In a suburban target store near Seattle, WA a man entered a Target store and approached a woman and ordered her to exit the store with him. He stated he had a gun, and when he threatened to shoot her, she said, “Go ahead.” He then grabbed her arm forcefully and she broke his grip and created distance alerting others to her problem.
I teach women, young and old, to believe something can and will happen. It is when we do the unexpected quickly that increases our chances of safety and survival.
In the Safe Girls Seminar we focus attention on believing anything can happen and equipping women to not only be alert, but to know how to respond when it does.
Everybody has an Arc of Survival, this is a decision process that occurs based upon training. It begins with Denial, goes to Deliberation, and ends in Decisive action – this is a process that takes time, especially when one doesn’t expect a problem. The goal of the training is to shrink the Arc of Survival and respond quickly by using your voice, coupled with physical skills if necessary.
In this situation, the victim kept her head. The reporter revealed she has a CCW license and was armed. I believe this helped her. Any prior training will come to your aid. The only thing I would have improved was to become louder faster and deliver precision strikes to his eyes, nose and throat.
Although security was alerted, they did not attempt to stop the man. He was able to escape the store, go into another store nearby and attempt to assault an employee in the bathroom. She too resisted, which led to his capture.
Two girls were tricked into getting into an Uber driver’s car this past weekend near the University of Georgia. This isn’t the first story I’ve read about this, and you can bet predators are paying attention. Predators need two things to be successful: Privacy and Control. Give him the thought he might get neither, he will often cut his losses.
In this video, I give a break down of the incident and a few tips to help you teach the girls in your life how to avoid this growing problem.
When a car rams into a crowd, resist the natural American urge to rush in and render help. While your focus is on the wounded, you might next feel a knife plunged into your back, and now you are no good to anyone.
Your time to help might be short in coming though. If you read this article, you are now one of the informed, and it is my hope, being one of the informed might aid you in saving lives, including your own.
Why would I suggest such a thing? It seems so calloused and heartless to write, let alone do in real life.
Please understand, I’m not asking you to do nothing. I’m just asking you to wait a few moments. If you are in close proximity to an attack like this, rushing in may be the last thing you do.
The good hearted people who rush in to help do so because they haven’t given thought that this type of event could actually happen to them, and their Arc of Survival forces them to do nice things, but they are actually potentially detrimental things.
For normal people, seeing a car careening through a crowd and mowing people down would lead most people to believe the driver must have a medical problem. Who else but one with a health problem would run a car into a crowd?
The common sense thing for good people to do in this situation is to call the police, tend to the wounded and to check on the driver to make sure he is conscious and breathing.
That is, if we lived in a common sense, predictable world. If the world has ever been predictable, it is now arguably less so. At what other time in history have we seen such senseless acts where madmen (are they really?) run their cars into a crowd of people, exit, and begin stabbing anyone within reach of their blade?
We can no longer function in such a common sense way as we have done in the past. Just as 9/11 changed things in America, these smaller events must make us evaluate how we respond as citizens.
Could This Happen Here?
I am always stunned when I hear media talking heads trying to discover whether this same situation could happen in America. This we know: ISIS has encouraged young Jihadis to use their cars to ram into crowds and then stab those who come to help.
It is a recommended method of attack because it is so easy to do. It is low tech, low cost, and not easy to detect.
Car ramming/stabbing attacks have already happened a lot: France, United States, Great Britain.
Are our memories so short that we forget this exact scenario happened at Ohio State University just a few months ago?
You might recall how on November 28, 2016, Abdul Razak Ali Artan, suspected Islamist terrorist, inspired by ISIS propaganda, rammed his car into a crowd at OSU’s Watts Hall. Of course the students believed no sane person could possibly do this on purpose, so when they moved into help the injured, several were slashed by the suspect before being gunned down by a police officer on scene. A total of 13 people were directly injured by the terrorist before he was shot by the police.
Jihadis are on the attack, and we continue to believe it cannot happen to
us. This is our weakness: Failure to believe it can happen to us or in close proximity to us.
Understand The Arc of Survival
In her book, The Unthinkable, Amanda Ripley examines how our brains respond during emergency events. Each person’s response is different based upon their exposure to such incidents, and is dependent on whether they have allowed their brains to think about violent incidents and how they respond.
Depending on whether a human being has thought about, seen or practiced for something often determines how they respond and in some cases whether they survive violence.
The Arc of Survival involves three distinct phases of thought and action. In the first phase, Denial, humans involved in high stress events take time to process what they are seeing unfold before them. They try to determine if it is real and whether it is dangerous. The brain asks questions: Is this really happening? What do I do if it is really happening?
If you have convinced yourself you will never be in a crowd when a car comes through it, then Denial will be a very tough phase to work through. It will take longer to determine this is a real event.
In Denial our brains are working to make sense of the reality before them and deciding if they have a pre-programmed, trained response to what they are seeing. Critical seconds can pass, or a failure to move can result in injury or death.
