SEPTEMBER 22, 2022 – When concerned for their safety on the streets, many people resort to typical solutions. Taking up martial arts lessons and Googling tips on how to avoid being assaulted are common methods that people resort to when it comes to self-defense.
Martial arts techniques are a great way to boost your confidence. However, it’s important to be just as mentally prepared and ready with certain situational awareness to help you react as quickly as you can.
That’s why it’s very important to know and be alert in the face of danger when you’re going to be physically attacked, sexually assaulted, and/or potentially mugged in a dark alley.
It’s important to know the main signs to look for and to figure out when danger is imminent on the streets.
Before we begin, it’s worth noting that we’ll be talking about dealing with human assailants, not animals. The rule book will probably be a bit different for the latter.
Having said that, here are the top 7 crucial signs that you’re going to get attacked.
Sometimes body language tells you what you need to know. A potential assailant’s movements, eye contact duration, body posture, pacing, and positioning are all tell-tale indicators of their intentions.
For instance, some may stand in your way squarely in a neutral position, and they usually don’t pose a threat. However, when they stand in wait for you in a sideways position as you approach them, this means they are poised to attack.
If their feet are apart in an aggressive manner, with one foot back and the other forward, in contrast to a neutral stance with both feet parallelly planted, being alert is more than warranted.
This “fighting stance” coupled with nervous pacing allows them to act quickly and maybe even use a bladed weapon, so be very careful.
We did kind of grab the bull by the horns with the first one, so let’s scale things back a bit with a very straightforward question (and answer). Is that person following me?
Well, if they match or exceed your pace, it’s usually a bad sign. If you can help it, change directions and/or cross the street. If they’re still after you, you can surmise that you’re in danger.
Your best bet then is to go toward a crowded area or immediately call 911.
There are certain “micro-expressions” in a person’s face—quick and fading emotional indicators that can easily tip off a person’s intent.
Look for clenched teeth and jaw muscles, nervous lip pursing, or even “calm” eyes that are fixed at your position. Do not ignore these signs, no matter how small they are.
Speaking of eyes, most people make sudden constant eye contact when walking past you, and this is normal.
However, be aware of the constant glare you might get from a potential threat. The term here is “target glance” and it gives away an assailant’s preoccupation with a certain area or a person.
The assailant will look at you in three different ways: directly at you, through you, or behind your path.
- If a threat is looking directly at you for prolonged periods, chances are they have malicious intent.
- If they are looking through you, the person might try to fool you that they are staring at somebody behind you, instead of yourself. This is to cause a distraction and to catch you off-guard. On the off-chance, they might also be distracted, so this manner of looking is not as telling as the previous one.
- On the other hand, if they are glancing past your path or around you rapidly, this should definitely also raise concern, especially if they’re a group of people rather than an individual. The constant glance exchange as they walk towards you could mean that they’re evaluating your weaknesses, looking for potential escape routes, or looking for other people. This behavior, though, is the easiest to detect since it’s a group of people in question, so you’ll have no trouble noticing if you’re being targeted.
In today’s social-media-driven society, you’ll come across those who would try to spark violence and record you on camera just to use it against you in a lawsuit.
Most of these potential attackers would use verbal harassment to the level where they would just try to push your buttons and make money out of you.
Remain calm, collected, and do not involve yourself in the exchange. These harassers work in groups, and there’s a chance that there might be more than one.
Additionally, the same could be said about drunks, or any “agitators,” really. If a person is overly vocal and demeaning toward you, the chances that it’s just banter are slim and they’re more than likely trying to pick a fight. Remain calm, confront them with a collected demeanor, and try to diffuse the situation.
The assailant’s hands are also a nice giveaway for potential threats.
Look for the “clutching hand,” because pre-fight adrenaline causes muscles to bulge and fists to open and close.
This usually occurs two meters before you meet face to face, and it’s a very difficult sign to spot but still an important indicator.
Potential assailants can be seemingly courteous folk that come out of nowhere asking you the time.
This is a very uncreative and lazy way to mug someone and catch them off-guard. Let’s be serious—everyone has a clock on their phones.
However, the less obvious sort are the ones that ask you for directions.
Give them directions from a distance and be prepared to defend yourself if they try any funny business.
Training martial arts, for instance, is always a good idea, and I absolutely recommend you take up lessons if you feel that you’re constantly in danger. But, you must remember that avoidance is the best defense.
Remaining as vigilant as possible makes a difference between arriving home safely and getting seriously injured in a street assault.
- Remain calm, but vigilant;
- Walk confidently and remain aware of your surroundings;
- Stay in well-lit and well-populated streets;
- Plan an escape route;
- Do not wear your earphones;
- Do not stare at your phone;
- Inform passersby if you believe you’re being followed;
- Be ready to fight back and/or flee.
These are very important aspects of self-defense, especially when around dimly-lit streets and other high-threat areas in which the crime rate is high.
In a physical altercation, situational awareness is a valuable asset that gives you time to react and offers the opportunity to fight back in order to avoid being physically assaulted or robbed.
We’re a long way from living in a carefree society where our wallets and handbags could reach the point where they become unstealable, GPS-tracked possessions.
For now, we have only the essential tools, mindsets, and preparation techniques to help us protect ourselves to avoid an assault or mugging. Some even choose to conceal and carry to protect themselves.
Once again, avoidance and situational awareness are the prime aspects of your safety on the streets.
Avoiding confrontation in dark and desolate areas, verbally diffusing intoxicated would-be assailants, taking cabs at night, and carrying pepper spray are some of the many ways you can protect yourself.
When you do come across trouble, you need to remember these tell-tale signs of imminent mugging or harassment and try to practice awareness on the streets.
Being physically and mentally prepared at the right time means a difference between sustaining injuries and escaping scot-free.