If any crisis in recent history has shown us anything, it's that the world is not a safe place. There are people out there with bad intentions, just waiting for the opportunity to strike.
Perhaps it's someone you go to school with, a relative, or a colleague. Or perhaps it's a complete stranger simply capitalizing on the fact you are not prepared to defend yourself. Because there's a sobering fact I want to share with you. No one else will have your back at all times.
Only you can guarantee that, and it's your job to be prepared. Otherwise you risk getting caught off-guard by the wrong people, and a bad situation immediately takes a turn for the worst.
Over the years I've spent countless hours on self-defense training, martial arts and thousands of rounds sent down the shooting range. And as my girls get older there's a few lessons I've passed down to them that I'd like to share with all of you.
Some of this is very basic, but bear with me, it's important.
Your confidence becomes a shield
Ask any criminal, and you'll quickly learn there are a few key things they look for when choosing a mark. They seek to find victims, people who are vulnerable or appear weak, as they make for an easy target, and a quick score. Your job is to be the opposite of this. Walk with your head held high, and use your confidence as a shield, no matter what you're feeling inside. Just remember, confidence doesn't mean ignorance. Get your eyes off your phone and your headphones out. Pay attention to your surroundings or you risk being caught off guard even if you're walking with confidence.
Your gut deserves to be listened to
Have you ever had the feeling a certain situation was just wrong? It's important to never second-guess yourself when it comes to your instincts, and if you're getting a bad vibe from a particular place or a person, get out of there as fast as you can. Don't worry about embarrassing the people you're with or that you may be overreacting. Most people have a good inner sense of danger, but few actually listen to it. That's a key survival skill, as your gut will usually know something is wrong first. The trick is to learn to listen to it, and be willing to act when something feels off.
Your schedule shouldn't be a routine
When your life is totally predictable, you are painting a target on your back. Of course, it can be difficult to not be at your desk during office hours, or attend certain classes each week, but the trick here is to vary your routine. Use different routes to get to school, don't shop in the same grocery store every week, and be a little more spontaneous in your life. That way if anyone is watching, they won't be able to predict your every move, as you're not doing what they suspect, and it becomes a little harder to catch you unawares.
Your nose shouldn't be in other person's business
I'm a big proponent for sticking up for the little guy, and I'll admit it has got me into trouble on more than one occasion. Twice I've ended up in a hospital bed. If you're in a bad situation, the biggest piece of advice I can give you is to keep your mouth shut and not get involved. People are unpredictable, and if you're stepping in and aggravating a situation further, you'll be the one in their sights. Unless you can end the situation then and there, it's better to keep your nose out of other people's business.
You should know what's going on around you
Otherwise known as situational awareness, this is a technique developed from what is essentially "active" looking. Whenever you enter a room, look around and make note of the people inside, the mood within, and any escape routes. If something looks out of place, pay attention, and plan of what you'll do in case things escalate. By simply thinking about this before it happens, you'll gain vital seconds should chaos erupt around you, like an active shooter walking into a restaurant. The faster you can react, the better your chances of survival.
You're always armed and ready
Whenever you step outside, it's important you've got a means to defend yourself. Hopefully it's a concealed carry firearm alongside the training and means to use it, but at a bare minimum you should know basic self-defensive fighting moves, and be carrying a can of pepper spray. If you notice anyone around you acting suspicious, don't be afraid to get yourself ready, like putting your hand on your gun that's in your handbag, just in case. The faster you're able to brandish your weapon, the quicker you can fight off your attacker
You're practicing good survival techniques
The final step is to be defensive in your life. Lock your car doors once you get in to stop the chances someone else jumps in, install security lights so you've got a well-lit path to your door, and never leave your back door or windows unlocked on your home. I've even made a habit of backing into my driveway, so my car always faces the street. Just in case I ever need to make a quick getaway.
Most bad guys are opportunistic, and if you make it difficult for them to get one over on you, they will move on to an easier target.
In a crisis it's important you're able to not only defend yourself, but you're actively practicing the techniques you can use to stay a little more aware, and a little more prepared. Because the only person you can truly trust with your back is yourself, and if you're not looking out for yourself, who will?