The Street Defender, October, 1997
- Your legal rights with respect to self-defense. What can you do to protect yourself and stay within the law? With more crime committed by juveniles and those which are drug related, personal safety becomes a complicated legal issue. The basic rule is that you may use any reasonable force needed to stop the aggressor. You can also use force to prevent an attack if you have a genuine belief that you or those with you are in personal danger. Some of the key words are: personal safety, reasonable force, and genuine belief. Personal safety is justification for using force in self defense. However, using force to protect personal property such as your car, house, garden, is not. Reasonable force means that you should not use excessive force to defend yourself. A firearm against a clenched fist or a stick versus a rude gesture is not reasonable. If you react to a verbal attack with physical force, you have become the attacker! Genuine belief is subjective. You must think like 12 normal, reasonable people (the jury at your civil trial). Could they imagine themselves in genuine danger if they were in your place? You might “condition” yourself in using good judgment with respect to personal safety, reasonable force and a genuine belief you are in danger by simply turning on any prime time TV show. The up side of having so much violence on TV is that you have plenty of practice judging the behaviors of the characters.
- A woman’s attitude and the street. During training classes, we often hear (and wonder ourselves), “Why can’t a woman be more like a man (especially in street defense attitudes)?” Although Rex Harrison in “My Fair Lady” was singing about the virtues of his own bachelorhood, this question can become life threatening on the street. There are more women being trained in street defense that 15 years ago, but they still make up a small percentage of the total female population. Why? 1. Maybe women don’t want to empower themselves through street defense training because society in general frowns on women engaging in combative activities. For example, how do most people react to a woman with boxing gloves, glaring under sweaty brows on the front cover of Sports Illustrated magazine? The question for women readers to this newsletter is why should you care what society (meaning men for the most part) think of taking responsibility for your own survival on the street? Women have risen past male preconceptions in the area of the work place, religion, and family roles, why not self-defense? Women who empower themselves may lose a fight on the street, but they have also decided to not be a victim any longer. 2. A second reason is the stereotype of being trained in a sweaty gym with a bunch of grunting Neanderthals. Although street defense training is not conducted in a gym (rather, it is given on city streets, local parks, or in the home), what if a woman does have to go to a smelly gym to learn? Considering the alternatives, such as living in fear, having your social life limited, or possibly being hurt, it might be worth it. In addition to increases in self-esteem and improved personal safety levels wherever a women goes, perhaps the most enduring result is this: women who take charge of their own personal safety are setting an example to men, other women, and most important of all, to the next generation as they watch and learn from their elders.
- What’s Swoop and Squat? This occurs when a criminal in the car behind swoops in front of you, jams on his brakes, and squats in front of you, leaving you no alternative but to rear-end him. Staged accidents are driving up auto insurance rates, and creating dangerous situations for you. If you are driving alone, in a deserted area of town, there is nothing to stop the criminal from escalating the situation. After all, he already has a crime in mind. Street defense hints include: 1. Watch your rear view mirror when driving. The criminal likes to follow for a period of time, wait until you are between intersections, then swoop and squat in the middle of the block (fewer witnesses to what happened). 2. The criminal will usually have passengers (as witnesses that you were the one to ram them, and they all collect on fraudulent medical claims). 3. Don’t drive a late model expensive car, be middle aged or have an affluent appearance (just kidding); although these street criminals do look for a victim who appears to have money, and be insured. If your intuition tells you that all is not right, you are probably right. Turn on your car’s emergency flashers, slow down to a crawl and sound your horn to get attention. You will be amazed at how quickly the potential danger disappears!
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