“Know your enemy as you know yourself, and you will be successful in one hundred battles.”
*Sun Tzu, The Art of War

There is a dark joke that goes: How do you recognize an incompetent self-defense instructor? He is the one who has never been beaten into a pulp. Ever since I was a baby being beaten, I’ve been a student of violence. Violence is reality: at some point almost everyone is touched by violence, directly or otherwise. This is what I think:

The truth about violence is that this pain will almost always be inflicted upon you by someone that you know, perhaps even trust and love: a family-member, a spouse, a lover; a mentor, a colleague or an acquaintance.

Rather than wandering through life as a paranoid delusional lump or struggle with irrational demophobia, it is better to recognize the perpetrators and their methods prior to their initiating violence, avoiding them if possible, or preparing for them if necessary.

Obviously, a bully with an assumed superiority (particularly one mired in an Alpha/Beta world view) is someone who is likely to add violence to your life, especially if the bully believes that they can avoid or negate the negative consequences of their behavior.

People handicapped by the following traits (especially when combined), they are also potentially perpetrators of violence:

Beware of people who arrogantly assume they can control the actions of other people.

Beware of people that are extremely selfish or have an exaggerated (often “outraged”) sense of entitlement.

Beware of people if they demand instant gratification, and especially if they are addicted to drugs or alcohol.

Never tolerate a mean drunk. A mellow drunk bothers no one; a merry and emphatic drunk can be amusing. A mean drunk will always cause you or others harm. Never diminish your own capabilities in the presence of a mean drunk, or where you can expect one to arrive.

Beware of people if they are unsteady, temper-mental, moody, manipulative, or typically negative. This is especially true if they are prone to throwing violent physical temper-tantrums when denied getting their own way: an escalation from hitting objects to hitting people is virtually inevitable given enough time.

Beware of people if they are insensitive, suffer from an extreme lack of empathy, and usually denigrate others who they perceive as being very different from themselves, or if they habitually slander others with hostile or threatening language or gestures.

Be especially wary of people if they are prone to obsession, and are brooding and vengeful when thwarted.

Be suspicious of people if they are (or were) a participant of a contact sport where violence and aggression are rewarded with applause and acceptance, and be especially wary if this person habitually only measures themselves in terms of their athletic prowess or association.

Be wary of theists (those who believe that god or gods exist), most especially those who worship the God of Abraham (Jewish/Christian/Islamic theists). These people are inherently irrational, and assume anyone who does not believe as they do is not as worthy of life as they are. Many of humanity’s greatest tragedies and conflicts are rooted in theism: the ancient wars and genocide of the Middle East, the Dark Ages, the Inquisitions, the Crusades, the conquests and genocide of many indigenous peoples around the globe, the Witch Trials of Europe and Colonial USA, Anti-Semitism in Europe and the Americas, the “Troubles” in Ireland, the Arab/Israeli Conflict, Islamic Terrorism, and the current conflict in the South West Asia and the Middle East represent an non-exclusive history of theistic violence . On a personal level, theists will wish you the calamity of damnation, and will even attack you if they assume they can sans consequence if they determine you do not share their delusions. This is especially so if you do not accept their irrational justifications of their beliefs. Be cautious around practitioners of Nunjutsu: they typically disguise themselves as large penguins, and secret wooden rods with sharp edges within their flowing robes to use as surprise weapons of offence.

Not only is one most likely to already know the person who will commit violence upon them, this violence is something the aggressor has mentally prepared typically for a very long while: they have already crossed the mental and social barriers which inhibit violence in most people.

Their next step is to “size you up”. Selfish people especially do not wish to be hurt – they need to know that they can “get away with it”, and thwart possible negative repercussions.

They may be a random mugger, looking for their next prey: anyone whose body language advertises “victim”. Or your attacker may be a co-worker, constantly testing your boundaries, checking your reflexes and responses, learning how much they can get away with. They may be a trusted loved one, escalating their use of force against you over a period of time.

An attacker may stalk you quietly for any length of time, or may rush at you with loud hostility all at once, just to see how you respond. Often attackers will attempt to get close to you via a ruse (such as a request of simple help: directions, spare coins, etc.).

The point is: even an attacker who does not “know” you will “size you up”. Most attackers know their victims very well, and have been slowly escalating towards violence for a period of time. Recognizing and responding to their little "tests" with poise and confidence may thwart their attack prior to violence visiting you.

It’s not that some people only hurt the ones the love, they only hurt the ones they “know” they can without suffering negative consequences.

The attacker’s next step is tactical: deciding where, when, and how to assault you. Even the most “impulsive” of attacks are premeditated to some degree, albeit not necessarily in a legal sense.

An attacker that is sure of their physical superiority will likely attempt to corner you. Attackers that outnumber you will likely attempt to surround you. Surprise attacks and ambushes are also frequently used: the idea is for the attacker to overwhelm the prey.

No attacker will de-escalate the violence on their own accord once blood has been shed or blows have been struck. One must fight or flee. Cooperation after the attack has begun will get you hurt, often seriously, as will pleading for assistance: the attacker has usually carefully chosen ground where no one will aid you, either by isolating you, or attacking you where others will not interfere with the assault.

Heed this: an attacker will never willing and wittingly admit to what they have done. Even if presented with overwhelming proof of their guilt, they will ALWAYS find a way to justify their actions (and blame someone else, any one else, in the process - even the victim!).

[This message has been edited by Stealthdozer (edited 09-19-2003).]