YOSEMITE NIGHTMARE: A LIFE SAVING LESSON FOR GIRLS AND WOMEN!

HAUNTED BY YOSEMITE – A SURVIVAL LESSON FOR GIRLS AND WOMEN!

Woke up around Oh-Dark Hundred – Hammer for the middle of the night – and, like many, many nights preceding, couldn’t make myself fall back asleep. My brain, I have long suspected, works fine during the day, but, left on its own while I sleep, is a lonely and restless wolf that shambles through every dark recess, kicking over random dendrites, atoms and neurons until all Hell is unleashed and my mind is lit up by some eternal goddammed torch-fire. A Torch-fire that I can not even hope to extinguish until I get myself out of bed and reduce the flotsam my wolf-brain has kicked over to an issue, or a problem, and then solve the bastard. Then and only then can I fall back to sleep.

The issue today – and why I am writing this – has much to do with Survival Skills for Girls and Women. I awoke haunted by a 20/20 story about 4 women who had come to Yosemite National Park soak in the eternal beauty and serenity of the park, all of whom were murdered in the most grisly way by Kerry Stayner (sp?), a handyman employed at the park.

As you may already know, I teach several self defense and survival courses for girls and women, among other courses, throughout the year. Not too long ago I took a temporary leave from teaching these courses because I believed I was failing at getting my messages of survival through to my students.

In short, I am haunted a lot by knowing too much. Knowing that so many of my students, if ever confronted with a man like Kevin Stayner in the same situation, would open their door at 10:30 at night and once confronted with a weapon and the promise that, if you cooperate and do what I say, you will not be hurt, would cooperate, believe the unbelievable, and, of course, die in the most horrible way imaginable.

You see, Stayner looked the part of an All American woodsman. Handsome, articulate. Stayner had watched the women, marked them like a hunter would, and, as he told an interviewer months later, assessed them as “ideal victims – compliant.” At 10:30 P.M., Stayner knocked on the Sang’s (victims’ last names) cabin door and asked to enter in order to “fix something in the bathroom.” At first the women would not open the door, most likely because of common sense. There was no problem in the bathroom, first of all, and, secondly, more likely than not, their gut instincts were screaming out, warning them that the handyman was a stranger, basically, besides, gut instincts are hardly ever wrong!

But, here’s the thing. Nice women will all too often let their upbringing and their socialization override their Gut Instincts (read The Gift of Fear by Gavin DeBecker). So, now, The Handyman was inside the cabin and he pulled out a gun and told the women that they would not be hurt if they did what he said and went along with the program. And, despite the fact that the gun was not loaded and there were three of them in different parts of the room, all three allowed themselves to be duct-taped, and all three watched as the oldest of the three was strangled to death and dragged into the trunk of a car; and then The Handyman returned and forced the next oldest to have sex with him before cutting her throat and tossing her body into the same trunk.
Strayner forced the 14-year old to have sex before gagging her and driving her a couple hours north before torturing the girl, then cutting her throat, too. The gagged girl had pointed at Strayner’s handgun, according to the Handyman, indicating that she wanted him to shoot her instead of using the knife. That’s when her killer informed her that the gun was not even loaded.

THERE ARE VALUABLE LIFE PRESERVING LESSONS HERE. Lessons I hope every reader takes to heart. They are basic and fundamental lessons, too. If any one of them would have been learned and acted upon, I wouldn’t be writing this post.

I ask you to re-read this post up to this point. Use your neo cortex – your Intelligent Brain – and I am sure you will know the lessons before I write them here:

  • When traveling and staying at a hotel or lodge, always stay as close to population.
  • Never open the door for anyone who is not in your staying party, unless in an emergency situation.
  • Use Common Sense. If the person at your door identifies himself as anv employee, always get him to identify himself and verify the worker and the emergency by calling the main office. Takes less than a minute. And, think of this: If one of the victims would have simply said, “Sorry, Kevin, but just to be safe, I am going to call the office to verify you should be here at this hour—“ How long do you think Strayer would have stayed at the door, knowing the office would know he was stalking patrons of the lodge?
    If confronted by a Bad Guy who promises that you will not be harmed if you cooperate, always know that he is lying!v
    In the case of multiple “victims,” always understand that the Bad Guyv is outnumbered and cannot control two or more women by himself. An attack from different directions will most likely confuse him.
  • A deadly weapon is reason for concern, but often a gun or knife is used to gain compliance and to instill fear. There is a chance that instant action on your part will be less dangerous than that weapon being used against you when you are stationery (like being tied up and choked or stabbed)

HERE IS A GREAT, LIFE PRESERVING SURVIVAL TIP. THE LASTv THING THE BAD GUY WANTS IS TO BE DELAYED AT THE INITIAL CRIME SCENE. HE WANTS YOU TO BE QUIET, COMPLIANT, AND EASY TO MOVE TO AN ISOLATED, SECONDARY CRIME SCENE (where, by the way, all 3 were found, over a month later). SO, MAKE AS MUCH NOISE AS POSSIBLE, SCREAM, YELL, DESTROY THE ENVIRONMENT!! THROW FURNITURE THROUGH THE WINDOWS, RUSH HIM, HIDE FROM HIM, WHATEVER IT TAKES!!!!

