Strategic Living

March 2008: Dream or Decoy? How do you recognize awareness?

Every self-defense instructor will tell you to be aware. Aware of what?

The basic level, that everyone thinks of right away, is your surroundings. Be aware of who and what's happening around you. 'Nuf said?

Then extend your awareness into yourself, particularly when out in public. Are you daydreaming, planning your current work project, fuming about your spouse's lack of consideration over washing the breakfast dishes? Or maybe you're under the weather, ill, or depressed. If you appear inattentive or distracted you are more likely to be perceived by a potential perp as an easy target.

Next consider "tricks of the trade." Many assailants use verbal ploys and manipulations to cultivate some trust to blindside their target. Awareness of those red flags will go a long way to keeping you safer. A good reading for these red flags is Gavin De Becker's The Gift of Fear (first few chapters).

Now look at social conventions. Years ago sociologist Pauline Bart noted that women who held more traditional female gender roles were less likely to fight off rape attempts. If you're reading this newsletter you probably do not self-select into that group. Still, consider what social conventions could be exploited by planning perpetrators, and how to thwart them.

Finally, look at your dreams and fears. Many people become victims because someone held out an enticing offer as a decoy. Maybe a gift (or a series of gifts) or a solution to a dilemma, something too good to be true. Maybe someone was feeding your self-image as a kind, helpful soul. Each and every one of us needs human connection, and we likewise need to become aware of how the terms of connection are negotiated. Become aware of how your dreams can be used as decoys. Simple, yes. Easy, no.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness (and Prevention) Month.

from Strategic Living News & Views, March 2008

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