By John Graden

When you are driving down the road and you see a police car parked in the median, what is the natural reaction? Hopefully, it’s checking your speed and slowing down. There is no way to know how many accidents and speeding tickets have been avoided due to the police car’s presence because prevention is invisible.

The best self-defense skills are developing the habits that prevent or deter an attack from starting or escalating.

  1. Emotional Fitness

    Can you imagine how many people are in jail, dead, or permanently injured because they could not wait for 5-seconds for the car in front to move? Road rage is just one example of people consciously deciding to escalate a harmless situation into a potentially deadly encounter. Your ability to contain your emotions is not only wise for your own safety, but also for your quality of life and those around you. No one is pushing your buttons. No one has an emotional remote control that has an anger button with your name on it. Only you can control your emotions. Learn to breathe, relax your shoulders, and remain calm.

  2. Lock and Relocate

    Think about what a bad guy wants. He may want your body for his perversions or your possessions and money. He wants an easy target who is not paying attention and will not fight back. So what do most people do when they get in their car? Check email. Check texts. Check social media. Your car is a confined trap. Bad guys know when you are in your car, you’re stocked with what he wants. He knows he can quickly escape or forcibly relocate you. As soon as you get into your car, lock the doors and relocate, especially in a bank parking lot with an ATM. An ATM is like the pond in the jungle. The lions know the deer will show up for water just like you showing up for cash at the ATM. As soon as you get in your vehicle, lock and relocate.

  3. Why Choose Senseless?

    What could be an easier target to sneak up on than someone who can’t hear or see? Why then would you insert earbuds and turn on music and keep your head down looking at your phone screen? That robs you of your two most important senses for safety. Keep your head up and use just one earbud when you are around other people. Keep your attention at 10 and 2.

  4. Broadcasting Your Plans

    Before you went out that night you posted on your social media, “Going out with the girls for happy hour at XYZ Bar and Grill. Going to have some fun!!” Guess what? A lifetime criminal you have never met is one of your social media friends. He reads all of your posts, knows your likes and dislikes, what you look like, your birth sign, where you live, that you’re single, and tonight he knows when and where you will be. It was all too easy, and the end of the story can play out in a variety of different ways, none of which are good for you.

  5. Chain of Custody Drink

    You’re out with your friends and meet up with a few other people. Someone offers you a drink, which you accept. You fall asleep on the couch. Now you can’t find your wallet and there are embarrassing social media pictures of you passed out on the couch. It’s way too easy for someone to crush a Tylenol PM or a narcotic into your drink. Unless you are at a restaurant/bar, always pour your own drink and keep it in your 10 and 2 at all times.

  6. Control Your Commute

    Anytime you ride with another driver, they are in control of your immediate situation. They control where you are going. They may be under the influence and you don’t know what their intentions are. This is especially important at night. Most attacks are by someone the victim already knows. Always have an Uber or Lyft account or prepaid card. Have the app downloaded and ready to use.

  7. Three Exit Strategies

If you’re in a situation you need to get out of without confrontation or suspicion, have some rehearsed phrases you can use as an exit ploy. For instance:

“I have to pick up my mom/dad/sibling from a school/ work/family event and I can’t be late. I totally forgot.”

“I told my friend, ______, I would meet him/her in 15 minutes. I found his/her credit card he/she lost in my car/ house.”

“I was supposed to be home 20 minutes ago so I am already late. My fault, I totally forgot.”

If you can’t use a driving service, have an established code to tell your parents or friends that you need them to come and get you fast in situations where your call may be overheard. For instance, you call and say, “I Hope Everyone Likes Pizza.” The letters spell H-E-L-P.

Finally, always know of exits. When you arrive at a restaurant or a new place, excuse yourself to the restroom in order to check the place out, find the exits, and look for any potential dangers, like a table of intoxicated people. Remember, prevention is invisible, so the best self-defense skills are developing safe habits.