• Self-preservation means knowing how to keep yourself safe

    by Donald K. Sanders

    There is terrible news out of Colorado lately. What would motivate a guy to dye his hair orange, walk into a theater, and start shooting everyone he sees. When crimes like this happen, it not only horrifies us, it makes us wonder when and where it will happen again. The sad truth is that it will happen again and it could happen anywhere at any time.

    There is an assault every 17 seconds in the United States! The reality is that 17 – 20 people will be murdered. and another 1,500 will be assaulted, raped, stabbed, shot or beaten every week. What can you do? Do we throw up our hands and surrender ourselves to the will of sociopaths so involved in self-love or self-hate that they resort to violence to feel better? I think not.

    One of the greatest threats to anyone is having a mindset based in denial and the belief that violence will never happen to you. Believe me, it can happen to you. This being said, when it comes to protecting my family and friends, I am dead serious when I say the words, “Protect yourself at all times.” My family hasn’t seen what I’ve seen. When I tell them over and over again to think about self-protection they think I’m being negative and paranoid. I think I’m being prepared, practical and realistic in a violent world.

    Now here is the problem with self-protection. How do you recognize danger and people that are a threat you? Most of these sociopaths look like you and I. They are you and I except for either a biological/neurological error or big mistakes in nurturing and socialization. They blend in very well. They may be fellow students, neighbors, service people; a guy at a bar, coffee shop, grocery store or any one we routinely meet in our days travels and don’t think twice about.

    One individual who was a “stalker-voyeur-burglar-rapist” with a several year crime spree who after being caught, turned out to be a respected fireman. These criminals often learn how to be very disarmingly friendly or charismatic so you let your guard down or don’t notice them. So what do we do?

    Easy! Always be aware of your environment and plan for attack situations. I have said these words over and over to my family and they never seem to listen to what I am saying. I tell them, “If you don’t watch out for yourself, nobody is!” I tell them, “Situational awareness, staying out of bad places and away from bad people, and taking care of your personal security are mostly all that will ever be needed to avoid violence.”

    A predator doesn’t need to have fancy attack methods but they can be mean, brutal and highly aggressive. Against the fellow (average person) who is not fully committed in attacking you or hurting you, little skill or conditioning is needed. Most of the time basic self-defense techniques will suffice. Concentrate on escape and avoidance. Stand and fight only in extreme cases.

    Teach your loved ones to be aware of their actions, to be cognizant of their surroundings, to be proactive in terms of “Not Getting Into Trouble, in the first place.” Tell them to lock doors, secure windows, not leave Rolexes lying about on the dashboard, and how to carry a handbag or rucksack.

    Tell them not to carry anything that they can’t stand to abandon and flee at any moment. Raise their awareness of how clothing affects your ability to fight and flee (and that the flight part is FAR more important to real world personal safety and security than fighting skills.) Tell them hesitation can be deadly.

    For most people, who are not cops, soldiers or otherwise engaged in a job field requiring proximity to and involvement in violent conflict, a few well-trained techniques are all that are necessary — techniques that will be used to resist and escape, not to stand there and fight.

    Your attacker may be armed. You should know how to effectively use cover, concealment and escape tactics to protect yourself from being shot, struck or otherwise attacked! The fact that police officers, who are carrying guns, night sticks and pepper spray, still get attacked, should tell you that weapons mean absolutely nothing to an aggressive nut intent on introducing you to his world of violence.

    The chances of having a skilled fighter attack you anywhere is slim. If you are to engage in personal violence, chances are, things have gone tits-up and all your personal security and safety preparations have failed anyway and you’re going to be fighting for your life. Therein lies the big difference between “self-defense” and “close quarters combat.”

    Against a motivated criminal assailant, who does not care how much he hurts you just as long as he gets paid, things really start to get dicey from there. Believing they are not trained and practiced at what they do is a mistake. They also have far less civilized compunction about doing harm to others. They will also typically be armed in some way. Your need for a combative skill (not the same thing as “martial arts”) just shot up.

    You are allowed to defend yourself within reasonable means and with lethal force if necessary. When it’s all over, you will need to justify why you believed that your life or the life of your family was in jeopardy. Just be sure you’re not using more force than is necessary — it’s strictly business so do not lose your temper, ever!

    A rule that I always live by and learned at a very early age is: Have fun but always be aware of what is going on around you and keep one eye for the everyday living of life and one eye for your personal protection.

    • Being single for the last 25 years I try and always be aware of my surroundings, Donald. Thanks for the advice.

      • Ralph

      • July 30, 2012 at 5:19 am
      • Reply

      Excellent advice Donald. With a background of a military person, I know awareness of your surroundings and those people around you is very important. In todays society, one cannot wander around, fat, dumb and happy, not paying attention, unless you want to become another victim. Even though I am trained in the use of weapons, use of a hand gun is last resort. It is not cowardice nor foolishness to flee if you can. Carry an ear piercing whistle, shout, make a loud noise, and do not wonder around alone at night.
      Keep up the good work brother.

      • Keith Cary

      • July 30, 2012 at 8:51 am
      • Reply


      I like how you addressed this. These horrible acts usually elicit a lot of concern about our society’s problems, laws that need to be passed, etc. This all may be true, but your approach, that being aware of our own personal surroundings is our individual responsibility, this has to be understood by all. We’re used to everything being safe. Our culture is safety conscious to an almost pathological degree. One downside is that our senses may have been dulled. (I’m constantly amazed when driving in the nearby university town that young adults walk out into traffic, never looking up.) When bad things happen they tend to happen very quickly, too quickly for us to act with our usual slow, civilized, considered ways. When things have happened to or around me sometimes my feeling of “this can’t really be happening” has lasted way too long and has jeopardized my safety. — I wish I knew how to better train my reactions. — Many thanks, Keith

    Leave a Comment