Jeffrey Dahmer. Ed Gein. Ted Bundy. "The Killer Clown". "The Zodiac Killer". These names conjure up fear and a shiver up the spine. Fascinating, yet horrible and disturbing. When you read about these guys, the first things that pop up in your head are questions like "why" and "how" did he murder his victims? Then the question comes up of "How do I avoid these kinds of people?".
According to FBI studies, most serial killers and sexual serial killers use some type of vehicle to aide in their attempts to kidnap/murder someone. They also almost always have a "sales pitch". Ted Bundy would wear a cast and ask young women to help him bring books to his car. Jeffrey Dahmer would buy men drinks (which were drugged) and offered to let them sleep at his place. "The Killer Clown" Gacy would offer young people employment, and ask them to meet up at a private location to discuss the job. He also performed shows as a clown to gain peoples trust and get closer to them.
Additional FBI studies show that in almost all cases where a person was forced into a car by a serial killer or kidnapper, they were either severely abused, rap.ed, and more than likely to be killed. This is an important gem of knowledge. This goes to show that compliance isn't always the best way. If you are held up and asked for money by a thief who is armed, often times giving them a few bucks will turn him away. But, in the case of a kidnapper or serial killer, bargaining and complying with his demands will most likely not convince him to let you go. You should only use bargaining as a means of distraction to set-up for an attack and escape.
If you are ever asked to get in the trunk or the car itself by someone who is a stranger, someone who seems very violent, or even if you simply have a bad feeling, it would be in your best interest not to comply. If possible, it is best to turn around and run. If you are being held up by a g.un, kn.ife, or simply being physically pushed into the car, you should do whatever is possible to escape. Fighting a rapist, serial-killer, or kidnapper will give you a much better chance of survival than simply agreeing to his demands. In fact, by complying with him, you are doing exactly what he wants you to do! You are making his conquest that much easier. Thieves who break into homes have one thing in common with kidnappers and serial killers, and that would be "time management". If their operation is taking too long, they may very well choose to abort their plans and escape. The longer a criminal takes with his public crime, the greater the chance is that he will be seen or caught.
By fighting for your life, you may cause the criminal to get nervous and flee. In the case of "Tracy Edwards" ( Jeffrey Dahmers last attempted murder victim), Edwards was able to escape because he fought. Dahmer (a kidnaper, man eater, ra.pist, tort.urer) lured this man in his house and forced him into his bedroom. Dahmer attempted to handcuff him, but was having trouble because Edwards resisted. Dahmer then left Edwards in his bedroom (which was filled with the smell of rotting cor.pses) to retrieve a butchers kni.fe. Edwards then punched Dahmer in the face, kicked him in the stomach and ran out of the apartment and flagged down an officer. If Edwards complied and did what his attacker asked of him, he would have been yet another corpse to add to his collection.
So should we always fight attackers if we are in a dangerous situation? Absolutely not! If you are simply being "held up" for a robbery, just comply and give him money or valuables. You should only fight if you have a very strong feeling that if you don't fight, you could die. If you were in a hostage situation, and the terrorist had already killed numerous captives in the room with you, then you have a reason to believe that he may kil.l you too. So, if he were to approach you, fighting would be a good idea. On the other hand, if you were in a hostage situation (perhaps in a bank), and the terrorist had only made threats, but not kill.ed anyone, then it would be best not to fight and to avoid escalating the situation. When to fight, and when NOT to fight can be tricky. You really have to trust your instincts.
Lets assume that you are being held up with a gun, and the attacker asks you to get into the trunk or passenger seat. Do you really think that he is going to drive you down the street and then let you get out? Why would he let you go when you saw his face? Why would a kidnapper or killer ask you to get in the car with them? Always assess the situation and act on your instinct. Here is another scenario. Lets say you are a young woman who works the night shift. And you are walking to your car, and then you are suddenly held up by knife point. The man says, "walk in that alley over there, and take off all your clothes." At this point, the woman has two options. She can comply or choose not too. If she chooses to comply, she is 99.9% likely to be ra.ped and a high possibility of being killed. Even if she were to beg and plea, the attacker is thankful that the woman complied and made his job easier. Now lets take her other option.
She could also choose not to comply and choose to fight back. There is a good chance the attacker could stab her and she will die anyway. Hopefully, the woman will be able to defend herself, push back the attacker, and make a run for it. If you believe you are going to die anyways, isn't it much more honorable and smarter to go down with a fight? I would think so.
This scenario is very realistic and happens everyday. This scenario also shows why learning some basic self-defense can go a long way. Just by learning some key techniques, you can increase your chance for survival anywhere from 10 to 50%, depending on how much you train, and how you skilled you are at using them. But lets be realistic here. By learning self-defense, whether you increase your chances of survival by 1% or 100%, anything is better than nothing. Learning self-protection techniques doesn't mean you have to become a hardcore martial artist or fighter. Anyone can learn basic survival tactics. And EVERYONE can benefit from these tactics.
Lastly, how can we avoid the situation all together? Here I will comprise a list of tips that will hopefully help out law-abiding citizens to stay safe.
1. Never agree to follow someone to a secluded place or get in the car with someone. I don't care what their excuse is.....DON'T DO IT! If you do choose to help a stranded motorist or someone who asks for assistance, make sure there are a lot of witnesses around, the area is open and well-lit, and if possible grab a friend to accompany you. You always have the right to refuse someone's request. Do not worry about seeming rude or selfish. Your life is more important. On the other hand, you shouldn't be in a constant state of fear and never helping anyone in need. What I am saying is that you should choose who you assist with a careful eye and a healthy skeptical instinct. If you observe and listen to your instinct, you can usually tell when someone is in dyer need or they may have hidden motives.
