images-2Something that I find interesting about predators is that there seem to be two types, the BSD’s, also known as Big Scary Dudes, and the Stealth Attackers. BSD’s are the ones that you see coming. These are the people that the moment you lay eyes on them you are afraid. But you also have to be careful about those stealth attackers that are coming in under the radar. These are the people you least expect to commit violence.

Have you ever noticed that whenever you see some TV report of a child predator the next thing you see is the fact that he worked at either a school, a day care or some other job that provided access to kids? People are always shocked that someone like that could get a job with access to kids, but think about this. If you’re going to be a criminal wouldn’t you want employment or access that allows you to commit your crime?

In his book, Survive the Unthinkable: A Total Guide to Women’s Self-protection, Tim Larkin discusses the fact that you cannot let your guard down – whether the person looks scary or you’re just getting that funny feeling (5). If you get that funny feeling, pay attention to it.

Like Larkin, I’d like to encourage you to get on YouTube and type the keywords: Man beating female cop (or click the link). You’ll see a felon sucker punch a cop and proceed to beat her senseless. She’s lucky he didn’t pull her gun and shoot her. I suspect there are very few people who could’ve blocked that first incoming blow, which was the only punch he needed to get the advantage.

Larkin shows the same video in his training as a warning. He notes that since the young man’s daughter was also present that the girls presence will prevent the felon from becoming violent (Larkin 8).

In essence the officer thought she had an unspoken social agreement with this man.

  • Social agreements. Essentially we think everyone will play by the rules. Even for guys, we learn these rules back in school. Sucker punching people is wrong – if you’re going to fight, square off. Don’t kick each other in the groin, no eye gouging and such. In other words, hurt each other but don’t injure each other. However, felons don’t play by the same rules.
  • The problem is predators and sociopaths look at life differently than we do (Larkin 15-16). They believe that the ends justify the means and they have a complete disregard for socially acceptable behavior (Larkin 16).Here’s the difference: watch two guys in a bar start to get into an argument and watch as it escalates. If these are two relatively normal people, as in neither one are sociopaths, what you’ll see is a lot of bluster, a lot of posturing and then eventually a punch gets thrown. It is usually a haymaker, that starts somewhere south of Chicago, and aimed right at the other guys head. Everyone knew the fight was coming and usually the haymaker misses because everyone can see it coming from a mile away.Now, here’s how a sociopath fights. Normal guy says something that pisses the sociopath off. Sociopath grabs a pen off the bar and shoves it into normal guys eye, then kicks him in the groin, then stomps on his head when he’s on the ground. He may even finish his drink and then wander off. He won’t feel regret about it later and could care less if he killed the guy, that the guy has a wife and kids, or a mom and dad who are going to miss him. (In fact, want to see something like this? Click here for a scene from the 1995 classic movie Casino where actor Joe Pesci, playing gangster “Nicky Santoro,” who is based on the real mob former enforcer, Tony “the Ant” Spilotro, attacks a guy in a bar with a pen.)
  • Many of us can eventually get to the point where we could seriously injure another person, particularly if we have to save our life or in defense of our family, but a sociopath can get there instantaneously (Larkin 17).

It is pretty simple, bad guys get what they want because they are willing to use violence and most of their victims are not.

What I did not realize is that when I was young, my dad gave me some great advice to defend myself and end a fight immediately. If someone comes after you, it’s all bets off. If there’s a chair, hit him with it, if you can kick him in the groin, do it. If you have a weapon or advantage, exploit it. These aren’t skills you’re supposed to use on the playground, but again, even the playground has its own rules, and has adults and others that will intervene if things get out of hand. Dad’s advice was on how to save my life and its also Larkin’s advice.

Larkin addresses the difference between antisocial aggression and asocial violence (19). The first (antisocial aggression) is all about posturing and ego, while asocial violence “is like negotiating with a serial killer – it’s like arguing with a bullet – if it’s coming your way, words are not going to deflect it” (Larkin 20). When you give up, that just makes the other guys job easier (Larkin 20).

In both incidents, people can get seriously injured or killed. In a bar fight or two douche bags punching it out on the side of the road, accidents happen and people get killed – these are examples of antisocial aggression, which is commonly avoidable, but if the line is crossed you need to be ready to end the fight. In asocial violence the sociopath is already passed the “do-violence” threshold, or can get there immediately. You need the ability to get there just as fast if you’re going to save yourself.

Since we’re talking a little about road rage, I want to make a point here about it. While Larkins’ book is focused on helping women protect themselves, there are some lessons here for guys. Fortunately, I managed to exorcise my road rage several years ago but I still see plenty of people who immediately start road raging at the tiniest slight. When I was in college, at the height of my road rage, a guy cut me off and I greeted him with the traditional flipping of the bird, which he returned in kind and the verbal fight was on. He pulled off onto a side street and I made the mistake of pulling onto the same street.

I parked a half block away and considered whether I should jump out to “continue” the discussion, but within seconds the guy was at my window in a very advantageous position and ready to swing. He asked me if I had a problem (i.e. start a fight), and with my window open and his fist a few inches away there was no way I was going to be able to get out of the car without him pounding on me, so I said that ‘no, I didn’t.’  He walked off, probably saving my life. That’s antisocial behavior – we were both playing by some basic rules.

There was an unspoken question: ‘do you have a problem,’ which means, ‘do you want to fight?’ There was my response: ‘No, no problem,’ which means, ‘no, don’t want to fight.’ Then there was a retreat. He walked off and I drove off.

There were two lucky guys that day. Him and me. If he was a sociopath I’d be dead. There wouldn’t have been reasoning with him, nor would he have thought about the consequences of his actions. If he would have opened the door or tried punching me, my left hand was below the window sight line and holding a military style K-bar knife as my last line of defense (this guy was quite a bit bigger than me). If I was a sociopath, he’d be dead. But, I was playing by rules too – not going to pull out a knife while the situation was still relatively under control.

Larkin uses a different example of where a guy gets into a road rage incident and almost gets he and his family run over.

Larkins’ book is not about who is the biggest bad ass. Its about defending your life or the lives of your loved ones. When it comes time to fight, you have to be willing to do violence to end a violent encounter. 

The problem with many women when they get attacked isn’t that they were oblivious to the signs, the problem is that they weren’t willing to do violence. For women, their greatest weapon is their intuition (Larkin 32). You’re expert body language readers. You can further hone those skills by people watching (Larkin 38), and studying facial expressions (Larkin 39). We see this in the aviation security training. Here’s a clue: one common emotion or facial expression with criminals is they show contempt for their victims (Larkin 39). Watch for the slight sneer.

So, two takeaways here to protect yourself. First, understand that the world you live in is dangerous and there are people who don’t obey the social agreements, our ‘rules’ of societal behavior. Second, women are good at reading micro expressions, body language and other non-verbal clues so use your natural instincts to let you know when there are problems.

Larkin, Tim. Survive the Unthinkable: A Total Guide to Women’s Self-protection. New York: Rodale, 2013. Print.

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