How to Prevent Violence in Your Own Life

Here are answers to some of the more common questions we get at our PSE Workshops (Personal Safety Education),  including practical tips to prevent violence in your life and in the lives of those you love.

1. How can I look more confident?

Lift your posture, walk with attitude and use selective eye contact.  These qualities help you stop looking or feeling like a victim – which is important, because attackers are inherently weak, and target victims. To “walk with attitude” means remembering the ‘P’s’ – posture, purpose, presence and pace. Fitness and state of mind are also important. By working out, you will feel stronger and be stronger. And being as positive as you can will help. Treat obstacles as opportunities. You Are Stronger Than You Think.


2. How can I avoid violence?

You can avoid violence by learning to recognise the “red flags”  – the early warning signs -  which will help you to leave the situation early. Also, developing strong body language and verbal skills to deal with conflict in the early stages will make it less likely you will become a victim.


3. What are the red flags?

People who commit violence generally have a need for control and power. Look for early signs of aggression, anger and over controlling behaviour. Things like constant criticism, extreme jealousy, anger when drunk, and micro managing your life are some of the signs that a person may develop violent behaviour.


4. Is it true that most violence is committed by someone you know?

Yes. IPV or Intimate Partner Violence is the most common form of violence, and most of the victims are women. If you want to avoid violence in your life it is imperative to look for those red flag warning signs early in the relationship, then seriously consider leaving. The best time to get out of an abusive relationship is before you get in one.

                               How To Have Stronger Body Language

5. If I speak up or resist won’t it just make an attacker more angry?

Most studies suggest it is better to speak up and resist. Remember, bullies and attackers are looking for a victim, not a fight. So don’t be a victim and do give them a fight,  by showing you are not an easy target. Resistance also shows bystanders you are in a conflict situation. Don’t worry about the embarrassment. Although there may be times when “playing cool” is the best option, in general – speak up and resist!


6. I’m a smaller woman and I don’t think I can win against a bigger, stronger man. What’s the point in trying?

There have been many cases when women have fought back and got out of a situation. If you don’t resist you generally have much less chance.

Serial rapists rape others to compensate for insecurities and inadequacies – physically, mentally, sexually. Studies suggest serial rapists are often smaller sized men, who actually do not like conflict. The key is use shock: awe and surprise them with verbal, and if necessary physical resistance.


7. If I’m being attacked or harassed on the street, I’ve heard that bystanders don’t want to get involved. So what should I do?

Two psychologists, Latane & Darley, researched bystander apathy and found the reason people don’t get involved is they are confused as to what is going on. If we need help we need to tell them! If you are being harassed or attacked make it crystal clear you don’t know the person. Say to bystanders: “Hey I don’t know this person – and they are hurting me, harassing me etc.”  Also, it helps to direct your request to one person rather than the crowd. For example:  “You in the white shirt, call the Police now.”

                         Why People Don’t Help and What To Do About It

8. If I get into trouble, I might be be embarrassed to call the Police. Should I?

You should absolutely call the police, and call for the Police, as often in crisis situations people forget to. Calling Police, not only scares the attacker, it alerts others to the scene, and shows them it is an urgent criminal matter. Say out loud: Police! Call the Police! Don’t worry about making an unnecessary call to the Police. That’s their job, and your right as a citizen.


9. Do I really need to know PSE (Personal Safety Education) or Self Defence training? Why can’t I just run?

While running is often a good option, personal safety is more complex than that. For a start, most violence is committed by someone you know, often an intimate partner, inside the home. Simply running away may not be the answer – protecting yourself is more about setting boundaries, and how to recognise and respond to the signs of physical and psychological abuse. In a public or street situation running may not be an option, for example if you are trapped in a car or dead end of a road. You don’t have to become a blackbelt – just learn a few basics.


10. What should I do if someone is touching my leg on a crowded train? Is it best to do nothing?

You should speak up! Don’t worry about the embarrassment – embarrass them instead. In the US one woman who this happened to grabbed the hand on her leg, and lifted it up in the air and said: ” Hey, I found this hand on my leg – does is belong to anyone here?” While you may not want to do that, the point is to do something or say something. Here’s why: Firstly -  you are stopping the behaviour (which is assault), secondly – you are showing the “phantom feeler” you are not a victim, and thirdly – you are alerting others that you do not know the person, so they are more likely to help you if you need it. Finally, even though it is scary at the time, you will feel more empowered later on, because you took action.


11. I don’t believe in fighting. I could never actually hit someone. So how can I defend myself.

Fighting is a last resort. As Sun Tzu, the Chinese philosopher said: “To win without fighting is best”. However, you may have to fight one day to save your life. If you think you cannot, what would you do if someone tried to steal your baby from your arms? Would you fight then? Most women say:  “You bet I would!”  And you have the right to.


12. If I have to fight in self defence. What are the best target areas?

Probably the ones you were taught at high school – eyes, groin and throat. If you do decide to hit someone it should be in self defence and as a last resort. The important thing is to do it with full commitment. After all, your life may depend on it.


These topics are covered in our You’re Stronger Than You Think  PSE workshops (Personal Safety Education) – for more information click here.

An Affirmation For Girls


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