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SamH
August 26, 2002, 03:13 AM
The following materal is taken from the Queensland Police Service (with irrelevant info excluded), and is a guide to personal safety and dealing with physical confrontations for the average civilian. These concepts are aimed at those with a budding interest in self defense and personal/home/family protection, but may also be interesting viewing for the indepently-minded warrior.

Enjoy, and feel free to distribute this information (with due credits).

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Core Concepts of Personal Safety

This section addresses each of the ten Core Concepts of Personal Safety outlined in the Personal Safety Strategies Program. These concepts form the foundation for all situational personal safety strategies and should therefore be incorporated into all advice and presentations given to the community.

It is vital to note that when providing personal safety presentations or advice, police should do so in the form of suggestions rather than rules. In the past police have provided community members with rules to follow in order to avoid attacks, such as don't go out at night alone, and always park your car under a street light. Advice presented as rules can increase the fear of crime, and can also place blame on the victim if the ‘rules’ weren't followed and an attack occurred. The only person who should be blamed for an attack is the offender.

By using suggestions rather than rules we empower individuals to make their own choices in personal safety situations. These suggestions are often best conveyed in the following manner, "if you do not feel comfortable… (in a particular situation), you may consider… (taking on certain personal safety tips)". For example, "If you don't feel comfortable walking alone at night, you might consider taking a friend or dog with you or even deciding not to take the walk." Then explain why.

Remember, only the individual involved in the personal safety situation can assess what their best options are.


1. The Right to Safety

It is important that all community members are aware of, and exercise, their right to safety. Of course it is true that it is not a perfect world and your personal safety may be threatened. However, similar to car insurance, which many people take out despite their right to drive their car without having it damaged, you should also be encouraged to implement safety strategies to deal with a threat to your personal safety. The implementation of practical safety strategies does not remove your right to safety, it merely ensures that you take preventative action and are prepared, and committed to your personal safety, should your right ever be threatened.

It is also important to acknowledge and respect that all people possess the right to safety. You may choose to assist others whose right is not respected, and encourage them to develop and implement a personal safety plan in order to deal with a threat to their safety.


2. Keep Fear of Violence in Perspective

Many people have a fear of crime which is significantly disproportionate to the reality of crime. This fear often results in unnecessary limitations being placed on one's lifestyle. Education is the key to putting the fear of crime into perspective. By examining the common trends associated with personal violence offences, such as how often, when, where they occur and by whom, the actual likelihood of becoming a victim, and in what circumstances, can be identified. Only when the risks are identified, can practical safety strategies be chosen and implemented to significantly minimise these risks. This way preventative strategies are based on the actual risk, rather than restricting one's lifestyle based on an exaggerated fear.

Undertaking this process will also assist people in dispelling popular misconceptions surrounding personal violence. For example, many people have a fear of being raped or sexually assaulted, often limiting their lifestyle to avoid the possibility of it occurring, such as not going out alone or at night. However, most people are not aware that approximately 80% of all rapes and sexual assaults are committed by a known person, the majority of offences occurring within the home.


3. Commitment

Being committed to your personal safety is fundamental to maintaining it. Many people have a strong commitment to preserving the safety of their loved ones, often being willing to take any action required if those people were in danger, but do not have the same level of commitment to their own safety.

All community members are encouraged to value themselves and develop a strong commitment to their own safety. This level of commitment will allow them to actively preserve their safety by implementing preventative strategies as well as taking action should their safety be threatened.


4. Confidence

Confidence can be a valuable tool for all people in many aspects of life. In the context of personal safety, having and displaying confidence plays a vital role in the preservation of safety. Offenders target people they perceive to be vulnerable and who would offer them the least amount of resistance. As a result, the vast majority of attacks can be deterred simply by appearing to be confident and self-assured. Remember if you don't feel confident in any situation, fake it!! This will ensure you enjoy the same benefits and may even boost your confidence.

