This is Part 1 of a 2-part series on avoiding abduction and escaping an attacker, due to the frequent instances of kidnapping in recent news.
So, you just finished up your yoga class, the one with the creepy dude in the back that is always trying to hit on you in class, and you can’t wait to get home. You’re texting your friend to let her know that since the creepy guy was screwing up your namaste, you’re now going to be late to the bar. As you get to your car, she sends you a Snapchat from the bar and as soon as you open it up, BANG!!! You’re grabbed by the arm and told by a large man in a ski mask and hoodie not to say a word and to get in your car. When you get in the car, he punches you in the face and forces you to drive to the nearest ATM and withdraw $500. This goes on for three more stops. At the last bank, he jumps out of the car and runs away. You call the police and report it, and then try to get a hold of yourself and assess the situation. The situation is YOU WERE LUCKY, most cases like these do not end up with a survivor to tell the tale.
Unfortunately, very recently in the Wilmington Delaware area, there were two events in which this exact type of abduction/ robbery/ sexual assault actually occurred (as well as other locations around the country). Here are some tips to help you avoid becoming a victim.
PS: to all you DUDES out there….pay attention because, no matter how much you can bench press, or at least how much you post on social media that you bench, it could happen to you as well.
Avoid Being the Victim
1.) Situational Awareness: Starting to see a recurring theme in my articles now? If you are aware of your surroundings, you can keep things from happening to you!
- Good situational awareness is not just 360 degrees, it is 720. You must think of the area around you as a bubble, your own little area of control. And depending on your training, confidence level, and experience, that bubble may be bigger or smaller. If you have none of those things, it is the immediate area around you. Within this bubble are all the things you are aware of, have taken note of, and are either paying closer attention to or have dismissed as a “non-threat”. If you lack the training or experience, try to keep that bubble as clear as possible of other people. For example, if you’re walking down the street alone, cross if you see an individual approaching you. This isn’t paranoia, it is simply giving you an advantage. When you are walking down the street stay off of your cell phone as it creates a distraction that could cause you to not be aware of your surroundings.
- Before you exit any location, take a minimum of thirty seconds and evaluate the area you are about to enter. The United States Marine Corps developed a system called Combat Profiling, teaches Marines to create a baseline impression of their area, off that baseline, they can then pick out which individual or situations stand out as “anomalies,” or as the famous Sesame Street song says “One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just isn’t the same.” Again, your confidence and experience will dictate the time necessary to create a baseline, but that extra few minutes is more than worth making sure you are safe. Some key things to think about before you leave your location should be: Is there anyone lurking around outside or near your car? If so, are they dressed appropriately for the season? Did they make eye contact and suddenly look away? These are all possible indicators that the individual could be waiting for you. This simple technique of evaluating your bubble of control, could make all the difference in avoiding a violent incident.
- Humans have two distinct areas of the brain, the Neocortex – which controls higher brain functions (cognitive thought, language, sensory perception, etc). The other is the Limbic System – which controls baser brain function (motivation, emotion, behavior, autonomic response). Have you ever been in a situation where you had a feeling that something wasn’t right? Something just “felt weird” about someone or something? That feeling that you had? That was your limbic system being triggered, almost like hitting the panic button in your brain. However, if you continued to stick around that person or that situation, you became a victim of intelligence. Your Neocortex decided that the individual or situation wasn’t a danger and decided to ignore the warnings. This can be very dangerous. An example of the functioning of the Limbic System was in 1974, Carol DaRonch was approached in the parking lot of a shopping mall by an individual who claimed to be a police detective that had just prevented an attempted theft of her vehicle. She said the story “sounded fishy” (LIMBIC SYSTEM!!!). She got into his car anyway to go ‘file a police report’. The “detective” was Ted Bundy. Carol was luckily able to survive and escape, unlike most of his other victims. This isn’t a sixth sense we are talking about here. It is your brain interpreting the things you are seeing, smelling, hearing, and feeling milliseconds before your neocortex. Your instinct will trigger possible dangers, however it is up to you to train your “smart brain” to listen to it. If you are ever in a situation where you have that feeling that something isn’t right, trust your gut! It could keep you from becoming a victim.
2.) The Lure: Most often, criminals will approach you under a false pretense that is focused towards lowering your guard, and getting you to sympathize or even pity them. They will feign injury, or emergency circumstance and attempt to get you into their vehicle or gain entry to your home. In today’s world no one wants to be labeled the person who didn’t help- but no one wants to be a victim as well. Begin to understand that it is ok to say no. if the situation doesn’t feel right trust your gut and get out of that situation as soon as possible. Better to say no and avoid a potentially dangerous circumstance than to become a victim.3.) Set the tone: You can set yourself up for success simply by thinking ahead before you go anywhere. Here are a few tips to help you get started:
- SOCIAL MEDIA: Society constantly puts pressure on us to post to social media. We see it as normal to post everything we do each day on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Although we make these posts for our friends, family, co-workers to see, you also need to remember that criminals can be viewing these updates as well. Criminals are smart and in some cases more technologically advanced than we are. Be mindful that whatever you post can be viewed by people with criminal intentions regardless of privacy settings. If you’re going to the movies, bar, a sporting event, be as general as possible. For example, if you’re going to a bar, don’t add the name or location of the bar, just put “headed out, or hitting the club” instead. If you’re going to the Phillies game —GO PHILS!!– only write that, don’t post what part of the parking lot you are tailgating in, or post a picture that will reveal your section and seat. If you need to “tag in” somewhere, make sure you do it after you leave, not when you get there. If you are going on vacation with your family, posting “Going to Aruba from 6/17-6/14!” on social media basically says no one will be at your house for an entire 7 days and when.
- PARKING: Always use an outdoor lot, or street parking when available. Pick a lot or space that is close to heavy pedestrian traffic, or business that will be open when you come back to your car later. If you must use a parking garage, find a spot that is close to one of the exits, and is well lit. There will be a good chance that when you are coming back to your car, people will be around. REMEMBER WHERE YOU PARK. Two things happen when you forget where you park…..1) you begin to panic and your situational awareness goes out the window 2) you become a target, and are more likely to drop your guard to “some nice guy” that approaches you to help look for your car. Most of us have a smartphone and can drop a pin on the map where the car is parked, or park next to a pole with a marking on it such as “G2 or BLUE” and snap a picture of it to remember where you parked. Lastly, if you approach your vehicle and a van is parked next to the driver side, use the passenger side to enter your car. May sound strange, but attackers will park next to a person’s car and wait inside the van until they return. Entering from the passenger side eliminates a possible attack from occurring.
Hopefully these 3 key points are able to steer you away from harm. For more blogs, news, and videos, head on over to our blog page at www.opssecuritygroup.com/blog and connect with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter! Take care and stay safe.