Five Tips to Help You Out of a Potential Crisis
Growing up as an inner-city kid in Los Angeles, I have been no stranger to domestic and street violence.
There were physical altercations with family members, bullets whizzing by my head, and armed assaults. You name it; I probably saw it and/or experienced it.
After college, I enter the world of corporate America and international travel believing I’d by and large be sheltered from a large portion of that violent world. I was wrong.
Instead, I witnessed the occasional fight break out with working “professionals” in bars after work functions. I’ve seen the aftermath of tourists being assaulted at upscale hotels and resorts.
As they say, “The game is the game” and unfortunately, violence may find you.
Even as a guy that stands at 6’4, 220 lbs., I too can still be a target for both armed individuals and men bigger than I am in stature.
This is not lost on me.
Fortunately, I can credit my long streak of staying both safe, uninjured, and alive to applying many safety principles with you.
Here are a few tips for you:
1. Create a “Safety Network of Friends
Choose five of your closest and most reliable friends and create a group text with each other and keep it actively open on your smartphone. If you ever get into a pinch where there is an active shooter or some bar room brawl ramping up, you may not have time to search through your contact list.
Agree on single words that translate to “call me” “send help” or “stand by”.
2. Be Aware of Your Surroundings
It’s generally a good idea to give your surroundings a once-over. Violence doesn’t always announce its presence nor the timing in which it will strike. You want to have key details at the forefront of your mind so you can respond to threats quickly as possible versus planning at ground zero.
Check where the exits are at your venue. Make it a point to see who the attendees are, what businesses are nearby, and also, what can be used to distract an attacker or defend yourself. This may be the chair you’re sitting in or a hot beverage.
If you never have to use any of this, fine, but at least you know some specifics.
3. Quietly Create Your Exit Plan
When it’s clear that the potential threat of danger is growing, refer back to the mental notes you made when observing your surroundings. Maybe you can quietly leave this venue. Maybe you’re isolated and need to factor in how far you need to run and/or if you are athletic enough to scale a fence or run away from this danger.
4. Soften the Outside, But Ready For Battle
At the end of the day, we all want to go home rather than end up in the hospital or even worse, the city morgue. When faced with the threat of violence, larger men like myself and even bigger sometimes take a stance of passiveness to not escalate a situation. I’ve been in bars where much smaller men have been aggressive and hostile towards bigger men, but the bigger guys have often spoken with softer tones and back down simply because it’s not worth it. In your mind, you can ready yourself for a physical confrontation or flee (which I recommend), but some aggressors, they’re looking for that pushback so they can get into the confrontation they want.
You can raise your hands at shoulder level (which is a defensive posture), verbally pacify them (“You’re right. You got it man”) or for women, (“I’m sorry”, “My mistake.”). Less is more. Maybe this person just needs to get aggression out of their system.
5. Follow Your Gut (Intuition)
I liken our brains to supercomputers that sometimes know more than we do on a conscious level.
If something does not feel right, then it probably is not. You do not need to know why beforehand. After all, isn’t it best to wonder if you are right in the comfort of safety versus finding out you were right after a violent episode? Think about it- how many times have we kicked ourselves after attending some event, making a purchase, or accepting an offer when our gut feeling was telling us loud and clear, “Don’t!”?
Imani Kaliid is a Los Angeles native, host of “Survivor Stories: From Pain to Power” (Roku TV, Amazon Fire), author of “There Was Violence” and advocate of victims of violent trauma. Follow him on Twitter: @SurvivorImaniK