Confidence is also reflected in a person’s ability to maintain their personal safety. A confident person is more likely to identify and implement preventative safety strategies; to have faith in their own abilities; and to take action if their personal safety is threatened. Whereas a person without confidence is not. Additionally, when people lack confidence they tend to lead a restricted lifestyle, thereby diminishing their quality of life.

As a result of the above mentioned benefits, having confidence will enhance one's quality of life. Confidence is a source of power, allowing a person to do tremendous things. All successful people have confidence in their abilities. As Thomas Edison once said, "If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves".


5. Body Language

Body language is a powerful tool that can be used to your advantage. By appearing confident and comfortable in your surroundings you are decreasing your attractiveness to potential offenders. Strong, confident body language includes standing tall with your head up, shoulders back and walking with a purpose. Making brief eye contact with passers-by is also an effective method of demonstrating your confidence


6. Awareness of Surroundings

Being aware of what is happening around you by continuously surveying your surroundings will alert you to possible threats to your safety before they reach you, giving you the opportunity to remove yourself from the situation. The key here is to look relaxed and comfortable, rather than paranoid, thereby making you appear to be ‘streetwise’, and further decreasing the likelihood of being targeted as a potential victim.


7. Trusting and Acting on Instincts

Your body will sense danger long before your mind will consciously work out why. It is vitally important to listen to, trust, and act on these instincts. If you do sense danger or pick up 'bad vibes' from someone, something or some place, you are encouraged to leave and go to a place where you feel safe again e.g. by walking or running away.


continued

SamH
August 26, 2002, 03:14 AM
8. Assertiveness

Assertive communication allows people to express their points of view objectively to (strive to) reach an agreeable solution. It does not involve backing down (being passive) or standing over someone (being aggressive). Assertive behaviour does not come naturally to most people. However, by practising assertiveness in handling minor matters, such as advising a shop assistant if you have been short-changed, or returning unsatisfactory food at a restaurant, you can enhance your ability to be assertive in other aspects of life.


9. Networks

One of the core themes of the Protective Behaviours personal safety program is ,"Nothing is so awful that you can’t talk about it with someone". However, many people find it difficult to trust others with their thoughts, feelings or experiences. Often people in most need of a trusted person to talk with, such as victims of domestic violence or people contemplating suicide, are the most isolated.

There are many benefits of having a network of trusted people to talk with. By talking with people we trust and gaining their support, advice and opinions we are often better equipped to handle and solve our problems. A supportive network can also assist to increase our confidence and self esteem – positively impacting on all aspects of our life. Everyone is encouraged to develop their own network of trusted people to talk with, as well as being a good friend/support person for others.


10. Personal Safety Plan

All community members are encouraged to develop their own personal safety plan. This plan is useful to build an individual’s confidence and commitment to their own safety, by considering practical preventative information as well as strategies to prepare them should their safety ever be threatened.

A Personal Safety Plan consists of safety strategies a person chooses to suit their own lifestyle and abilities. These strategies should become habits and therefore shouldn't need to be dwelt upon after they are practised. A Personal Safety Plan should not involve succumbing to a list of rules provided by someone, (e.g. police), telling you what to do.

As many people find it difficult to think clearly in panic situations, pre-rehearsing strategies will prepare you to automatically utilise your safety options. The technique of visual imagery involves imagining yourself in a particular situation whereby you successfully implement chosen strategies, thereby preparing you for action should the situation ever occur. Accordingly, by mentally visualising yourself dealing with a particular incident, there is a greater chance that you will think clearly and react automatically. For example, you might imagine how you would speak assertively to stand up to a bully at work.

When a person faces a confrontational situation their reaction may depend upon a number of factors including confidence in their ability to deal with the incident, their personal commitment to preserving their own safety and the options they identify as being available at the time of the incident.
As police we are frequently called upon to offer advice to community members in relation to appropriate actions to take when an individual’s personal safety is threatened. Whilst the availability of one ‘set’ answer would be comforting to many, the reality is that no-one can provide one safety option that will work with 100 percent effectiveness in 100 percent of situations. Rather, it is important to emphasise that an individual involved in such a confrontation needs to be aware of a wide range of personal safety options, in order to draw upon those that they feel will best preserve their safety in the given situation.


