Threat Identification and Management

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Canine

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This is a huge subject. We all have our own idea of risk management and how to identify various risks. Here are some that I use.

Fear. Do you feel fear or a sense of discomfort? Listen to it. Get the hell out first. Then look back and consciously evaluate why you felt like that. What were the warning signs that got your Spidey-sense tingling? Once you identify what that was, you can then make a more objective decision about the vaguely perceived threat. Stopping at the emotion part and making final decisions based on that alone is lazy and/or ignorant. It also may make you less safe in the long run. Here are a few ways to identify what is an actual threat.

Discounting the word, "No." If a man wants to walk a woman out to her car and she says, "no," then he should stop. If that man doesn't listen to her, then that is a warning sign that this man may be a predator. However, "no" is NOT a black and white word. I had a coworker that liked to tell the story of how she and her husband first met. He asked her out. She said no. He asked again. She said no again. This went back and forth for a few months until she finally relented to his persistence. They are now happily married with kids. Sometimes discounting the word no is predatory behavior; sometimes it is the beginning of love. Since I can't tell the difference, I'm a "No Means No" guy. Some of us have a better ability to identify in which contexts no is not a predatory behavior.

Charm. Being nice is sometimes being nice. Sometimes being nice is a prelude to crime. Is the person dressed a certain way to gain a perception of niceness to manipulate? Is the person a relative that is acting appropriately, but has bad intentions? Again, we need context and more clues. Nothing wrong with pointedly keeping yourself in a public place until you can better identify why this person is being nice.

Typecasting. If a woman tells a man, "Oh, come on. You aren't afraid of walking little ol' me through the alley? You aren't really going to let me walk by my lonesome are you?" That is using a stereotype that plays on the idea that men must be tough and protect the womenfolk. Does the man allow himself to feel small and be manipulated into walking in a dark alley with who knows how many people may be waiting to mug him? Or is this woman immature and has a somewhat dysfunctional idea on how to create healthy relationships?

Loan sharking. A woman drops a couple cans of tuna from one of her grocery bags that fill her arms. A man runs them down and places them back in one of the bags. Then after exchanging smiles, he asks for a coffee sometime. That alone isn't bad. Normal, non-predatory behavior. What is bad is if she declines and he says, "Oh, come on. I picked up those groceries for you. You can at least have a cup of coffee with me." Red flag here. He is implying that she owes him. She didn't ask for his help and in no way should she feel indebted to him. He may not be a bad guy, but he is clearly not being respectful and is using manipulation (a predatory behavior) to get a date. At the very least, he is not good a starting relationships. Either way, he isn't someone I'd want to pursue further relations with.

Forced teaming. Let's continue with the above example. He could then say, "Hey, we got those groceries in safe and sound..." Stop right there. There is no "we". There is no team. No relationship. He is trying to make the woman feel some kind of relationship that she would find more difficulty saying no to. This is in my opinion a better indentifier of predatory behavior.

Too many details. When people lie, they go on and on. Using excessive details to demonstrate credibility should have the opposite effect.

The Unsolicited Promise. "I promise I won't hurt you." "I promise if you just walk me down this alley, you won't see me again. I'm in a hurry and need to cut through the alley, so please will you walk me just to the next street?" There are no guarantees with a promise. It's just someone's words. Why is that person making promises in the first place? Likely to placate you so you feel better about ignoring that funny feeling in your gut. No one should discount your feelings in that manner. If the person has any kind of character, they won't make promises (promises that amazingly create a situation that puts you in a less defensible position usually by getting you alone) with someone they barely know. If you hear the word "promise", start looking for other signs that support predatory behavior.

Criminals almost always give multiple signs of their intentions when a person chooses not to fall for the first manipulation. When you keep these few things in mind, you can increase your chances of survival. It all starts with that feeling of fear. If you don't listen to that, you are much less likely to raise your awareness and start recognizing possible warning signs in context to evaluate a possible threat.

Context is key here. Scrutiny needs to be applied.

