The Truth about Violence

Author Sam Harris writes about the possibility of violence and how one should respond to it. Real-world crime is different from what we are used to seeing on TV dramas. The article lines out three principles of self-defense, with the overreaching goal being to avoid violence if at all possible.
If someone puts a gun to your head and demands your purse or wallet, hand it over immediately and run. Don’t worry about being shot in the back: If your attacker is going to shoot you for running, he was going to shoot you if you stayed in place, and at point-blank range. By running, you make yourself harder to kill. Any attempt to move you, even by a few feet—backing you off a sidewalk and into an alley, forcing you behind a row of bushes—is unacceptable and should mobilize all your physical and emotional resources.?[8]

If you find yourself in a situation where a predator is trying to control you, the time for listening to instructions and attempting to remain calm has passed. It will get no easier to resist and escape after these first moments. The presence of weapons, the size or number of your attackers—these details are irrelevant. However bad the situation looks, it will only get worse. To hesitate is to put yourself at the mercy of a sociopath. You have no alternative but to explode into action, whatever the risk. Recognizing when this line has been crossed, and committing to escape at any cost, is more important than mastering physical techniques.

Of course, there's a lot more to consider, but you won't have time to think these things through if the situation arises, so read the whole thing and think about it ahead of time. Link -via Metafilter

(Image credit: Flickr user Pensiero)

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> Therefore the very fact that they asked you to hand over your wallet is evidence that they will not shoot so long as you comply with their wishes

Oh please, you only need to turn on the TV to see security camera footage of convenience store employees being shot AFTER opening the cash register. It happens because, in their mind, criminals don't think they'll get caught. How many examples shall I provide... let's start with the 1991 Austin yogurt shop murders and go from there.
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Most situations can be solved by expressing peace and most of all, calmness. Soft tone and reason, a lot of apologies has avoided me of getting a single punch in me nogging. And i have never hit anybody so karma works, right? I'd have a period in my history when there was a serious lifethreat but when even the enemy knows that you're not going to act stupidly, you get a lot of respect. Just be cool. In those times that i had a gun pointed at me, the fact that i was not panicking probably saved me.

And i do concur, when someone tries to make you go to a more secluded area, worse is gonna follow. If they are prepared to make their crime in public, what's stopping them later? Just give the money and run.

Arming yourself is just stupid idea, people rcreate false sense of security so they are taking unnecessary risks early on, when the situation could be avoided.. How many people will give their wallet and run with a gun in their pocket? More likely the thing escalates into a lifethreatening situation for both parties involved.

And then there are the lost fights, then you can do whatever you like. By that i mean there's more than one assailant, you're cornered, ie the situation is lost. Run, hit, bash em with tv sets..
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A lot of the advice relies on the flawd application of logic to real world situations. For example, "If your attacker is going to shoot you for running, he was going to shoot you if you stayed in place, and at point-blank range." Is deeply flawed.

The assumption is that if your assailant would shoot you running away then they would have shot you standing still. Not necessarilly. The person with the gun wants to feel that they are the one who is in control, when you hand over the wallet they feel as if they are in control. If you suddenly run without warning they will feel as if they have lost control of the situation and may shoot to regain control. The gun is their control mechanism.

A more logical way to approach this would be to assume that it is unlikely that s/he would shoot you after you handed over the wallet. If s/he was going to shoot you anyway then why ask you to hand over the wallet in the first place? Why not shoot you and take your wallet? Therefore the very fact that they asked you to hand over your wallet is evidence that they will not shoot so long as you comply with their wishes. Run after handing over your wallet and they may shoot you because they also wanted your car keys or mobile phone.

Second best advice I ever received on self defence was "never do anything to spook a man with a gun". Bear in mind that somebody pointing a gun at you will probably be in an unstable state in the first place and the last thing you want to do is destabilize them further.

The best advice was "don't get into the situation in the first place". I knew somebody who got mugged returning from a restaurant because instead of parking in the 24 hour, brightly lit car park near the restaurant he decided to save a little cash and park in a poorly lit sidestreet. Stay in the light, where you can be seen and where there are people to see you.
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