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PART 2:

Dealing with Confrontation - Effects of Action and Inaction

When a person faces a confrontational situation their reaction may depend upon a number of factors including confidence in their ability to deal with the incident, their personal commitment to preserving their own safety and the options they identify as being available at the time of the incident.

As police we are frequently called upon to offer advice to community members in relation to appropriate actions to take when an individual’s personal safety is threatened. Whilst the availability of one ‘set’ answer would be comforting to many, the reality is that no-one can provide one safety option that will work with 100 percent effectiveness in 100 percent of situations. Rather, it is important to emphasise that an individual involved in such a confrontation needs to be aware of a wide range of personal safety options, in order to draw upon those that they feel will best preserve their safety in the given situation.

This section will address the following issues:
- The importance of taking ‘action’ as opposed to ‘inaction’ to deal with a threat to our personal safety; and
- The three major factors that assist in determining appropriate safety options in any given situation. These being:
- the personal strengths and weaknesses of the defender;
- The perceived motivations for the attack/confrontation; and
- Any relevant environmental factors accompanying the attack.

Further to the above issues, this section will also outline a number of specific actions which may be utilised in a confrontational situation. This will be done in order to provide community members with a range of effective safety options for use, should their personal safety ever be threatened.


Effects of Action and Inaction

It is imperative that police provide quality advice to community members in relation to the options that may be available in the event of a confrontational situation. It may also be beneficial to provide an explanation of the probable consequences of taking some action to stop the attack and/or preserve personal safety, as opposed to the consequences of inaction.

At this stage, it is important to note that, for the purposes of personal safety, there is a significant difference between ‘choosing to take no action’ and ‘inaction’ - with the former comprising a valid ‘action’.

To explain, by ‘choosing to take no action’ an individual has made a conscious choice in the belief that the action of doing nothing will keep them safest at that particular time. In contrast, inaction occurs when an individual finds themselves ‘helpless’ and surrendering to an attacker because they do not have the personal confidence or commitment to identify what their best options are.

Actions that may be effective in confrontational situations include:

- escaping e.g. by running away;
- physical self defence;
- waiting for an opportunity or creating a diversion (taking no action)- and then escaping;
- doing whatever the attacker tells you to do (taking no action) - and then waiting for an opportunity to escape;
- screaming;
- negotiating with the attacker; and/or
- using a weapon to disable the attacker and escape.

Both action and inaction have a number of probable outcomes, which are outlined as follows:


Probable Outcomes of Taking Action:

- Defender (intended victim) is able to decide on the best option to keep them the most safe at the time;
- Defender is more likely to view themselves as a survivor (rather than a victim) following the incident;
- Defender is more likely to report the incident to the police;
- doing whatever the attacker tells you to do (taking no action) - and then waiting for an opportunity to escape;
- Defender is more likely to:
- escape;
- stop the Attack;
- injure/disable the attacker; and
- attract attention and assistance.

Probable Outcomes of Inaction:

- It is up to the attacker to determine the fate of the victim;
- The attack is more likely to ensue;
- The attacked person is more likely to view themselves as a victim (rather than a survivor) following the incident;
- The attacked person is more likely to blame themselves for the attack, and experience greater effects of the attack
- Physical, psychological, emotional etc.; and
- The attacked person is less likely to report the matter to police.


continued

SamH
August 26, 2002, 03:15 AM
PART 3:

Options for Dealing with Confrontation/Attack

Preparation
"Prepared is fore-armed". By rehearsing possible options and techniques to utilise in the event of a personal confrontation we are effectively ‘psyching’ ourselves to deal with an incident prior to its occurrence. The formulation of a personal safety plan, prior to an incident occurring, will ensure that the individual has a range of strategies available to assist them in not only the prevention of the confrontation itself, but also to effectively deal with the confrontation.

