We have talked, some, about situational preparedness in another post. Now, I want to explain a little about some of the things you should try first before even drawing your weapon. Lawyers and Law Enforcement will tell you: Do not draw your weapon unless you mean to use it. In other words, deadly force should be your last resort.
Here, I want to talk about De-escalation—particularly focusing on using your voice in self-defense. Being able to clearly communicate to a stranger you may encounter can easily de-escalate a situation before anything bad happens—and can help in the aftermath, if something happens.
When we think about how we talk to a potential threat, there are two things we want to achieve.
First, we want to articulate the behavior we demand from the threat. Second, We want any witnesses to understand that we are the good-guy (and to get a witness’s attention)
Remember: we don’t know situations or people (they are strangers after all) thoroughly. So we want to keep our wits about us, and stay in Yellow, as we discussed in my previous situational awareness post. If someone approaches you, and you get that creeping feeling up your legs, you need to pay attention to your surrounding immediately. Is this person alone? Who is behind you, or behind them? Keep your eyes open and remember the following.
- Don’t be insulting or challenge them. Calling a stranger a “low-life” isn’t good manners anyway. Simply say something like “stay away from me.” Saying, “you wouldn’t dare” and the like would be considered a challenge.
- Keep your words clear and simple. Use a calm but firm tone stating, “you can stop right there,” using your body language to show them you are serious but pose no threat.
- If the threat escalates the situation, then you should use matching force; such as using a solid “get back!” if they press closer.
The reason to use these simple, clear phrases is to avoid phrases that sound criminal. Remember: you want to be clear to witnesses and to the threat, that you are the good guy/girl. Plus, which would you rather witnesses tell police (if the situation escalates where you must use lethal force) that you said, “get back” or “don’t move?”
Just keep these in mind and remember that your voice is one of your first tools in de-escalation.
Before this post, did you ever consider your voice a self-defense tool?