Stay Safe.

Hammer

PREDICTING WORKPLACE VIOLENCE

PREDICTING WORKPLACE VIOLENCE –

REFLECTING ON THE FORT HOOD TRAGEDY

VIOLENCE in the workplace  has been a major problem in the United States  for decades, but, now, since 9-11, actually, it is getting worse. Exponentially.  Every conceivable type of workplace has been and is impacted by the entire continuum of violence, ranging from verbal intimidation to mass murder.  But. in my opinion, though, since 0845 on 9/11, the dawn of the most pernicious act of workplace violence ever, safety in the workplace has never been so challenged, never been so shaky.  And, again in my opinion, since the world’s (and, of course, ours) economy tanked a few years ago,  injury and death occasioned by worker against worker is a dark, haunting and damn near imminent presence in almost every workplace.

You need not look too far beyond the Fort Hood tragedy where a psychiatric fellow and co-employee turned his insane rage against innocent soldiers and civilians, killing 13 and injuring dozens of others.

Overlooked by many who have studied this and other heinous acts of senseless mayhem is the fact that over 88% of workplace violence could be prevented if warning signs would have been observed and recognized as dangerous, and over 90% could have been avoided if someone had not only observed the impending “Red Flags,” but had actually reported it or them to an (responsible) authority figure.  Course, the problem with statistics such as these fails to reveal why, more often than not, when presented with timely observations, fears and feelings about workers, supervisors, administrators  and suspicious family members (Domestic Violence Spillover is a cogent factor in many catastrophic acts of violence in the workplace) way too many “authority figures and responsible persons” refuse or fail to act decisively in such a way and in such a manner that could prevent acts of violence like we say at Fort Hood!

Now, we can debate and discuss some of the obvious nuances, including but not .limited to the effectiveness of reporting cascading aggression, et al., but what I need to focus on here are some of the Cogent Warning Signs of Impending Violence in the Workplace.

  • CO-EMPLOYEE HAS BEEN VIOLENT IN THE WORKPLACE, OR OUTSIDE THE WORKPLACE IN THE PAST.
  • WORKER IS FASCINATED WITH AND/OR IN POSSESSION OF FIREARMS (which the Fort Hood killer was).
  • WORKER IS OR HAS BEEN A SUBSTANCE ABUSER.
  • THE WORKER HAS KNOWN OR SUSPECTED GRIEVANCES WITH OTHER WORKERS OR THE SYSTEM (which the Fort Hood perpetrator certainly did).
  • THE WORKER HAS A  RIGID, INFLEXIBLE PERSONALITY (which the perpetrator had).
  • THE WORKER CAN OFTEN BE CHARACTERIZED AS HAVING A SAD AND HOPELESS OUTLOOK.
  • WORKER IS CHRONICALLY ANGRY.
  • WORKER MAKES STATEMENTS INDICATIVE OF DEPRESSION.
  • THE WORKER SEEMS TO IDENTIFY WITH PAST SPECTACULAR ACTS OF WORKPLACE VIOLENCE (would the 9/11 attacks qualify?).
  • SEVERAL OR MAN Y CO-WORKERS FEEL DISCOMFORT AROUND THIS WORKER!
  • THIS WORKER DEMONSTRATES SIGNS OF PARANOIA.
  • WORKER HAS BROUGHT WEAPON ON TO THE JOB SITE IN THE PAST.
  • WORKER RECENTLY SHOWS SIGNS OF EXTREME CHANGES IN “NORMAL” BEHAVIOR AND ATTITUDE.
  • THE WORKER IS “HYPER-FOCUSED.”  SHE/HE IS HIGHLY FOCUSED ON THE CONDUCT, BEHAVIOR, COMINGS AND GOINGS OF OTHER WORKERS.  MAY EVEN KEEP A DOSSIER ON OTHERS.

Of course, there are other “signatures of danger” that a future perpetrator of workplace violence might display, but, for the time being, because of time and space constraints, these must suffice.  Allow me one caveat, though.  A civil and peaceful individual may display any one, two, or maybe even three of the above traits, but, in order to adequately “profile a perpetrator, one should look for a cluster of 3 or 4 of these traits.  Key Red Flags, however (I mean really red, red flags) should include:

  • CHRONIC ANGER.
  • CHRONIC DEPRESSION AND HOPELESSNESS.
  • OTHER WORKERS FEEL DISCOMFORT AROUND HIM OR HER.
  • FASCINATION WITH WEAPONS, AND
  • FASCINATION WITH PAST SPECTACULAR ACTS OF WP VIOLENCE.

Stay Safe.

Hammer