I'm encouraging you to feel and react to fear. Fear is our friend- it is not a bad thing unless we make it so. Then after the fear, I encourage you to think. Hopefully, this knowledge will help you be safer and more comfortable with the inevitable confrontations we all have.
 

Canine

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The last thread I wrote (Men are Creepers) was full of pointing fingers and complaining. I took part in that. Pulling the Band-aid off was painful as it exposed the soreness beneath. That is not a bad thing as long as we can move past that and actually do something about it. This thread was conceived with that goal in mind.

I'm not entirely apposed to taking steps to be safe if a person looks scary or fits some type of embodiment of fear (even if that fear is born from a bigoted view), but we mustn't stop there. When we are in a safe place to apply some conscious reasoning, we have a duty to apply additional scrutiny to overcome unjustified biases that decrease our safety.

Becoming aware of discrepancies within ourselves in relation to perceived threats around us would be a huge step forward. The next step is what to do about it. How can I more accurately identify a real threat instead of maintaining harmful biases and assigning threat to [pick your superficial label here: men, women, tattoos, beards, large size, shifty eyes, etc.]?

I wanted to help remove unnecessary, unwarranted fear and replace that with simple, easy-to-understand methods that can quickly and somewhat intuitively be applied even in stressful situations irregardless of who that person is or who is around them. Recognizing a threat isn't some esoteric skill that a blessed few have- we are all born with this ability.

So why the extreme discrepancy between this thread and the previous one? This one has garnered 0 responses and 100 views after 4 days; the other thread had 3709 views and 149 impassioned replies during the same amount of time.

I may have a higher appreciation for my writing than it deserves. Perhaps that is so, but the subject material is more than good enough to at least somewhat offset any poor prose that I have demonstrated.

My knee jerk answer is people are lazy and don't care to make a real effort to replace their ill-conceived, preconceived notions. It's easier to keep on doing the same thing and keep complaining about how bad a certain group of people are. That is likely true of some, but I sincerely doubt it is true of all.

People are slow to learn. That is a bummer, but for most of us, that is a normal thing. It takes time to wrap one's head around different ideas then actually apply that information in an intrinsic manner. It's like riding a bike. Hard at first, but once you get the hang of it, you never forget. I can see that slowing this thread down a great deal, but the only feedback has been 2 Thanks. Something more is at play here.

This forum isn't geared toward this subject, and that is also a factor.

Whatever the reason, it is likely a combination of things. In the end, however, it doesn't matter what the reasons or excuses are. What matters is little has been demonstrated that the next step has been taken- to go beyond our prejudices and biases to make a core change. Not having had near the effect I expected is disappointing, but hopefully this has or will still make a true difference with someone.

Until the time comes when we can stop labeling people and saying that is a good way to identify a threat, I need to realize that I am the perceived threat (based on color, age, religion, etc.) depending on the person(s) I am with instead of what I am actually doing. Within those difficult perimeters, I will do my best to apply what I know in a positive manner. Despite my lack of success with this subject, at least I have done my part and continue to do my part.

I refuse to be fatalistic about my fellow neighbors and insist on leaving any place I've been a better place when possible.
 

SoulRaven

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Generally, I go on the premise that everyone is good unless they demonstrate a reason for me to believe otherwise.

That being said, I insist upon a full 360 degree view from in my van at all times, so that I have the ability to see trouble coming.

Inside the van, or outside, I stay aware of my surroundings, and am always ready to defend myself if the need should arise. Just this little bit of awareness and preparedness, allows me to enjoy my life without being paranoid.
 

Canine

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What you do seems to have worked out well for you considering some of the environments you are in. (Being more of a city dweller with lots of exposure to lots of people.) Awareness can be viewed in a way that creates paranoia or it can be viewed in a calm manner that creates an aura of confidence.

Situational awareness isn't just for reacting to something that may happen, it is a preemptive way to put off potential predators. Wolves, like human predators, can sense when their prey is weak. Wolves won't take a bull elk unless they are starving or it is old, injured, or somehow injured. Humans do the same thing. Of course there are exceptions, but those exceptions are rare. Predators go for weak prey. Being calm and aware displays a strength few predators want to deal with, especially, when there are so many other weak ones to go after.
 

