So last night I had dinner with my sister. We stayed out fairly late, and when we walked back to our cars, we walked along a street where there were a small group of men who looked to be up to no good. They fit the typical mugger profile. Hoodies, sitting in front of an office building not doing much of anything. Needless to say they made my SA kick up a notch. That said, not looking for trouble, I continued walking at the pace I was walking at. Did not make eye contact, and did not change my mannerisms to give them the impression that I was concerned.
My sister, however, reacted quite differently. She's been mugged once before, and she immediately picked up her pace and looked visibly nervous about the situation. As we passed, she continued to glance nervously over her shoulder and... From my perspective "showed fear".
Now to be clear, I wasn't ignoring the situation. I knew where they were, I was aware, but the key for me was that I'm of the impression that showing fear in those circumstances can actually bring on an attack, so my goal was to be calm, collected, confident, and not show fear.
Nothing happened, but it struck me how the two of us handled it, and I even mentioned to my sister that she was clearly showing visible fear and that maybe that wasn't a great idea. I wanted to get the forums opinion about whether one should show fear in such a circumstance or try hard to act as if nothing is wrong. Does showing fear.... Visibly accelerating your pace, glancing over your shoulder and so on actually increase the likelihood that an attacker will target you? Do the bad guys smell fear and pick you out as someone who is weak?
It might, so might not making eye contact, your sister was doing what she insticntivly thought would help her escape.
I would have instinctively made eye contact.
Basically a predator is looking for prey and they would rather attack a gazelle (or a sheep but your sister wasn't a sheep, she knew something was wrong) than a wolf
Can't really say what would provoke an attack. I will say if one has not been in her place as a prior victim how they would react. Can't fault a person for acting that way really. I would have made eye contact. Not as a stare down, but I like to know who is around me. I also would have looked back a time or two if I were concerned.
If these guys are "up to no good" they will do what they will do and I personally do not see that anything would change regardless of what your perception is of your sister's fear. SA and any kind of avoidance is the order of the day (cross the street, go back where you came from etal) and if they still respond with an intent to confront by following you, it is time to think about protecting yourself. You did not mention anything about concealed carry. BTW, anyone who is having a grand old time walking and talking and not feeling a pang of concern or fear when the potential for a confrontation is being played out, is either lying or just stupid--that is what SA is all about in the first place---after all why follow SA if everything is just so wonderfully perfect in the world not requiring any concern (which is really an element of fear)..
I make eye contact, and (as habit) give a polite nod to people. In a situation like that, I don't see any reason to act differently.
Not until I have a good reason to act differently. People just being out somewhere (even somewhere they're not technically supposed to be) doesn't necessarily pose a threat.
Great timing on this post. I was talking to a friend of mine and his wife today at lunch about something that occurred one week after I received my CCW permit. I don't call it an "incident" or an "encounter" because nothing really happened, but it has stuck with me and had me thinking. Sit down boys and girls and let Uncle Iggy tell you a little story... (really, it's very innocuous but I ponder things a lot)
One evening shortly after receiving my permit one of our dogs became ill and we needed to take him to the vet. It was 10pm and we'd had the vet paged and he agreed to meet us at the office. The vet's office is 2 miles from our home. We arrived there first and were walking Willie around til the vet arrived. Next door to the vet is a convenience store that was already closed and there were two "young gentlemen" hanging around and were walking around, then sitting in rocking chairs available for customers (imagine being in Mayberry). The guys would get up, walk around some more and were watching us... as I was casually watching them. At one point they seemed to drift our way at which point I handed the leash to my wife and suggested she wander to the other side of the Jeep. I maintained my position and simply watched the guys. They didn't come any closer.
Now, here's my pondering... I'm just an accounting nerd standing 5'9" and 180lbs... I've never been in a fight in my life and have never had a "confrontation", but there I stood, knowing I was armed and showing a position of "strength" if you will. I felt confident knowing I was armed but I wasn't confronting anyone, simply not showing a sign of weakness or fear. Completely different composure I'm sure if I hadn't been armed. I wonder if my body language, etc gave off a signal of some sort. I would say it's possible, maybe even likely. Goes along with what the OP here is asking and referring to.