Another preparation technique that can prove useful in preparing ourselves for confrontation is visual imagery. This technique is used effectively in many areas, as exemplified by the safety instructions given to passengers before an aeroplane takes off. As many people find it difficult to think clearly in panic situations, preparing them prior to an incident gives them automatic options to exercise if an incident were to occur. Accordingly, by mentally visualising what we could do to stop an attack and escape, we have a greater chance of thinking clearly and automatically reacting, should an attack ever occur.


Motives of the Attacker

It is important to attempt to identify the motivation behind the confrontation, whether it is to rob you of your property or to assault you.


Robbery

If the motivation for the confrontation is to rob you, you need to ask yourself whether it is worth placing your personal safety at risk for the sake of property that can generally be replaced.

It is recommended that you take whatever action you can to preserve your safety. This may mean handing over your wallet or handbag. In this instance you should also try and note the description of the offender, details of the attack (including how and in which direction the offender left) and report the matter to police.
Remember that you should try to keep cash and valuables that you carry to a minimum, so that if you are robbed you are less inconvenienced.


Assault

If the motivation for the confrontation is to assault you, there are a wide range of different strategies available for you to consider. Firstly, it is good to be aware of some of the common characteristics of assault to determine what the most likely circumstances are for such a confrontation to occur.

Research has shown that the majority of assaults are committed by a person known to the victim. Males aged 15 - 24 years are the most likely group to be both the victims and perpetrators of assault. (ABS (1998) Australia Now - A Statistical Profile, ABS Canberra) Further, whether the offender is known or unknown, they target the same thing - vulnerability. Therefore, confidence, assertiveness, trusting and acting on instincts and strong body language are extremely necessary in preventing or stopping any attack.

If you are attacked, there are a range of strategies that you can adopt. Above all, you should do whatever you believe will keep you the most safe at the time. If you can escape by any means, such as running away, it is highly advisable that you take this option and report the incident to police.


Physical Self Defence

In Queensland you have the right to physically defend yourself with reasonable force, provided that this force is authorised, justified or excused by law. It is not necessary to attend self defence classes or undertake martial arts training to be able to effectively defend oneself. Each person has a survival instinct that acts to preserve their safety if threatened. The determining factor as to whether a person can successfully defend themselves is their commitment to their own personal safety.


Screaming

One of the most effective self defence techniques is screaming effectively. An effective scream involves making a loud, guttural roar, generated from the depths of your diaphragm. The scream should be aggressive and ‘roar-like’ indicating your anger at the attacker, rather than a high-pitched squeal of fear. An effective scream has the potential to achieve a number of results.

Firstly, an effective scream turns fear of being attacked into anger, and in so doing produces an adrenaline rush. This will provide the defender with an instant energy and power burst. The adrenaline rush will allow the defender to move faster, think quicker and multiply their strength, in order to deal with the attack.

Secondly, the defender has unexpectedly turned from intended victim to aggressor and this is likely to temporarily ‘shock’ the attacker. This will not only allow a brief moment to execute further self-defence techniques to stop the attack and escape, but will also cause the attacker’s body to tense up momentarily - increasing the effectiveness of any strikes executed.

The third reason for screaming is to attract attention. Even if people don’t come running to assist you, the attacker will certainly be conscious of the possibility that someone may have heard you and may decide to discontinue the attack, rather than confront other persons.


Areas of Vulnerability

Although it is not a police function to provide self defence training for community members, police can assist the community in effectively defending themselves by identifying a number of areas of vulnerability on an attacker.

The three primary target areas are:

Eyes - if the attacker can’t see you, they are unable to continue with the attack.
Throat - if an attacker cannot breathe, they will be unable to continue with the attack.
Groin - if an attacker cannot stand, they will be unable to continue with the attack.
Other effective target areas include: the nose, kneecaps, ears, head and face of the attacker.ontinue the attack, rather than confront other persons.