Marie

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Perhaps, Canine, others, like myself, read your post as they would an article in a magazine. Interesting, informative, non-controversial. Ahh! Non controversial! I AGREE with what you wrote! Your perceptions are right on!

I think really controversial posts garner more replies. Lots of folks have some other point of view they want to get out there.

However, you might be right about it taking some thought and consideration to apply the concepts you presented. I guess I thought it just came naturally to me... But upon reflection, I think I learned those self protection points and strategies by experience. I was lucky the first time, smarter the subsequent times.

Thank you for putting that important information out there for all of us.

~ Marie ~
 

SoulRaven

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Canine said:
What you do seems to have worked out well for you considering some of the environments you are in. (Being more of a city dweller with lots of exposure to lots of people.) Awareness can be viewed in a way that creates paranoia or it can be viewed in a calm manner that creates an aura of confidence.

Situational awareness isn't just for reacting to something that may happen, it is a preemptive way to put off potential predators. Wolves, like human predators, can sense when their prey is weak. Wolves won't take a bull elk unless they are starving or it is old, injured, or somehow injured. Humans do the same thing. Of course there are exceptions, but those exceptions are rare. Predators go for weak prey. Being calm and aware displays a strength few predators want to deal with, especially, when there are so many other weak ones to go after.

Absolutely!  The less you look like a potential target, the less likely you are to become one.

I try to also make a point of not looking like I would have anything valuable enough on me that might make me a target, and I have also always been careful not to let others see how much money I may have on my person.  No flashy rings or watches etc.
 

USExplorer

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Well it is difficult to formulate a reply as each situation is so subjective. When I encounter a suspicious individual or a rugged mountain road I view it as a challenge to step up to and a test of my driving/people skills rather than a risk to be minimized however possible.

I've learned a lot from the mindset of those living in rough cities, where hiding or running or shooting are not possible, where life is enjoyed despite all the hurdles placed in its way by society. I accept the fact that a new-found friend would rob me blind in a different situation, and do not let it ruin my perception.
 

buckwilk

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I'm not sure OP that everyone agrees with your premise and perhaps that's why they aren't chiming in. The constant bang the fear bell in this day and age may have run it's course. The idea that if it bleeds it leads brings attention to something isn't always true these days. Seems to me that there is much more interest in the flower bloom in DV. That's healthy and understandable.
 

SaltySeaWitch

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I think the loan sharking and forced teaming points were especially good. Most women react to these subconsciously and may not realize it is happening. There is a book called "The Gift Of Fear" that I believe is great book on following your gut or instincts. It talks about things like the OP mentioned above and that you should flee and then analyze in a safe place. Safety first.

The older I get, the more I have learned to trust my instincts. I have no fear of tattoos, beards, etc but when my gut says something isn't right, I listen and get away. When I was younger I would analyze it (before fleeing) and that often put me in bad situations. I do not to need to justify my actions towards personal safety to others. I trust myself. That is something I think we all should all (male or female) have confidence in saying.

Imo, harm doesn't always mean physical harm. I have had bad feelings about buying a certain car even though it may have seemed fine, or about going to an event, or entering into a business deal. It can be any kind of harm: financial, emotional, or physical. If my instincts say no, I listen. I remove myself from the situation, then I reflect to see why that instinct was triggered. Like any skill, it needs honed. Sometimes the fear is based on past programming, subconscious reactions, and sometimes it is a genuine threat of harm.

Good post Canine. For some reason, I never saw it until now or would have commented earlier. I do not like the angry posts (like your last one) so I dropped out of it when some were too bitter and angry to discuss their feelings without blaming and bashing others. I had hoped it would lead to greater understanding between the sexes, but it seemed to just get nasty so I opted out. I call it the "He Man Woman Haters Thread" lol. Nothing personal towards you though. I felt your points were valid and you were at least trying to open up and maybe do some healing from it but some others obviously just wanted to spew bitterness and burn women at the stakes emotionally, so I trusted my instincts and left to my safe place :)
 
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