(Real life example: During my 7th grade year in school, I was walking home one day because I had missed the bus. On the way home, a group of 4 young adults (possibly early high schoolers or late teens) approached me for help. They said that a girl was being rap.ed and they needed help. So, I ran alongside them and they led me to the back side of a church and held me up. They flashed a gun, asked for my money and then they ran. I later learned that one of my classmates had suffered the same fate. He was approached, and the boys had claimed that someone was trying to kill their dog and they needed help saving it. He was also robbed as I was. Eventually the boys were caught by local school officials when they were exposing themselves to female students in public.
This story just goes to show you how common sense and asking yourself questions is the key to survival. When I was approached by the young men, I was asking myself, "why do four guys need help stopping one man?" It didn't seem logical, but I ignored my instinct and paid for it. I learned my lesson as a young man, and have learned many more lessons since then. Learn from my mistake and don't be a victim.)
2. Be skeptical of obsessive chatter. Lets say a guy in a business suit walks up to you and asks for directions for the nearest gas station. Then you gladly assist the man and give him directions. He then replies with a strong "thank you". But, before you can walk off, he starts talking to you about irrelevant things. He starts to chatter about how he ran out of gas, his hopes, dreams, fears, and maybe he even asks you to follow him to a near by establishment to "hang out". This is a clear signal of one or several things. He is either a lame guy trying to pick you up on a date/ or con you into giving him money or he is possibly trying to kidnap and/or possibly commit a violent act against you. If a pedestrian asks for directions, and receives direction from you, he has no right to ask you personal questions about your life, family or any other additional requests. Who does he think he is? He doesn't even know you! If this guy is indeed someone just trying to pick you up on a date, and you choose to give him a chance, exchange numbers and agree to meet up at a VERY public place at a later date. Also have a friend come and pick you up after the date is over, or have someone escort you to your car after the date. Do not go home with someone you barely know.
3. Do not be routine. Lets say everyday you go for a jog down the same road at 12:30 pm sharp seven days a week. And on that street lives a s.ex offender. He may be looking out of his window everyday at 12:30 checking you out, learning your route, and eventually may become obsessed with you. Then, before you know it, you have a maniac cutting you off around the corner trying to grab you. This scenario may sound extreme but it is quite possible. Criminals like people who walk with no confidence, very predictable, and are oblivious to their surroundings.
4. Always carry a w.eapon. Whether its pepper spray, mace, a self-defense key chain, a stick, or even a simple ink pen. Be sure to keep them in a place where you can quickly get a hold of them and use it.
5. Try to let people know where and when you are going somewhere and about how long you will be there. If your wife/husband says that they will be gone for 5 minutes and "be right back", but have failed to return after 3 hours of waiting, and they have not responded to many attempts to reach them by cell-phone, there may be a problem. There is a chance however, that maybe they got side-tracked, and lack courtesy in telling you that they went somewhere else, but do not count on it this. It is better to be safe than sorry. Always assume that a small chance of danger may be present. In kidnap cases, the first 24 hours are crucial. Each day afterward significantly lowers the chance of the missing person being found.
6. Scan the area ahead. If you are walking down a street and see a single person or large group of teenagers/men who seem questionable ( rugged appearance, wearing hoods, sagging pants, etc...) take an alternate route. If you do not have time to take another street, and you suddenly stumble upon a person or group of questionable strangers, simply move to the opposite side of the street, walk tall/confident, look straight ahead and avoid eye-contact. Keep your awareness high and ignore any rude remarks they may say. I know it is quite tempting to curse back at a group of people who yell obscene things at you, (believe me, I would love to knock their lights out!), but it will most likely not be worth it in the end.
7. Always carry a cell phone. Common sense. It can be used to call the police or even used as a make-shift weapon.
8. Do not talk on the phone if you are alone, walking, and in a highly populated area. Your awareness will be much lower than normal.
9. Always carry at least one valuable item with you. If you are held up by a mugger and don't have any valuables to offer, he may think you are testing him and being a "smart a.ss", he may become angered and try to hit you, shoot you, or get more violent. Most thieves just want to quickly obtain a valuable item and get away. Make that happen by having something valuable to quickly give him. Perhaps just by carrying a 10 or 20$ bill with you.
10. Use common sense. Do not walk or hang out in bad areas. Do not hang around people with criminally minded friends, etc. Common sense is the most important of all things. And we often suppress our common sense because we don't want to seem "rude" or we are just too lazy to take alternate routes in life. We would much rather walk through a rough neighborhood to get to our destination 3 minutes faster instead of taking the slightly longer and safer street. You don't have to live a life of paranoia or in fear of constant attack, but it is in your benefit to always have a slight awareness for danger ahead.
There are many tips about being street-safe but these are among some of the most basic ones I can think of. Hopefully they will serve you well. Remember to ALWAYS adhere to these principles and do not be sporadic. Consistency is key!
About the Author: Randy Stroud is based in Nashville Tennessee, and teaches self-defense, seminars and martial arts to the public. He is an outspoken citizen on being open to all ideas, martial arts, personal safety, and improving mental, physical, and spiritual health. For questions, business propositions, or to schedule a class/seminar, he can be contacted at Randyds5@yahoo.com.