How to Survive in Violent and Dangerous Places

We are more vulnerable than we think and it’s usually the simple slip-ups which get us killed.

January 22, 2021

There is a dark side in men which we must all understand and be prepared for.

In my world, it’s the small things that get people killed. It's either didn’t pay attention or they said what they shouldn’t have, or in some cases they apologized too much when they messed up. I believe the world is evil and a dangerous place. And if one takes that for granted, they pay the ultimate price.

In this article is a toolkit which one must have if they are to navigate areas that are known to be violent and volatile.

Uncovering man’s dark side

People’s good side shouldn’t blind us to their potential for despicable evil. And, the need to unleash it on the weak.This point is best shown in arguably the darkest, most horrific passage about human nature ever by Freud:

“…men are not gentle creatures who want to be loved, and who at the most can defend themselves if they are attacked; they are, on the contrary, creatures among whose instinctual endowments is to be reckoned a powerful share of aggressiveness.

As a result, their neighbour for them is not only a potential helper or sexual object but also someone who tempts them to satisfy their aggressiveness on him, to exploit his capacity for work without compensation, to use him sexually without his consent, to seize his possessions, to humiliate him, to cause him pain, to torture and to kill him.

Sigmund Freud - Civilisation and its Discontents.

When you look at the statistics, Freud’s claim doesn’t look so far-fetched.

In South Africa according to the official 2019/20 crime report, on average, 116 women were raped every day. There were 166,720 assaults with the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm. (457 every day). Over 21 022 murders a year to that ally. And, 205,959 house burglaries! The irony here is it seems in South Africa it's more dangerous to be home than outside.

As you can see, there are people, usually normal looking, who don't hesitate to hurt you simply because they can. You probably won’t bump into them every day, but if you ever do, the experience will be ‘life-changing’ to say the least.

Here are the 3 key things you need to be aware of in your preparation.

1. Always be alert

The last thing you want to be regretting that you should have noticed that things were going get bad.

Being alert improves your reflexes to respond just in the nick of time before disaster strikes. Even better, to capitalise on a situation.

Alertness is a skill that’s dying in lots of people. The safety of routines and the assumption that everybody is civilised is our greatest enemy. It makes us stop paying attention to details. Usually when the details that matter finally arise, we either don’t know how to respond or don’t notice them at all. That is when we become easy prey.

Increasing alertness is simple: Focus on what you are doing and how your surrounding is responding to it.

This means observing the little things in people wherever you go. The little adjustments in tone, the wandering eye, and their attitudes towards certain objects. This is also called natural learning, and it takes time to develop.

Natural learning is defined as the process of absorbing the highest number of details you can with minimum cognitive effort. Its like natural process of being able to detect fully what is happening and what to do about it.

Summary: Alertness is the foundation of all survival tactics. Always look for details and avoid working on autopilot.

2. Know Your Relationships

It’s common for people to be unreliable and leave abandon you when you need them the most.

There are 2 categories of relationships which you must always be careful of; with your ego and with your ‘friendlies’.

The ego gives us this very addictive sense of indestructibility and is likely to get us hurt if we don’t adjust its inflated self-image. Quick signals of a big ego are unnecessary inflated emotional response to situations.

When someone supposedly provokes you, are you sure what you are about to say to them or do is ideal? It's best to adopt a humble approach, there is little harm in walking away sometimes. Not every provocation deserves a response.

Secondly, be conscious of your relationships with your friends.

Start looking into what you know about your associates’ weaknesses and blindsides. What shouldn’t they be trusted with. – for example, there are people you should never go drinking with because their behaviour puts you at risk. Or maybe, is the relationship real or you are simply a means to an end which can get discarded anytime when shit hits the fan?

The best way to address these is to observe their behavioural patterns. It all ties back to always being alert. Your interests and fascination in those close to you shouldn’t interfere with what you must observe about them. Compartmentalise and keep your relationships water tight.

Summary: One question should be on your mind: How am I wrong about my first assessment of this person or situation? Apply it first on yourself and others. It can save you a lot of pain.

3. Practice scenario-based defence

Scenario-based defence is set of action strategies one adopts in different situations to achieve certain specific defensive results.

It answers the questions; What do I do when under threat and how to I avoid being cornered or completely harmless?.

When under threat, most people panic and get paralysed giving their assailant all authority. This is what you should aim to avoid. If you can’t fight, then carry something to give you a fighting chance like pepper spray or a taser. Only carry a knife if you know how to use one. – using it is not as easy as most people think and will only increase the brutality of conflict to levels you may not be prepared for.

Scenario-based defence is a technique you must learn from the pros. Take a basic self-defence class and learn the basics. They will take you far.

However, just because you can fight doesn’t mean you should fight. Its best to end the fight before it begins. Physical confrontation should be last resort. Sometimes, that’s exactly what your opponent is hoping for.

In Kwekwe, the home to possibly the most aggressive mining syndicates in Southern Africa, there is a practice called “kupfachura munhu.” (opening up a person).

The syndicates send their weakest member, usually a teenager to provoke a person just to incite a reaction. If the target responds aggressively as expected, then the rest of the gang unleashes hell on him. If he doesn’t, then he is easy meat and they can do as they please. Being alert and being able to defend yourself helps you in such situations.

Your responsibility to yourself is to be alert and harness your skills and know how to control a situation. You must be able to accurately assess if the situation needs cunning politeness, a blind offer of temporary friendship or more extreme measures like a knuckle to the throat.

Summary: Don’t be harmless. The smart thing is to end the fight before it ends you. Know the best defensive option for each scenario.

We are more vulnerable than we think and it’s the simple things that get us killed.

Self-defence is a must but the key is to evade threats all reasonable costs. It all starts with being alert and knowing WTF is going on.

Thank you for reading, I would appreciate your feedback on this article, please let me know what you think or what I missed. If you found it helpful, share with your peers and save a life.