Pain. 3.

In times of trouble, I risk-assess. It stops my brain running around in panicky circles. It forces me to focus on reality instead of obsessing over unlikely possibilities. It reminds me to look for practical solutions. So there I was, weak as a kitten and not half as endearing. Did that mean that I was doomed to be stomped?

I took a long, hard look at the realities of my life, and this is what I found:

  • I live in a rural area, with low crime rates but good access to emergency services.
  • There are no nearby pubs, clubs, football stadiums, mental institutions, or drug clinics.
  • The local village is small and does not attract strangers or passing traffic.
  • I’m too far from the village centre for louts to walk here, and not in a place where anyone has reasons to drive to.
  • The local drug of choice is marijuana, so unless I get into a fight over the last packet of cookies at the local store I don’t see a problem.
  • The risk-reward ratio makes me a poor target for a robbery: I live alone but I have next door neighbours, a house alarm, and loud (though actually useless) large dogs; my house and vehicle are old and cheap.
  • I routinely go to very isolated areas, but I go there with the dogs. Also, the total lack of cover would make an ambush/kidnapping quite tricky.
  • I do not have a fixed routine, so it’s hard to anticipate my movements.
  • I am not in a job that forces me to antagonise people, or makes me a target for criminals.
  • I do not engage in criminal activities, nor associate with anyone who does so.
  • There are a couple of people from my past with axes to grind. However, they are hundreds of miles away.

All in all, the chances of someone specifically targeting me are pretty low. There is always the chance of becoming a random victim, because shit happens. All in all, though, I’m about as safe as I can be given my means and interests. Destroyed back notwithstanding, the level of safety inbuilt into my life is greater than anything I’ve experienced before. This did not happen by accident: I have spent enough time doing stupid and/or dangerous stuff that I know how to avoid it. Making “the right choices” has become a habit.

My self-defence has never really been about the physical skills, anyway. It’s always hinged on recognising, assessing, avoiding and de-escalating situations. With all manners of precautions in place reducing the risk of things going physical, I wasn’t really doing all that badly. Realising that was both a shock and a relief.

What I realised soon afterwards is that the only reason I am comfortable assessing my current safety is because of my past lack of safety. Good, sensible people, like my mum or many of my older customers, share my physical weakness but don’t share my background. Rather than assessing their personal safety based on their individual circumstances, they often just accept whatever they are told by the media, which tend to exaggerate and awfulise. I would hate to live inside their heads.

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