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Signs of a Potential Victim:
Defying the Hunt

By Meghan Gardner, Director of Guard Up, Inc.

Many of us have those occasional job related trips that take us out of the area, whether that means the state or the country. We pack our bags and leave to catch an early morning flight. Our mind is filled with important details like our flight itinerary, the schedule for the day, lunch with so-and-so, and all the possible variables that might interfere.

One variable we rarely consider, however, is an influence from "The Other Side". This is that part of life that is beyond our own, individual universe. It contains all those things we hear about on the news, but rarely consider for long… because we don't live in that kind of neighborhood or deal with those kinds of people.

Needless to say, it catches us by surprise when we put down our briefcase only long enough to dig out our boarding pass and when we reach down to retrieve it, our fingers grasp at air. Our stomach sinks and our heart skips a beat as we realize that we've been robbed. Right there… in a crowded airport… in front of thousands of eyes that didn't see anything.

We're dumbfounded. We can't believe this. Why did this happen? Disbelief makes way for anger which steps aside for terror as we realize that our Daily Planner, Corporate Documents and even our Credit Cards were in that briefcase. We wander around looking for Security. Our mind fills with a new list of important details. Have to call the office and let them know what happened. Got to cancel the credit cards. What about a police report? Then our stomach sinks again when we hear the boarding call for our flight.

Let's look at it from the viewpoint of the "Other Side" for a moment. We are the predator. The airport is our hunting ground. The prey are any who are oblivious to their surroundings and look like they have something of value. We scan the masses until we find a likely candidate; someone well dressed, traveling alone, and whose mind is otherwise occupied.

Spotting the perfect target, we position ourselves and then watch carefully for the best moment to strike. We are patient. Timing is of the essence. We wait. And wait. And… there. The target has opened wide. We walk by and pluck up the prize without breaking stride. We move smoothly into the flow of traffic, blending with those around us. It's a good twenty seconds before our mark notices the missing briefcase. More than enough time.

How could this whole scenario have been prevented? Well, you might not be able to stop it from occurring, but you can limit the chances of it happening to YOU. The answer is simple: Don't be a desirable target.

The following are attributes of an easy victim:

1) You are unaware of your immediate environment and the people within it. Examples: Reading a magazine at the bus stop, wearing headphones while jogging, talking on the phone while driving.

2) Your posture and body language are submissive in appearance and habit.

Examples: You smile when you are nervous, you don't make eye contact with assertive people, you back away when confronted.

3) Your circumstances put you at a disadvantage.

Examples: Your arms are full with packages, you are injured or disabled, your car is broken down.

4) Your actions result in your losing control of your possessions.

Examples: You put down your suitcases and walk a few steps away, you hang your pocketbook on the back of the chair in a restaurant, or put it on the floor, you try to carry many separate packages, or you leave your briefcase, package or pocketbook on the seat of the car but leave the window open while in city traffic.

Here are ways to address the above attributes:

1) Be aware.

Examples: Scan your environment, take notice of anything unusual and make no assumptions about the safety of a situation.

2) Display confidence and assertiveness.

Examples: If confronted, make direct eye contact, establish personal boundaries and stand firm.

3) Minimize your disadvantages. Maximize (1) and (2)

Examples: Use a shopping cart or ask for assistance from a trusted individual. Be more aware and more assertive to make up for situations that cannot be avoided.

4) Keep your possessions under your control.

Examples: Keep packages or suitcases between your legs when they are on the ground or hold the straps, keep your pocketbook or package on your lap or a briefcase between your legs when in a crowded restaurant, consolidate your possessions (such as packages) to one or two bags or into a suitcase or backpack, when driving in the city of traffic lock the doors and put your purse on the floor under your legs if the passenger window is open.

Remember the mindset from the "Other Side"? A predator always looks for the easy prey. They know their environment. They are confident in their skills. And they will always look for the advantage. Taking on a victim who doesn't give up that advantage is a danger to their success rate. So they would rather wait for someone less risky.

It doesn't take much to discourage a predator. But it does require the dedication of a valuable resource… our mind. We can still run through the list of things to accomplish for the day, our flight itinerary, lunch with so-and-so. But lying just beneath the surface of this thought process is a level of awareness and a simple, yet perceptible streak of confidence. We are sending out the message loud and clear to the predators: Find your lunch somewhere else.

Copyright 1999-2000 ASAP Seminars™,
a Guard Up, Inc. company

Posted with permission of Meghan Gardner and Guard Up, Inc.

About The Author:

Meghan Gardner is the CEO and Instructor Director for Guard Up, Inc., a company that offers programs to companies and organizations in martial arts, Japanese fencing and swordsmanship (Kendo and Iaido), European fencing, boxing and Street Defense. ASAP Seminars, a subsidiary of Guard Up, provides assault prevention training to clients across the country.

Mrs. Gardner is also the founder of the American Martial Way Association, a martial arts system based out of eastern Massachusetts. She has been actively training and teaching in the arts and assault prevention (with a specialty in Knife/Counter-Knife Techniques) for 18 years.

To find more articles of interest, search on one of these keywords:

self defense, personal protection, awarness, body language, confidence, assertiveness

Read more articles by Meghan Gardner

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