Thursday, 14 December 2017

Edition 31 – August September October

Self Defence Tips for Safer Living

By David Jewell

Why would I be a victim?

Victims of crime are just that, victims, and should never blame themselves or wonder what they did wrong or did to deserve some sort of punishment. Although any particular instance is often out of our control there are things that we can consider in order to minimise our risks without locking ourselves away and not having a ‘life’. 

Self Defence is much less about one's ability to fight and more about knowledge of one's self and environment. We are born with a natural instinct for survival and self preservation but in our modern 'civilised' society much of this instinct has been conditioned out of us, particularly in women. The victim is often punished along with the perpetrator, especially as children in school when rules against ‘fighting' often punish the victim as well as the bully. We learn that standing up for ourselves is going to get us into trouble and therefore it is best to do nothing. We become programmed to be victims. Standing up for one's self does not necessarily mean fighting but being assertive or being involved as an onlooker when someone else is being victimised. Prevention is better than cure.

The more likely reasons a person is chosen as a victim are:

Available - you just happened to be around.

Accessible - you were within reach and without help.

Vulnerable - you appeared weaker or defenceless.

Available

The safest place to be when an assault is about to happen is somewhere else. Although assaults often appear to be random they are not totally. The media often makes big headlines about a number of attacks in a particular area indicating that people in these areas are at greater risk. Fights outside hotels and night clubs are a common occurrence and we all know of ‘those places’ to avoid at particular times. Is there a greater risk of assault at a football match or a netball game? Think of a few places that you know are high risk and why they are that way.

Did you think of "the Home"? More violence occurs in the home than elsewhere, yet it gets very little press. Become involved in quelling domestic violence and we will have less violent children. Blessed are the Peacemakers. 

Accessible

It is not practical to lock oneself up at home, we all need to get out and conduct our daily business, going to work, school or shopping and enjoying our leisure time. But we also need to be aware of our surroundings, what you are doing and what those around you are doing. Plan ahead so as to limit your accessibility to danger. For example when you go shopping and intend to follow up with an evening dinner or a film, think about where you park your car so that when you return to it late at night it will be close at hand. This may mean moving it between your shopping and the film. Plan ahead to be safer. Although it is unlikely that anything may go wrong if you don't move the car, you will be less stressed with a short walk back to your car after dark than when you have to wend your way across a poorly lit, half empty car park. You made yourself less accessible to danger through a little forethought. 

As an exercise think about this scenario. You are walking along a poorly lit street between a row of parked cars and building fronts. Where would you walk so that you are least accessible to any potential attacker? Pre-thought, Pre-planned - Prepared! By walking along the footpath facing the on-coming traffic and thus the front of any parked cars, you are better able to look into cars and see if they are occupied. If you come from behind parked cars then it is difficult to see inside but also an occupant can spring open the door which can then act as a trap. By approaching the front of a car, when the door is opened it will be between yourself and the occupant. Should the occupant appear threatening you can turn and run or kick the door closed. You are less accessible and more aware of car occupants when approaching from the front of a vehicle. Don’t be afraid to cross the road or walk back where you came as if you had changed your mind rather than take risks passing a parked car with suspicious occupants.

Vulnerable

Fear expresses itself in our body language, such as downward looking, clutching at our belongings or suddenly changing direction. Develop a confident walk, be erect and looking at your surroundings with a goal in mind, even if it's only the next corner. Hold your belongings in a relaxed but firm grip. With a little practice you will appear more confident and less vulnerable. 

Observe other people and assess their availability, accessibility and vulnerability. Whom could you attack and why? Why do some people appear more vulnerable than others? What habits can you change so as to make you less of a target? Hopefully no-one is still leaving their handbag sitting on top of the shopping trolley! Learn from the mistakes of others and understand what is confident body language and, like an actor, fake it until you make it.

Observation and practice will create new habits that minimise your availability, accessibility and vulnerability, resulting in a more confident ‘you’ that is less likely to become a victim.

About The Foothills

The Foothills magazine is truly appreciated by the local community. It covers business, community and tourisms news, events, local success stories and more. The site features electronic newsletters, feature stories, recipes, photographs and news, all from the Upper Ferntree Gully, Upwey and Tecoma communities.

From the Editor

Welcome to the first of the digital editions of The Foothills community news. Thanks to our wonderful team of volunteers that has put this edition together. Many are long term volunteers who you will have followed over several years and others are new writers inspired by the opportunities of the new digital edition.

We are keen to grow the Foothills with your contributions. If you have a club, a school or an interest that you’d like to tell us about each quarter then please contact me so we can arrange for your own column. We also welcome photos and quick news stories that we can use to update the Foothills between editions. Send those contributions and messages to thefoothills@coonarahouse.org.au.

Thanks and happy reading.

Regards

The Foothills Editor