True fear is a gift.
Unwarranted fear is a curse.
Learn how to tell the difference
.” – Gavin DeBecker

This Halloween, we are focusing on a universal experience: danger and protection from it. Gavin DeBecker’s best selling book, “The Gift of Fear” highlights how identifying helpful fear is a skill set within our grasp. Knowing what to look for can significantly reduce your chances of becoming a victim.

  1. Perpetrators usually don’t have alternative crimes, they just have alternative victims. What does this mean? You have the option to lower your victim profile. In public places, keep you head up, eyes clear, stay off your phone, shoulders back and make sure you are walking with purpose. Potential perpetrators are constantly scanning the environment for vulnerabilities because they want an easy victim. Make yourself a difficult victim.
  2. Be on the lookout for forced teaming. We know that perpetrators try to befriend their victims, but what are some key indicators they are trying to do this? Consider premature use of the word “we”. Perpetrators may see that you’re on a mission and purport to make your goal, their goal. When offering to help you carry your bags, they may say, “We’ve got to get your groceries to your car.” Your intuition may sense that they are infringing on your personal goal and making it a collective one, but if we’ve been socialised to be “nice”, we may ignore that intuition. Remember this: A stranger stays a stranger until such time as you’ve really gotten to know them– they don’t become a friend just because they identify themselves as one.
  3. Check for body language signals. Individuals who are aggressive will provide signs through their unconscious body language. They may have a jutting chin, staring eyes or flaring nostrils. Escalating language (or road rage) is a signal that, to avoid violence, you must use de-escalation techniques. Don’t risk your safety for the sake of pridefully getting the last word.

Remember, your intuition is available for a reason. Many times, we ignore that sense of unease because we want to assume the best about another person or we fear being labeled as rude. Truth is, the consequences of ignoring our intuition are much greater than a momentary interaction that could be perceived as “unfriendly.” For more information on this topic, check out Gavin DeBecker’s book, “The Gift of Fear.”