Weapons

Depending on the situation, weapons may be used in self-defence. Items such as a pen, keys, hairbrush, (in fact, nearly any nearby object) can be used as an effective weapon. Remember to emphasise however, that the force used must be authorised, justified or excused by law.


Options to Physical Self Defence

In an attack or confrontation there are a number of options available that do not require physical self defence to fend off the attacker.

Faking a heart attack, asthma attack, epileptic fit, faint or mental illness;
Faking a coughing fit and asking for a glass of water;
Calling out to a fictitious person behind the attacker e.g. "William, help me" - if you are convincing there is no doubt that the attacker will look around;
Tell the attacker that you have AIDS/Hepatitis;
Verbal response - negotiate with the attacker;
Tell the attacker that "Someone will be coming back in a minute";
Ask to go to the bathroom to remove tampon/insert diaphragm;
Be revolting - throw up, defecate/urinate/pick your nose;
In the case of an attack involving a knife or other weapons, use the ‘fantasy’ option to remove the threat of the weapon, to enable escape e.g. "I’ve alwaysfantasised about this happening to me, but the knife makes me feel uncomfortable...";
Wait for the attacker’s attention to be momentarily diverted and seek escape; and/or
Anything else that you can think of to stop the attack or create an opportunity to escape.

These options may be very useful to create opportunities for escape or to deter the attack, however many require further action as they will not generally stop an attack on their own. For example, calling out to a fictitious person will generally divert the attacker’s attention, action then must be taken to either run away, or disable the attacker before seeking escape. It is also vital to note that to effectively utilise any of these options, you must be totally convincing to your attacker.


Self Defence Courses

Whilst it has been previously mentioned that self defence courses are not necessary to successfully defend oneself, they remain an effective method of increasing awareness of practical personal safety options, as well as building confidence and commitment to safety. Police are frequently called upon to recommend self defence courses to members of the community and should be aware of how best to do this.

Self defence courses should address confidence, commitment, gender conditioning, as well as identify the myths and facts of rape and sexual assault. When targeted at untrained men and women, they should incorporate a number of self defence techniques that are non-strength related and easy to commit to memory. Ideally, the techniques taught should cover a range of target points (on the attacker), using a number of weapons (parts of the defender’s body) from a range of distances.


Summary

This section provides a range of actions which may be effectively used in an attack or confrontation. There are obviously a large number of other actions, which have not been mentioned, but would also be effective. Any action that enables a person to survive an attack is an effective strategy.

Remember there is no particular strategy that will work in any given situation. It must therefore be consistently reiterated to community members that they must determine what options they feel will best keep them safe, taking into consideration the perceived motivation for the attack, their own personal strengths and weakness and any other accompanying environmental factors.



© Copyright 2001. State of Queensland (Queensland Police Service).
This document is published by Web Services, Information Resource Centre,
Queensland Police Service, Queensland, Australia.
Telephone within Australia 07 3364 6464
International +61 7 3364 6464

C.R.Sam
August 26, 2002, 09:10 AM
Thank you SamH.

Veeery interesting read.

SamA

Blackhawk
August 26, 2002, 09:38 AM
In Queensland you have the right to physically defend yourself with reasonable force, provided that this force is authorised, justified or excused by law. Depending on the situation, weapons may be used in self-defence. Items such as a pen, keys, hairbrush, (in fact, nearly any nearby object) can be used as an effective weapon. Remember to emphasise however, that the force used must be authorised, justified or excused by law. Thank you very much, but I have a natural right to defend myself with and by any means I think is available and effective, and I'm not required to consult the man made laws before hand.

Nevertheless, I applaud the effort of the Queensland police to educate the citizenry about what their options are when beset upon by armed criminals in the outback.

I predict the "importation" of 9mm hairbrushes will soar...! :D