified
- Getting hurt in the process
The reason he picked you in the first place was that he thought you were an easy mark. Make yourself as difficult as possible. I can assure you of one thing compliance is not going to save you. So, if you are going down, you might as well go down kicking and screaming.
The Conflict Stage
In the Conflict Stage, it is truly Show Time. Fight or Flight has kicked in and you need to act. Now if the situation were a spontaneous act of aggression – for example, somebody has become aggressive because you have spilt a drink over them – you could possibly deescalate the situation by a simple heartfelt apology. As you have come up to this stage and evaluated all of your options it may be that running away from your aggressor might allow you to escape and avoid a physical conflict, or maybe in the event of a mugging handing over your wallet, might satisfy the mugger to the point that he doesn’t stab you.
But some conflicts are just going to happen and there is nothing that you can do to prevent that. It could be that such a situation is unfortunately inevitable. You may have even invited someone back to your room for sex, but before consummating the deed you have changed your mind for whatever reason. When you deny them they then become aggressive towards you. Stuck in your room alone with this person who is determined to get between you and your Calvin Klein’s and nothing that you can say is going to change his mind. At that point, it may be that you have no other choice but to engage in a physical confrontation.
The goal of that confrontation should be to escape from your room, and call campus police, if you can make it into the hallway and start screaming at the top of your lungs that might be a way to get him ut of the room, or again if you have to fight you have to rely on your animal instincts to simply hurt him worse than he hurts you.
Realize that in any self-defense situation your primary objective is not to lose, neither is it to win, but it is to survive, and survival means whatever is necessary toward that end. All weapons at your disposal should be used hands, fists, feet, knees, teeth. Anything that will inflict pain and push your attacker away putting space between you and him. Remember the objective is to attempt any way you can to get to safety. Rape is, in my opinion, the WORST crime imaginable. You have the right to determine who you will and who you will not be with. The forced act is despicable. And if you beat him senseless with a lamp then so be it. He deserved it.
The last stage of the conflict is the Post-Conflict stage. This stage takes into consideration both the immediate time after an assault, dealing with both the physical and emotional scars of the attack.
Although some physical confrontations can see you coming away unharmed, or harm to a varying degree. It may be that the environment you are in isn’t a safe one at that particular moment. You could have been raped or sexually assaulted at a fraternity party, you may have even passed out because you had had too much to drink or someone slipped you a mickey and then took advantage of you. Well in that type of situation, you must try and find your clothes and get away, or even worse you could have been sexually assaulted in your own room, and your attacker is still there; you need to separate yourself as it is still not safe, and you should try exit it as quickly as possible and get help.
As you prepare to begin your college life it is recommended that you take some time when you arrive on Campus to check out the women’s resource center (or Campus Health Center) to get an overview of what the process would be if you were to be raped or sexually assaulted. Now I know that may seem somewhat creepy to you but it is always better to know and be prepared as these type of attacks happen far too often on college campuses throughout the country. And gathering the information ahead of time I assure you is much simpler than trying to figure it all out after the attack.
After such an attack you can decide to take a couple of routes with sexual assaults. You can decide to report to either your college, the police or both. Your college/university has a responsibility under Title IX, to protect your sexual rights and freedoms. If you are raped or sexually assaulted, your college/university has a responsibility to investigate what happened; this is not from a criminal perspective, but from a personal one, with the aim of making sure that you are both physically and emotionally safe. If you have never been through a sexual assault it is not something that I would wish on my worst enemy. It could be that this sees your assailant expelled from the college, however, if you pursue this route alone, there would be no criminal charges brought against them. You can choose instead (or as well) to report the incident to the police, who will then investigate the incident as a criminal act, which could see the case going to court, and your attacker being prosecuted and facing a prison sentence. At the end of the day, nobody can tell you which route to take. The decision is all yours.
If you do decide you want to involve the police, then you need to understand that everything will be looked at from a legal perspective (not necessarily from the viewpoint of what is actually right and wrong), so if this is the route you choose don’t waste time in reporting the incident, the earlier you report it the better. Many lawyers/attorneys defending sexual assailants will often try and call into question your testimony because their job as a defense attorney is to get their dirtbag client off even if it destroys you or your credibility. So, if time passed between the assault and when it was reported to the police it does not help you at all. This isn’t fair or right, but it is how the legal system works.
Any violent encounter, will most likely cause a degree of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) even if it is something as simple as a mugging, where you come away unharmed after handing over your wallet, It is the aftermath in which you will often experience the mixed emotions and anxieties, that may last anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months. After such a traumatic experience if you are experiencing these feelings for more than a couple of weeks, you should consider seeking professional help to help you work through it.
Throughout this first semester of our college safety awareness program, we have stated repeatedly that predatory individuals are skilled social players, those individuals who use their charm and charisma to lure and entice you. They are skilled at twisting your view of them around so that you see them as someone you can trust and rely on, and not necessarily as somebody who wants to harm you.
One of the ways they do this is by testing your boundaries and finding ways to bypass those boundaries, or identifying the gaps in them. They will often try to get you to change your mind, by using their skills of charm and charisma to get you to cave in to a request, or see how you respond when they put you under pressure. If you have ever had a conversation with somebody where you felt like they were breaking down your defenses and chipping away at every objection you posted then you are dealing with somebody who is testing your boundaries. So, stick to your guns and listen to your gut.
As you work through the semesters of this course, you will be learning much more about how different predators think and act. You should start to think about how you could set some reasonable boundaries that wouldn’t allow somebody to socially take advantage of you. That is after all that this course is all about. The predator is much more skilled at playing his part and has much more practice than does most of his victims. They will try every trick in the book to convince you of their good and honorable intentions before they attempt to make a physical assault.
From your study in this course so far you should have a good idea as to the complexities of violent situations, and the things which may have an adverse effect on your personal safety whether it be the friends that you socialize and mix with, those who have no consideration for their own safety never mind yours. And even more important you should also have come away with a good understanding of how to predict, how to prevent, and yes even how to identify and avoid violence, before it occurs.
So congratulations on making it this far, and we’ll see you in the Second Semester