[Warning: this NUGGET is for information purposes only and is not intended to be a complete course on personal protection. If you are interested in this topic, you are encouraged to research it more extensively and to seek the advice of a self-defense expert or take more appropriate steps to protect your safety and that of your family.]

A gentleman was walking on the sidewalk, speaking on a cellphone, when suddenly, a person who was seated in front of a retail establishment and who had been eyeing passersby looking for a victim, jumped to his feet and dashed toward the cellphone user, viciously pushing him into the path of an oncoming truck, while snatching the cellphone from the cellphone user’s hand.  The truck came to a screeching stop trapping the innocent cell user under the front wheel. It was fortunate that the cell user only suffered a crushed arm, crushed ribs, punctured lung, and permanent damage to his face.  It could have been worse.

In another instance, a couple, in this instance, meaning a man and a woman, was walking along a sidewalk, arm in arm, enjoying the sites of the city. It was their first day out after settling into their new home in their new city. A man walking toward them suddenly lurched and swung a powerful haymaker (circular punch) at the gentleman. Only quick reflexes avoided a potentially lethal situation. The man who was attacked was able to duck the punch. The attacker, fully expecting to make solid, powerful contact with the defender’s head, momentarily was unbalanced by the lack of solid contact. That allowed the innocent gentleman just enough time to follow through with a few defensive techniques.

The streets, and the home, are becoming places frequented by crazies.  There are young criminals with small knives seeking to surprise victims; some criminals, long knives. Criminals who surprise from behind. Criminals who work in small rat packs of 2 to 4. Criminals are everywhere. Victims everywhere, too.

Point is: any of those victims could have been YOU.

There is something bad going on in society these days.

Impatience and hatred is rising. Violence and the magnitude of violence is rising. Yet, far too many people are ignoring the dangers they are exposing themselves to by having a passive attitude toward their environments. A passive attitude when mixing with various environments, venues, and even in your own home, can expose you to great dangers that you may others avoid or minimize. Oh, and here’s something I hear often…

Here’s the FOOL’S FAVORITE LINE: “I do not plan to live my life in fear or let criminals control my behaviour.”  Only a fool says that. Criminals want YOU, if that is your attitude. So, wise up! Learning how to take some basic steps to minimize, or protect yourself, against attracting violence, is simply a SMART THING TO DO.

If you follow a few prevention and basic survival tips, then, indeed, you may able to be safer in your home and when out shopping or travelling. Here’s a small checklist of some of the top-of-mind items and behaviours you should maintain EVERY MINUTE OF EVERY DAY to help minimize the chances of being a victim of a violent crime, (in no particular order…)

