Archive for October, 2011

When confronted by our worst nightmares, the choices are few. Fight – or Flight? We hope to find the strength to stand against our fears. But sometimes, despite ourselves, we run. What if the nightmare gives chase? Where can we hide then?
Heros, 2007

We all struggle with this issue everyday.  When do we fight and when do we flee?  The decision to do either is not easy.  This is especially true when you are confronted with being a potential crime victim.

When I was teaching Crime Prevention in the Police Department, we always told the audience it was not worth fighting.  “Give up the money, comply with the perp’s demands…..nothing is worth your safety.”  “You will suffer more if you resist.”  But, is this true?

As a Social Scientist, I am amazed at how much information is out there that is not supported by the facts. For example, it is often asserted that most people do not report crimes.  Really?  How do you prove a negative?

So what are the facts about fighting back?

A study examining 733 rapes, 1,278 sexual assaults and 12,235 general assaults on women over a ten-year period revealed that resisting an attempted rape lowered the odds of the perpetrator completing the act by almost two-thirds.  It also found that fighting back increased the likelihood that the victim would be injured and it doubled the likelihood that the victim would suffer serious physical injury (Kleck, G. & Tark, J. 2005). I know this sounds contradictory, but stay with me.

Another study of 3,206 assaults during a three-year period found that women who fought back early in an attack were half as likely to be injured (Thompson Martie, P. et al 2006). See, glad you stayed with me?

Lastly, a study examining federal crime statistics over a ten-year period showed that victims who utilized self- protective techniques (e.g. physically fighting back, pleading) resulted in less injury to the victim than those victims who did not resist (Klack, G. & Tark, J. 2004)

So, what does this all mean?  I know from experience that criminals are lazy cowards.  They want an easy victim and they do not want to suffer any consequences for their actions.  Fighting back creates a consequence for them.  There are plenty of people out there who will not fight back.  The bad guys will look for them.  When you decide that you will not be a victim, that you will fight back, you will act and do things (often unconsciously) that will telegraph to the bad guy you are not the person who will willingly acquiesce.  This, unfortunately, requires you to be willing to suffer a possible consequence also.  The question then is, what are you willing to do?

In my seminars I teach people to look behind them when they hear something that scares them; not to cower and hope that they are wrong.  I teach them to recognize how their minds and bodies innately react to danger so they can access the danger and respond accordingly.  I teach them that they can be free….. free from fear.

This attitude reminds me of a latin phrase I often saw on many of my fellow police officer’s lockers.  It read, “Nemo me impune lacessit.”  Translated it means, “No one attacks me with impunity.”  Good words to live by.