I have made it my mission to educate people on how to stay safe and I do so by writing this blog, posting videos on a Youtube channel, and organizing practical self-defence courses. Over time I have discovered that there is one major factor that significantly contributes to the fact that most people do not know how to react in a critical and dangerous situation and it might surprise you that I am not talking about criminals or individuals with ill intentions, but actually our own ignorance.
Don’t get me wrong here, I do of course not mean that in a rude way, but there is also no point in sugar-coating things when your life could potentially be on the line, so let it be a bit controversial for the sake of having an eye-opening conversation, agreed?
Why do most people think about safety when it’s too late?
The interesting fact is that everyone knows that certain situations are obviously not good for you. Getting beaten up, mugged, robbed, assaulted or even worse is usually not on anyone’s bucket list. But most people actually do live with the belief that those things happen either randomly, by pure chance or only to someone else. Truth is, we all like to live inside our comfort zone, our “feel-good bubble” and as a result, we have a tendency of ignoring certain things that would disturb the beautiful image we have painted ourselves of our perfect little world. Some would say that’s positive thinking, not letting the negative get hold of you, and although I am a very positive person myself and everyone who knows me personally will confirm that, but I have to disagree here. Unfortunately, the reality out there is different from how we like to imagine a perfect world. The world we live in has a dark side too, there are certain individuals living in the shadows of our society, some are parasites, others dangerous predators. They might be after something you have, valuables, money, they might be after you because you are a woman, belong to a certain ethical background, etc. or you might just find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Whatever the reason, these things do happen, every day somewhere to someone and the crime statistics are full of such cases, leaving behind countless victims who found themselves unprepared and devastated when they had to face this unpleasant reality.
Crime and violence exist and are being tolerated
Personal safety is one of the elementary needs’ we humans have. Times have certainly changed over the cause of evolution, and we have made huge progress as a civilisation, but there are two things that always remain the same. For one, our basic needs have never really changed, and even though we have exchanged caves for modern homes, they still represent the same, safe shelter from the world and our enemies. Secondly, those “enemies” mentioned are predators and they still exist everywhere around us, but in human form. Whilst becoming an extremely advanced high tech society, we have managed to eliminate neither crime nor violence from our everyday lives. Instead, we live with a certain margin of acceptance, mainly from the government, towards crime and as long as the crime rates remain within those margins it is simply being tolerated. A better way to describe it would probably be using the term “ACCEPTABLE LOSS” and yes, that doesn’t sound very nice or politically correct, but if you ask anyone who has become a victim of a violent crime or anyone who has lost a loved one, and has to live with the consequences for the rest of their life, I am sure that they will confirm that this is the only correct term to use.
Bad things can happen to good people
So, let us agree that crime and violence probably exist in every society, wherever you might find yourself living. This might be to a different extent, depending on where you live, but in general, it can be said that wherever you have a larger population living together in a big city, crime and violence will always be present. Usually, the larger the population of a city is, the more the crime rate actually grows exponentially, as it is harder to control and enforce the law. It is for that reason that you will find big metropoles like London, New York, Berlin, Paris, just to name a few, being at the very top when it comes to those unpopular crime statistics. Smaller cities and more rural areas usually have far lower crime rates, compared to the big metropoles, but that being said, places completely without those problems rarely exist. If you want to find out what the actual crime rate in your area is, you can usually find this information easily online. In the UK Crime Statistics England and Wales publishes quarterly official national police-reported crime stats, but there are also other sources, for example, some real estate sites publish this kind of information broken down by local boroughs for their potential customers. There are also some free apps like “Walksafe” that mainly offer tracking and SOS call features but also show police-reported crime data pinpointed to where a certain crime happened (nothing for the faint-hearted). I think the question we need to ask is, “should you be concerned about your safety?”. The answer to that is simple, “YES” you should because there are certain threats that might endanger you or your loved ones. We have to accept the simple truth that bad things can happen to good people. In other words, even if you live a perfectly normal life, without ever doing any wrong to anyone, you can still find yourself becoming the target of a predator or criminal. Now, we want to make sure that we don’t become part of those statistics.
If we could only learn from other people experiences
Every parent can certainly relate here, we all try to pass on our experiences to our children so that they might now have to go through the same thing as well, but we all know that doesn’t really work, does it? And so we watch with pain how our kids make their own experiences, that we totally have foreseen, but couldn’t prevent them anyways as they were just not listening. This is how I often feel in relation to the personal safety training and advice I try to give, with the hopes to prevent these things from happening in the first place. However, it, unfortunately, seems not to be the way things work. I take this also mainly from the personal experience of organizing and running self-defence courses for years in several countries. Most people who decide to attend such a course, have either already experienced some form of violent attack, or someone they know did, and that had shaken them up to the core. Sometimes tragic and shocking cases of crime that get high exposure in the news or on social media have a similar effect. Take the recent example of the tragic murder of unfortunate Sarah Everard in London, which had upset the whole nation and resulted in thousands of women protesting publicly. Rightfully so, however without any real impact and just a few weeks later she has become already just another crime statistic or “acceptable loss”. I had personally many heartbreaking moments while working with survivors of violent assaults and rape. Whenever someone would say things like “if I had only known those things before, my life could have been different”, I would regularly join them in crying, as it really breaks my heart. We cannot turn back the time and make things unhappen, but we can help them to heal, grow stronger and get their lives back, that is why I am doing this.
You need to realise that your safety is your responsibility
The fact is, unfortunately, that most people do not think about their personal safety without some kind of emotional trigger, and when that happens it’s often too late. The statement here is very clear, should you ever find yourself in a conflict situation, getting mugged or assaulted, and you have never even thought about the possibility of this happening to you, it is absolutely no surprise that you DO NOT know how to react! I mean, how would you? I don’t say all this in order to scare you, this is not part of a marketing campaign with me trying to sell you something by using scare tactics. On the contrary, I plan to teach you how to be safe and confident but based on the proper knowledge, some preparation and the correct mindset. And it also needs to be said here clearly, yes you are actually on your own with that. Well maybe not completely, as there are people out there willing to help and I am one of them, but this help is mainly with sharing some knowledge and advice. Should you ever have to face any form of violent attack, you will most likely be on your own. With that in mind, I hope you realise that it would be good to learn at least a bit more about personal safety, how to identify risks that actually apply to you and how you can reduce them and of course where and how to learn the skills you might need should things ever go wrong. I am doing my best to provide answers to all these questions here.
I hope this was informative and useful, if you want to find out more about personal safety and self-defence training check out some of my other posts on the subject in the Personal Safety category.