Mar 262011

Here’s an interesting story of how a woman fell victim to a rape.

Surprisingly, I’m not citing this to you as an example of something that could have been prevented if the woman was armed; indeed it is unlikely that she could have done anything to save herself if she was armed.  Being as how this was in Britain, there’s no way she could be armed anyway.  But this was, nonetheless, a 100% avoidable rape.

The woman’s own account of how she got trapped by the rapist reveals a classic example of someone who failed to maintain even the slightest amount of situational awareness.  Furthermore, the story also shows how even safe seeming places, and one’s familiar routine, can suddenly transition to the gravest of experiences and the nastiest of outcomes.

In particular, this is what she said

“I don’t remember seeing him on the train. But he had spotted me as a lone female. I was distracted by my mobile phone, I was carrying heavy bags and because the lift was not working at the car park I would soon fall behind the other commuters who got off the same train.

“I was a middle aged woman getting off a train in a statistically safe, pleasant town.

“The offender was behind me on the stairs in the multi-storey car park. I spoke to him on the way up, saying he should have sprinted past me. But he did not pass. I got off at the wrong landing.

“I still didn’t get it. Only when he walked towards me up the exit ramp from another floor of the car park, holding a knife, did I realise I had got it terribly wrong.

Ask yourself the same question – could this happen to me, too?

And in such a situationally unaware situation, even if you were carrying a weapon, there’s no way you could have got to it in time to protect yourself.

The lesson of this story is as simple as it is tragic.  You need to always be aware of your surroundings and the people around you.  You don’t need to be paranoid, but you do need to be prudent.

Perhaps paradoxically, the need to be situationally aware is doubly pressing if you are armed for self defense, because in such a case, you need one, two, maybe even three seconds to be able to draw your weapon (depending on how you carry/conceal it).  If the bad guy gets to you before you have a chance to draw your weapon, you’ll quickly discover than a still holstered firearm is no use at all, and may well end up being taken by the bad guy and used against you.

So for both your own safety, and to prevent firearms falling into the hands of bad guys; if you’re willing to carry, you must accept the responsibility to be aware of your surroundings, and to be appropriately anticipating, rather than inappropriately reacting, to situations as they unfold.

Back to the specific example of the woman referred to here.  She had so many chances to change her behavior, starting from noticing the guy on the train before it stopped, continuing on to allowing herself not to be part of the group of commuters all leaving the train and going to the car park at the same time, extending on to being friendly and exchanging words with her soon to be assailant and not noticing his unusual response, and concluding with getting onto the wrong level in the car park.

The good news is that these are all very simple behaviors to modify, but only if you’re aware of your situation and yourself.

If you Google the phrase ‘color code of situational awareness’ you’ll find a lot of excellent articles about how to have a sliding scale of alertness in your life all the time, easing up and down the scale depending on what is going on around you.  This is one of the better articles – it is lengthy and not very approachable, but force yourself to read it.  My only beef is that it has only four colors – white/yellow/orange/red.  It leaves out the most important level and the biggest decision you have to make – the ultimate condition ‘black’ where you must use possibly deadly force to defend yourself and/or your loved ones.

Then think about the lady who was raped.  She was in condition white, all the time, wasn’t she.  She should have been in condition yellow on the train and once she got off and then the strange behavior of the guy on the car park stairs should have pushed her up to condition orange.

A little situational awareness would have made all the difference, and would have saved her.  It can save you too.

  2 Responses to “Situational Awareness Can Save You”

  1. […] regularly come back to the need for situational awareness.  You want to live most of your life in ‘Condition Yellow’ and try not to be caught […]

  2. […] be a victim.  Don’t be unaware.  Embrace the concept of situational awareness and the multi-level series of awareness levels, and never be surprised when things go bad. Share|  Posted by Clear Thinker on November 8, […]

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