In this scenario, if you follow the crowd and move to help, you are walking toward the danger. If you are frozen in place and trying to figure this out, the threat can come to you.
The brain then shifts to Deliberation: Should I help? If I help, what should I do? Should I run to an injured person? Should I get behind cover? Should I run away? Do I call 911? Again, spending time deliberating a response decreases reaction time, and elongates the Arc of Survival. Deliberation can last long enough to force you into a bad situation. This can also lead to being paralyzed, so you neither run away, nor run toward, you just stay in one place.
Depending on what you have been trained to do, or what you have thought to do in a given situation, this leads to the third stage, Decisive Action.
Think for a moment, how often do you hear of a car running into a crowd of people? Thankfully, this is a rare event, but lately these events have led to the driver exiting his car and stabbing anyone around him.
Knife attacks are deadly enough. What if he has a gun? What if his car is full of explosives? Obviously, running toward the action in an attempt to help may lead to injury or death for you.
What Am I Asking You To Do?
Think. Agree. Act
Upon hearing of a terrorist attack, I have found most people say, “Tsk, Tsk, shameful thing,” then go on about their lives without giving it some thought that one day they could be involved in a serious, life threatening event.
A chance to think of how they would respond in a similar or like circumstance is gone and wasted. At the basic level, I ask you to simply think, “This could happen to me or someone I love. How would I respond?”
Simply agree that something like this could happen. You may one day be present when a car runs into a crowd of people, and you are one of the people still standing after the initial attack. If you agree something like this can happen, then your Arc of Survival becomes smaller, and your time to respond becomes shorter.
What are you prepared to do in the moment? Do you have a responsibility to act? Are you trained in empty hand tactics to disarm a man slashing at a crowd? I’ve received training in how to disarm someone with a knife, but it isn’t something I want to do. I would much rather stay far away from the threat, and come up with plan that creates a barrier.
Are there weapons available to you and are you willing to do what it takes to stop his deadly aggression? A weapon isn’t always a knife or a gun. A car, a brick, a log, a beer bottle can all become weapons if necessary. Simply thinking about it before hand, can result in reacting better in a stressful environment.
Tactical retreat – running away – is always an option. There are no rules saying you have to stay and fight, running away and directing authorities to his exact location with a great description can be extremely helpful in a crowded event. This is not cowardly, this is survival, and a perfectly acceptable option if your life is in danger.
You may have heard the saying, “Only fools rush in.” I agree with this sentiment.
The greatest help you may be to anyone injured in this type of ramming event may be to momentarily seek cover, observe, and alert authorities keeping them informed as to what is happening on the ground.
If you determine after a few minutes of observation (believe me when I tell you this is a hard thing to do) there is no secondary threat, or an armed citizen or police officer has stopped the offender’s aggressive action, then you can move closer and render aid.
Simply thinking about it before hand and pre-planning a response can help you should you ever find yourself having the worst possible day ever and prevent it from your last one.
On March 11, 2017, two Mormon missionaries were minding their own business when two Brazilian thugs drove up on a motorcycle. The back passenger jumped off and stuck a pistol in one of the young men’s gut and demanded money. What happens next is quite impressive.
Acting quickly, the missionary goes on the attack, disarms the thug and sends him to flight. The other robber dismounts from his motorcycle and attempts to get the gun back. The missionary flings the gun up into the area and proceeds to land several incredible blows to his jaw.
As he is man handling the robber, another motorcyclist pulls up and tries to help the missionary. Finally the robber, gets to his feet and begins to run away.
Last week an Ohio State University female student requested a Lyft driver pick her up in front of the Student Center. While she waited at the curb, a vehicle pulled up and she hopped in.
What happened next shocked the student, as the drive began driving the wrong direction, ultimately pulling into an alleyway. She attempted to get out of the car, but the driver groped her body and attempted to keep her from leaving. She fought back and was able to escape by running away.
The student, identified only as Hahna, said she realized she made several mistakes which led to the assault. “There are multiple things I did that put me in a vulnerable situation,” she said.
First, she could have tracked the Lyft driver using the GPS function within the app on her smart phone. Secondly, she could have asked the driver who he was there to pick up, and paid attention to the year, make and model of the car she was entering. Thirdly, the app includes the license plate of the Lyft tags, and a picture of the driver.
She made several statements in her interview that most victims say, “I can’t believe it happened to me.” However, once it did happen she executed a plan to correct her mistakes and is speaking out to help other students avoid becoming a victim of crime.
Things Hahna did right: She was paying enough attention to realize she was in a bad situation. As soon as the car came to a stop, she made an attempt to escape the vehicle. When this didn’t work, she fought hard for her life.
In my view this is a life and death struggle. The crimes perpetrated against her include several violent felonies: kidnapping, gross sexual imposition, and attempted rape.
If she felt her life was in jeopardy, and any reasonable person may assume this, the crimes may have risen to the level of deadly force, as well as any force option below that including blunt force trauma, strikes to disable (eyes, throat), and any empty hand tactics.
Does your school or workplace need a speaker or training?