I firmly believe that BG's prey on those that they consider weak. Showing fear, perhaps enhances the appearance of weakness. Your sister's reactions were based on her past experiences as you are already aware. Unless she has done something in her life to reduce her weaknesses (i.e. obtained CWP), then when presented with that type of scenario, it only makes sense she will remain highly apprehensive of her safety, even with you present.
Now, with that being said, you profiled (rightfully so) and recognized what you perceived as a potential threat. Appearances of the group, actions of the group, etc. YOUR reaction was to ignore them, even tho your SA indicated otherwise. I'm of the opinion, that when disparity of force puts me at a recognized disadvantge, that I can do several things. Turn around and go a different way, cross the street to give yourself tactical space and continue on, or continue past the group as you chose to do.
I don't agree with ignoring the group. I would have looked at them, perhaps given a "nod" of recognition, just letting them know that "I am aware of you and my SA is ramped up". None of us look for trouble, but, ignoring them, to me, is also an indication of "apprehension/fear" (JMO). Being calm, collected, and KNOWING what your reactions would be IF an encounter occurred is of the utmost importance, but don't hesitate to let that quick adrenaline rush work to your advantage either.
I think however, that in a situation where the BG's outnumber you, it doesn't make a hill of beans whether you show confidence or fear, because IF they have targeted you based on having superior numbers, and especially if you have a female to worry about, then it's going to be "game on" regardless of how you are acting. I would rather ramp up to Condition Orange and have to ramp down, than to stay at high yellow and err in my judgement. JMO
I sometimes show fear. But it's usually shown in the form of a loud crack & a bright muzzle flash.:image035:
FWIW, I believe that acting like a victim - in this case, showing fear - can be an invitation to predators. As others have said, bad guys will often do what they're inclined to do, so there are no guarantees. Still, my bet is that your sister would be safer, on the whole, if she doesn't show fear under such circumstances.
I agree with the make eye contact and nod aspect. People who plan on doing something bad will do it, but I think that showing fear could potentially inspire those not initially looking for a victim to think "hey, easy mark right there" and maybe act accordingly. I don't think the look and nod will stop a determined thug, but the opposite may invite them.
First off, I'm glad to hear that nothing happened and you got to the car safely. Other than that, its hard to comment on the situation without more information.
While you were walking down the street was it a downtown type environment, strip-mall, or something else? Approximately how far away was the group of men when you noticed them and how close did you get to them when you passed? Were they on the same side of the street? Where were they in relation to your car?
What I'm getting at is they could have been trying to get you in position to surround you, which could have put you at a tremendous disadvantage and it wouldn't have made much of a difference whether you were showing fear or not.
First Sgt laid it out pretty well so I won't repeat what he already stated.
Originally Posted by First Sgt
You didn't state if you were carrying. If you were; It is important to use your SA to ready yourself to use your weapon. Each situation is going to be different, but you should have been making mental notes of available cover. Especially since in this circumstance you were outnumbered. You had a female with you that required protection.
You can practice SA in your normal everyday movement. When you see a group or person just silently imagine that it might be a BG. Teach yourself to start recogizing an escape route or cover. If you sense danger scan for additional threats. Eye contact and posture are very important but don't over do it.
You did good. Keep working at it. You'll get better the more you use it.
First Sgt covers this well. His last two paragraphs are very good advice.
fear is one of the most basic protection mechanisms that keep us alive. you will regret it if you mistaken my fear as a sign of vulnerability. always be prepared for worst but hope for the best.
I read an article once that talked about this topic. In interviews with bad guys (rapists, muggers, etc) they found out that these people do indeed target their victims based on their behavior. Especially with women they said they looked for women that didn't walk with confidence, and looked like they might not fight back as much. The general advice seemed to be that you should stand tall, walk with confidence, and act as if you have the ability to fight back if required.