I was recently told a story by someone very dear to me who was attacked in broad daylight and in public. Because this enraged me (for obvious reasons, not least of which was the lack of action by onlookers or witnesses), I'm going to spell out in very simple terms how to protect yourself and others if and when you are ever attacked or witness a mugging.
AKA: "Whatever happened to doing the right thing and being a good samaritan?"
The person I know -- I'll call him KickAss -- was minding his own damn business at a local bus stop in Culver City, California. Culver City is a town in West Los Angeles. It is home to a large entertainment industry contingent and a film studio of note. There's an enormous outcropping of boutiques, shops, chic restaurants, brewpubs and fun, interesting places to hang with friends.
KickAss works in Culver City. He was jamming to music on his iPhone (the music was probably turned up to drown out the city noise), when he arrived at the bus stop to catch the 4:45 on a main thoroughfare to meet some friends after work. There were a number of people waiting for the bus, as it was the middle of the day. He noticed a couple of guys sitting on the wall nearby drinking, but didn't think anything of it. The next thing he knew, one of them shoved him on the arm to get his attention and said something to the affect of "What's the matter with you home? I asked you for a cigarette." To which KickAss, a nice guy all around, replied "What? I didn't know you were talking to me."
I don't want to provide inaccurate details here, but what ensued was a very quick escalation to an out-and-out street fight, with these TWO guys trying to take KickAss down. They had him on the ground and were trying to subdue him by any means, kicking, punching, climbing on top of him. One of them had already torn KickAss' new sunglasses from his face and put them in his own pocket, and they both were in the process of trying to take his backpack from him -- which contained some very expensive work related equipment.
Let's stop right here for a moment to peruse the scene to observe what various other onlookers were up to, shall we? There was a gal who in a somewhat aloof manner, simply walked away as fast as she could. There was another guy who ignored what was going on and did nothing. There were a few others there as well. All whom did NOTHING.
Lucky for KickAss, he was able to overpower the dudes, kick one of them in the chest, punch and fight the other down, grab his sunglasses and run before the drunk schmoes knew what hit them.
THOSE ONLOOKERS SUCK.
This situation makes me extremely embarrassed to say I am a human being. Not that all humans are like this all the time, but I must say, stories like this seem to be more often the norm these days, and it is seriously disappointing and disconcerting.
Let's turn this trend toward apathy and fear of doing something around together shall we?
Here are 5 ways you can subdue (or help someone else avoid) a mugger (and make the world a better place in the process):
#1. Unplug your earbuds when you are in public so you can hear what is going on.
I know it's hard to fathom this, but when you are out in public, you are not in your own world. Be prepared to actually engage, look people in the eye and remain distraction-FREE. See this as your chance to actually make some strides in one-to-one human contact! Besides... anyone who's looking to make trouble will see you as an easier target if you are obviously iPod-connected and disengaged from what's going on around you.
#2. Be alert and aware of your surroundings and the people around you. You can never be too careful.
Anytime you are in public or anywhere there is a gathering of people, your position in or around those people is crucial. In a crowd, steer toward the perimeter if there are any characters at all questionable in the midst. Conversely, use the crowd to protect you, or act as a buffer, should you observe shady characters on the outskirts. Think of life as one big airline flight. Know where your nearest exit is at all times, and use it if necessary.
#3. Play defense.
There is a reason they say in sports "defense wins championships." You can't account for everything someone else is going to do, but learning to anticipate moves and learning to control how you handle things can effect the outcome.
If you're trying to subdue a mugger, well, you may have to DEFEND yourself anyway you can. If you are in a crowded place, it may be advisable to FIGHT! Kick, swing, punch, scream... I don't care how you do it, but FIGHT DAMMIT. We've all seen the news footage of the guy who tried to abduct a little girl, but because she fought her little heart out, he gave up (see that footage here. As is the case with KickAss, FIGHTING is sometimes all you can do to subdue your attackers (not always, though... see my last point below to learn why it may not be advisable).
#4. Think ahead and use your head.
To AVOID a mugger, there are other things you can do, such as: a) don't go into dangerous-looking areas alone; b) don't go to those places at NIGHT, especially; c) walk confidently, hold your head high, and when suspicious strangers are on approach, do what you can to avoid them (go into a nearby restaurant, bar, etc.); and d) don't be afraid to ASK for help. If you are walking alone, look for potential helpful businesses or individuals in advance, and ASK, if the unfortunate situation arises.
A concept that's actually a verse in the Bible goes like this: "A soft answer turns away wrath." Proverbs 15:1. I'm not a Bible wielding person, but I remembered this because in truth, if you are ever under attack, the absolute best thing you can do sometimes is to NOT defend yourself (that's what the experts who teach this stuff say). Defending yourself can often make your assailant more aggressive. While this seems to contradict my earlier point, at times there is a case for not defending yourself, as many times these people simply want to dominate someone (let's hope you never face a moment like that).
Finally, be SMART. Don't make stupid moves or decisions you'll regret. Ladies (or guys, I suppose), don't go out in public half naked and alone, where you don't know the crowd. But let's say you find yourself out, you're in skimpy workout clothes and it gets late and dark, and you must walk to your car alone. If someone at your gym or wherever you are can't walk you to your car, call a friend and let them know where you are, proceed with extreme caution and be on alert.
Also, if you are out and see someone engaging in an activity that looks the tiniest bit suspicious, call the authorities! How much more safe would our world be if more people were willing to report strange situations?
#5. Be a human.
This is for you folks who sit on the sidelines and don't get bothered when you see injustice. Maybe you do get bothered, but not enough to actually do anything. If this is you, I don't care what your excuse is. It is not okay to do nothing. Period. If you are witness to an attack or attempted attack, make a phone call, send someone for help, get others around you to help... do SOMETHING... ANYTHING. Otherwise, please leave us now, would you? Because being a human has its privileges, and you're making us look bad.
If you remember nothing else from this post -- and lord knows it was long -- remember this quote from Edmund Burk: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
This article originally appeared on MsCheevious.com