Protection in Layers

You just finished your appointment at the hair stylist and as you walk to your car you’re scrolling through your phone. You don’t notice the man walking up behind you. When he grabs your side and tells you to be quiet and follow him to his car. What will you do next? Do you have the tools to keep yourself safe? Have you practiced personal safety procedures before? Do you know how to de-escalate the situation? The questions are simple but the answers require effort on your end. In the article below TBuzz covers 10 ways to de-escalate a situation, along with tools you can carry to keep yourself safe. 

Protection in Layers

When you think about your personal safety or how you might protect the ones you love, what does your plan include? There are many who feel that carrying a firearm is the only tool required. However, there are many other self-defense options available, whether you carry a firearm or not. Consider tools that you are trained to use, capable of using, and proficient in their use. No matter what you decide are the best options for you, train regularly in their deployment and know the consequences of their deployment. Consider adding non-lethal options to your personal protection planning. Just like layers for your home protection, layers for your personal protection are also recommended. Three options for your consideration include verbal judo, tactical pens, and pepper spray. These “tools” are easy to carry, used by most people and serve as effective additions to your self-defense toolbox.

Carry Your Voice

De-escalation is a useful strategy to help defuse a volatile situation. We often forget to use our voice during a threatening encounter. We tend to freeze and do nothing if we haven’t practiced our response plan. Learning to use your words and actions may be just enough to get you to safety. Negative encounters do not have to end with the use of deadly force. Learning to avert a situation by using your words may be what’s needed to clear up any misunderstanding and allow you to safely exit a dangerous situation. Your actions can dictate the next steps. Choose them carefully. Practicing what is called “verbal judo”, using words to prevent, de-escalate or end an attempted assault. It is a way of using words to maintain safety, mentally and emotionally. Your tone and manner matter!

Verbal Judo - Use your voice

According to the Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI), there are 10 de-escalation tips that should be considered when faced with hostile or challenging behavior. The following is from their site.

CPI’s Top 10 De-Escalation Tips

1. Be Empathic and Nonjudgmental

Do not judge or be dismissive of the feelings of the person in distress. Remember that the person’s feelings are real, whether or not you think those feelings are justifiedRespect those feelings, keeping in mind that whatever the person is going through could be the most important event in their life at the moment.

2. Respect Personal Space

Be aware of your position, posture, and proximity when interacting with a person in distress. Allowing personal space shows respect, keeps you safer, and tends to decrease a person’s anxiety. If you must enter someone’s personal space to provide care, explain what you’re doing so the person feels less confused and frightened.

3. Use Nonthreatening Nonverbals

The more a person is in distress, the less they hear your words—and the more they react to your nonverbal communication. Be mindful of your gestures, facial expressions, movements, and tone of voice. Keeping your tone and body language neutral will go a long way toward defusing a situation.

4. Keep Your Emotional Brain in Check

Remain calm, rational, and professional. While you can’t control the person’s behavior, how you respond to their behavior will have a direct effect on whether the situation escalates or defuses. Positive thoughts like “I can handle this” and “I know what to do” will help you maintain your own rationality and calm the person down.

5. Focus on Feelings

Facts are important, but how a person feels is the heart of the matterYet some people have trouble identifying how they feel about what’s happening to them. Watch and listen carefully for the person’s real message. Try saying something like “That must be scary.” Supportive words like these will let the person know that you understand what’s happening—and you may get a positive response.

6. Ignore Challenging Questions

Engaging with people who ask challenging questions is rarely productive. When a person challenges your authority, redirect their attention to the issue at hand. Ignore the challenge, but not the person. Bring their focus back to how you can work together to solve the problem.

7. Set Limits

As a person progresses through a crisis, give them respectful, simple, and reasonable limits. Offer concise and respectful choices and consequences. A person who’s upset may not be able to focus on everything you say. Be clear, speak simply, and offer the positive choice first.

8. Choose Wisely What You Insist Upon

It’s important to be thoughtful in deciding which rules are negotiable and which are not. For example, if a person doesn’t want to shower in the morning, can you allow them to choose the time of day that feels best for them? If you can offer a person options and flexibility, you may be able to avoid unnecessary altercations.

9. Allow Silence for Reflection

We’ve all experienced awkward silences. While it may seem counterintuitive to let moments of silence occur, sometimes it’s the best choice. It can give a person a chance to reflect on what’s happening, and how they need to proceed. Silence can be a powerful communication tool.

10. Allow Time for Decisions

When a person is upset, they may not be able to think clearly. Give them a few moments to think through what you’ve said. A person’s stress rises when they feel rushed. Allowing time brings calm.

Carry a Pepper Spray

Pepper spray is a defensive device, used to temporarily stop a threat and allow the user to escape physical harm from an attacker. The primary effects of pepper spray include involuntary eye closure and irritation, difficulty breathing and burning of the skin. For the best self-defense effect, spray the attacker in the face and eyes. Pepper spray is designed to give you time to get away from an attacker and create space between you and the assailant. Seek a safe location and call the authorities for assistance. The effects of pepper spray vary from person to person, but typically lasts between 15 and 45 minutes. It is always important to know the range of your pepper spray, as it varies across pepper spray brands. Check the expiration of your pepper spray and replace as recommended. Train on the proper use of pepper spray to avoid inadvertently spraying yourself. 

girl using pepper spray

Carry a Tactical Pen

The tactical pen is another option for self-defense and adding a layer to your protection plan. It is a writing instrument that can be used for tactical self-defense purposes. One of the primary advantages of the tactical pen is that it is a functioning ink pen and can be carried in plain sight. It does not appear to be a weapon, but can inflict harm in close quarter attacks. It is a small and easy to carry pain compliance tool that also serves as a multi-tool.

Tactical Pen

Not only is it an ink pen for everyday use and carry, but tactical pen features may also include the following: 

  • a sharp point that can be used to strike an attacker using a jabbing action to eyes or soft tissue areas or joints
  • a blunt end that can be used to break glass
  • a jagged end for gathering DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) or genetic information during an attack
  • crafted from steel or aircraft-grade aluminum useful for self-defense
  • some also include lights or lasers

Find the right protection layers for your lifestyle

There are many other options for layering your protection. Remember you always carry your voice, and follow the de-escellation tips above. Decide if any other personal protection items are right for your lifestyle and train a practice to proficiency.  

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