  • Lock your doors ALL THE TIME.  Do so when at home and when driving your vehicle.
  • Avoid flashing your wealth. Doing so, today, only attracts potential and professional criminals looking for their next mark. Long gone are the days when expensive watches, fat diamonds, $5,000 suits, a Jaguar or Ferrari in the driveway, a large home, a large powerboat in the driveway, etc., are designed to attract the attention of your ideal sex partner. Nowadays, those things exhibit naivete’ or urban stupidity. They attract criminals and can endanger the safety of you and your family.
  • Read or listen to alternative news sites to see beyond the mainstream media. Seriously.  I am not about conspiracy theories or one of those who have taken political sides running around spouting off about “Fake News”. But there is a sea-change taking place in society and the mainstream media does not want to cover the transition that you need to know about. In short: the world, your own city, is becoming increasingly violent. And, you should become increasingly vigilant…and prepared.
  • Know that: NO. THE COPS WILL NOT PROTECT YOU.  Yes, the cops will make a police report, but don’t expect the cops to PREVENT a crime, or an attack on you. You have to be constantly vigilant and take appropriate measures to protect yourself.
  • Know that: being out in public is no protection. People are becoming increasingly reluctant to intercede when violence breaks out. Majority of people have never witnessed a street attack, street violence. It’s shocking. It’s far from what you see in the movies. That shock immobilizes most people. Those not immobilized are now trained to whip out their cell phones and produce a monetizing video for social media. So, while you get the crap pounded out of you, remember to smile for the camera. Or, take preventative and protective measures so you won’t need to be that victim on camera.
  • Wallets and purses should be inconspicuous. Gone are the days when women should be shopping for and displaying a “purse that matches my wardrobe”. Instead, shop for that purse that is manageable, functional, and difficult to wrench out of your arms.
  • Hang on tightly, both hands, to your purse while walking. Keep your wallet in a location difficult for pickpockets and where the bulge is least visible to help minimize unwanted attention to  the fact that you are carrying a wallet.
  • Don’t park beside vans, box-trucks, in dark places, alleys, or far from traffic areas. Park where you will be visible when accessing your vehicle.
  • Whenever you turn your back, such as when placing groceries into the back of your vehicle, remain aware of your surroundings. Use the place and peak method of stashing your goodies into your vehicle: look around, observe who is where; pick up a bag, look around, observe if any noteworthy changes, place your bag; look up and look around, repeat ad nauseum.
  • DON’T…just DON’T…talk on a cellphone or text message while walking.  Keep your cellphone stored away in your pocket or purse. Keep your eyes on your surroundings. Not only is it dangerous and easy to become distracted so you do stupid things like walk absentmindedly in front of oncoming cars, but you also tell criminals that you are an easy mark.
  • Don’t park or walk in poorly lit areas.
  • Don’t walk close to hedges, large tree trunks, enclaves, that can hide criminals waiting to pounce.
  • If you see a group of 3 or 4 walking toward you, raise your yellow flags, and if they are “misbehaving” when you see them at a distance, possibly cross the street well in advance. But don’t show fear or anxiety when doing so. Make that transition as casually, as discretely, as you can.
  • Don’t run alone. And if running/training outdoors alone, don’t veer off highly visible pathways. It may be a perk that your neighbourhood has a “wilderness” pathway, but if you go alone you may not come out. Think ahead. There may be wild animals if the neighbourhood has encroached on natural habitats, but there may also be criminals. Enjoy that pathway only when accompanied by a friend or two. If you insist on being bold and want to take the risk because, “there’s been no reports THAT YOU ARE AWARE OF”, of attacks taking place on that pathway, be sure to go at a time when you know others are also walking that pathway and remain in the center of that pathway to allow maximum number of steps between you and a potential attacker lurking in the bushes alongside the pathway.
  • Do your intervals when you are in highly visible areas where the likelihood of crime or encountering a wild animal is at its lowest potential.  When training outdoors save your maximum effort for areas of maximum visibility. Don’t exhaust yourself in areas out of line of sight of many other people. If you use interval training while running, tone down your intervals to about 70% of your maximum speed when on isolated pathways so you have some RESERVE SPEED should you need to suddenly accelerate to evade an attacker, be that a wild animal or a criminal. When in highly visible areas, go for it, go for your burn at 100% top speed.
  • When stopped by someone, keep a distance of at least arms length reach. Anything closer should smell of danger.
  • Maintain confident eye contact, confident body posture, when encountering a stranger, but don’t focus your eyes as if they are laser beams. Your eyes should be constantly scanning your environment, even friendly environments, for possible dangers arising from the sides and back of you. Scan then focus. Scan then focus. Put your head on a swivel and look around occasionally. Increase the frequency if you feel a bit uneasy with the circumstances. Keep in mind, con artists can be very charming and disarming. The nicer the stranger is, the more your red flags should be flying.
  • Say NO to headphones/double earbuds.  There are two SMART REASONS for that…First, if you are listening to your playlist on an a cellphone, know that the wire from the cellphone to your earbud acts like a microwave antenna directing microwaves, FROM THE CONSTANT TRANSMISSIONS from the cellphone, directly into your brain. North American cellphone providers won’t tell you this, but EUROPE had plenty of unbiased studies warning users of this danger, called  ”EMF radiation” and cell phones make plenty of it. That wire is a conductor and channels and focuses it directly into your brain cells, doing to them what a microwave oven does to food.  Consider using an MP3 player instead which MAY BE a bit safer since it is not a transmission device, and download your playlist to your MP3 player.  The second reason is to be street smart enough to allow your senses to be able to detect encroaching dangers. If you block your hearing you lose one of your important senses.  If you must use earbuds, cellphone or MP3, use only one earbud so the other ear is available to alert you to possible audible dangers.
  • Public transportation is getting increasingly dangerous. Criminals here are becoming bolder. Seated passengers make easy targets for snatch and grab of purses or shopping bags of goodies. Women have been pushing for equal rights and are getting them from criminals, too. Expect a woman to be punched in the face for a knockout or to distract while the snatch and grab takes place just before the next bus or subway stop when the criminal can flee. Avoid public transportation that does not have working cameras to record passenger behaviour. Also, while waiting for a bus or the subway, be smart about that. Don’t stand alongside the curb or at the edge of the light-rail, or subway platform. Keep your back to the wall if a wall is available. Otherwise, position yourself in a manner that provides maximum protection from unexpected attacks from the back or sides. If strangers, even one, enters the bus shelter, especially at night, and you feel even a bit uneasy, move to the outside of the shelter, even in colder weather. Trust your instincts!!  Don’t ignore your instincts!!
  • Same rules as bus shelters apply to elevators. If your gut tells you of a possible uneasy situation, get off at the nearest floor. NEVER turn your back to someone who provokes your danger instinct. Get off the elevator, don’t take on the risk of overriding your instinct.
  • YES…CARRY YOUR PHONE WITH YOU…you may need it in an emergency. But DON’T place it near your groin and don’t place it over your heart or in your bra. The EMF is DANGEROUS…CANCER-CAUSING DANGEROUS or HEART-STOPPING DANGEROUS…but you have to go beyond North American mainstream media to know that. You need to study the extensive, unbiased research conducted in Europe. Think of your heart. It is a very delicate muscle triggered to beat in a regular rhythm by very tiny electrical impulses. What’s a cell phone pumping out? Electrical impulses, (EMF radiation). The cellphone IS powerful enough to burn cells and to interfere with electrical impulses. So, expect that in time it will affect your organs. Be street smart. Tuck you cell phone away from boobs, other sex and vital organs. Even your kidneys are delicate enough to suffer from EMF radiation.
  • Sign up for self-defense lessons.  This is always a good idea. Even a couple hours course on street smarts. Years ago a good friend of mine and I conducted 5-week course, 2 hours an evening training women on basic escape tactics and on our CAP system. In a nutshell: CAP  is our acronym for CARE, AVOIDANCE, and PROTECTION.

