Originally intended for school staff – teachers, administration, and security – here are some time honored tips toward preventing a physical assault in your workplace or in your general surroundings. In my books (my fourth is almost out), a repetitive theme for personal and professional safety is Situation Intelligence. Translation: if you maintain a state of awareness of your surroundings as they mutate and change, you maximize your opportunity to go home in one piece at the end of the day!
How about Perpetrator Body Language? Just as victims (let’s talk about this area in a pursuant post) may transmit body language, the assaultive and/or criminal bad guy often sends us body language that can signal an impending attack. Noticing these signs (I call it the “pre-fight-dance”) can stop an otherwise imminent attack. Let’s look at some of these Red Flags that can allow you to hear a punch coming before the bad guy knows he’s going to throw it.
PALMING. In the context of this post, palming in an act of concealment of a weapon (or contraband). A benign example of this is a student or employee smoking in a restricted area when security walks through. The employee may cup his or her hand to conceal the cigarette. Palming, however, becomes a real threat when the student/employee conceals a weapon until he or she can close in on the intended victim. Remember, an edged weapon is ineffective unless the perpetrator can get inside your PSZ (Personal Safety Zone).
BLADING is a “stance of concern” because it is a body positioning tactic indicative of the concealment of a weapon. Blading is a position whereby the subject’s chest and torso are turned to one side. Maybe a better descriptive term would be a Boxer’s Stance, a worrisome positioning aspect where you can see the rearward shoulder dropped a bit and the attendant arm and hand hanging near or behind the rearward leg (the hand curled into a fist).
More Pre-Assault Dance Moves. Before he or she attacks, you will notice a few other red flags. Such as:
- Sprinter’s Lean – the subject will lean forward just before the attack.
- Changes in Color – Facial coloring will change along with the subject’s state of readiness to attack. Goes from normal to red, from red to pale and from pale to white. If you see pale or white (uncontrollable rage), trust me, dudes or duddettes, get the heck out of Dodge! The blood is leaving the face as his or her emotions escalate. Also, look for tension in the facial structure.
- EYES, EYES, EYES! Be aware of what is happening with the eyes. First, he will look at his or her “target.” Where he wants to punch, slap, grab, kick or stab. Then he will calm down and look away. Trust me on this, friends, he or she WILL look away. Another thing, if he or she is screaming, threatening, cursing at you, he or she will go near-silent here. DO NOT think of this as a sign that he or she has decided NOT to attack! Consider this as “the calm before the storm. This is because your attacker has just decided what he is going to do to you and is gearing up for it emotionally.
- THE TARGET STARE, THE HIATUS, THE SECOND TARGET STARE AND THEN BOOM! That’s the sequence. He will break off the aggressive use of words, look away (hiatus), and then will turn back and issue one last quick target stare, which is your last chance to move, defuse, or penetrate! Seconds later he WILL punch, kick, slap, stab.
- THE THOUSAND YARD STARE. Your tormentor has lost the ability to effectively control his emotions. The result is this long-off look, a blank look that lasts a few seconds. This offers you an opportunity to use words to de-escalate the subject or take other precautions.
- HE WILL SHOVE YOU WITH ONE OR BOTH HANDS/HE WILL “STAB” YOU IN THE CHEST WITH A POINTED FINGER. Especially if you tell the subject to stay back, don’t come any closer, these acts can be considered assaults. Even more, if a student, fellow-worker, supervisor, or other citizen does either of the above, he has entered your PSZ without your consent and is for dead-bang certain about to assault you. All he is doing is testing the waters. If you do not respond correctly, you are basically saying, “Yo, dude, the water’s fine. Come on in!”
- Wondering what to do in these & other scenarios? Look for a future post. I got your back.
Limited time and space here prevents me from going any further. Just remember that the key to safety, survival, and/or preventing an assault in the first place is staying aware. Situational Intelligence.
Verbal Signs of an attack and how to manage these kind of threats in the next post. Until then, please stay safe.