Sunday, 9 December 2012

Defence against violence

This post is a follow up to the post on major types of violence.

The non-aggression principle is clear about non initiating violence but it says nothing about responding once violence has already been initiated.

There are basically two opposite defences against violence - submission and assertiveness. They have opposite affect when applied to different types of violence. For example submission is the ideal response to monkey dance but it could cost the victim its life when used as defence against a process predator.

Below defence strategies are recommended by a number of practitioners who look credible to me and whose books I recommended in a previous post (Gavin de Becker, Rory Miller and others).

General approach

All authors on the subject recommend the following three steps:

1. The most effective defence is to avoid dangerous situations. Choose safe routes, go to safe  places, avoid dangerous people, lock the doors, do not stay in abusive relationships. Prevention is effective and cheap.

Surprisingly, many victims either fail to effectively identify or fail to exclude dangerous people from their social networks. This results in the tragic fact that majority of violent crimes in the USA are committed by people the victim knew?

2. If it is too late for prevention, the second best thing is to run away. Do not try to defend your property or dignity or to teach anyone a lesson. Do not wait to see what happens. Do not cooperate by letting someone tie you or move you to a different location.

The video below shows a situation where a victim is too shocked or to confused to leave and thus exposes himself to more violence. Luckily in this case there was no serious damage.

3. If it is impossible to run away then fight. Fighting is worse than prevention and running away because it is risky. In a fight you can loose your life or the ability to enjoy it. If you have to fight be committed to damage the attacker sufficiently to be able to safely escape.

Here is the same advice from Sun Tzu:
Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.

Defence against resource predators

Resource predator is someone who wants to steal you wallet, phone or car.

The defence against resource predators is simple. Give away the resource and run away. Do not defend the property.

Here is a video showing a correct response to resource predation. The man lets the thugs take his car to avoid damage to himself.

This advice is difficult for me to swallow. But I cannot deny the logic - putting your life at risk for the sake of an object is not wise. I think that it only makes sense to violently defend your possessions if your life depends on them. Otherwise it makes more sense to insure against theft instead and to seek justice only once you are safe.

Defence against monkey dance

Monkey dance is a violent social ritual for establishing status.

You are in a monkey dance if you are in an escalating conflict with someone who is disrespectful and if you are being watched by other people.

The defence against monkey dance is to disengage, accept lower status and leave the place. If it is just a monkey dance, the aggressor will not pursue you as he has already proved his dominance. If he does, you are dealing with something more evil.

To leave the monkey dance you can say "I'm sorry, it has been a long day", keep your head down and drop eye contact. Do not be assertive. Here is a perfect example of a correct reaction to monkey dance. The man hides inside his SUV and does not let the other one provoke him.

If you have friends who could devalue you for a withdrawal, find smarter friends because your current ones are a danger to you. With the right friends you will actually gain status by handling such a situation correctly.

Defence against process predators

Process predator'a purpose is to physically harm you. Process violence includes murder, torture, rape.

The best defence is prevention. Avoid dangerous people. Be alert to aggressive behaviours and violent language and stay away from people who engage in it.

If you are attacked, run for your life.

If you cannot escape, the defence against process predators is the opposite to the defence against resource predation and monkey dance. You must be assertive and not cooperate. Do not let them move you to a secondary crime scene. Do not get into a car if they order you to, do not help them tie you up.

One should do everything possible to interrupt the attack. For example if you a being driven away in a car, it is better to crash the car than to let the kidnapping continue. If you decide that there are no other options then fight with all you have.

Similarly, if your home has been invaded by an individual who knew you were inside, run away if you can. If you cannot then fight.

Here is an example of an effective, determined defence against a process predator.

And here is another example.

Defence against group monkey dance

Group monkey dance is when a group attacks one person to establish internal hierarchy based on who can be more violent.

The way to prevent a group monkey dance is not to let the group "other" you. Be perceived as a member of the group, not an outsider. Maintain relationships with other group members. It is sad, but true or pretended conformity is one way to not be "othered".

Again, if you are attacked, run for your life if you can.

Fighting back against a group monkey dance is much more difficult than in any other form of violence because the victim is outnumbered. If there is no other option but to fight, you have to take on the strongest of the attackers first. This way, if you succeed, there is a chance that the rest of the attackers will back up.


The best defence is always prevention. If violence breaks up anyway, in most situations the best approach is to deescalate it. However, if the objective of the attacker is to do physical damage to the victim, the response must be assertiveness and even counterattack.

This shows that one needs to understand which of violence one is dealing with to choose the correct method of defence.

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