CARE: pay attention to your route, your destination, your objective while travelling, study the destination to know safe and dangerous areas, where to go for help, etc. And, by the way, the police may not be helpful in some foreign destinations. While in a small town in Peru, a colleague who escaped his kidnappers ran barefoot into a police station to be greeted by, “It happens all the time.  What do you want us to do.”

AVOIDANCE:  if you know areas are unsafe, don’t go there. Ask the concierge about areas to avoid and what to do if you accidentally veer off into one of those dangerous areas. If confronted by a criminal, a mugger, rapist, you need some street smarts to know what to do, when to cooperate and when to escalate. It is always too late when confronted, especially by a knife-wielding or gun-wielding criminal. I have no advice for you in such a situation. It is always best to take sufficient CARE to know ahead of time how to avoid being in the wrong place in which you place yourself into victim mode.

PROTECTION: includes equipping your home with an alarm system, setting it every night, and even in the daytime in some areas of the city, locking your car and home doors almost always, parking your car in your garage to avoid attracting criminals, keeping valuables OUT OF SIGHT in your vehicle as well as in your home, removing obvious weapons such a knives, baseball bats, etc., from points of entry or counter tops, how to handle delivery staff at your front door–never, never let anyone in to place their delivery bag inside your front door while they settle your bill for delivery, etc., equipping your home with adequate outdoor lighting to illuminate shadows, etc.. If you like dogs, get one and train it how to respond to the door bell, knocks at the door, or unwanted visitors. Take your dog with you on your walks–keep it on a leash of about 6 feet long–let it socialize with other dogs while you hold its leash, but prevent strangers from petting your dog. You want your dog to be friendly but responsive to your commands, yet, to not let any stranger override your commands. And be a responsible owner…pick up the poop and place it in your own garbage can when you return!

As you can see, being street smart requires forethought, active thinking, and a bit of “conditioning”. There’s lots more for you to know. You should read up on the subject, talk to friends, take self-defense lessons, attend a few seminars, even watch a few videos on available social media. Do whatever you can to get your head around the reality of today’s life in a privileged country. And, we live in a privileged country: we lots of freedom to do what we want and go almost anywhere in relative safety…but never in total freedom and never in total safety. There are boundaries out there. Some of those boundaries imposed upon us by law and by criminals.

Be street wise!