When violence may be the better choice
The official view has increasingly been that it is both inappropriate and unwise for a private citizen to use force to defend him- or herself. Indeed, one major church council felt that it was better for a woman to be raped and killed than to kill her attacker. For the government, however, these constraints do not apply, although the conditions under which force may and should be used shift with changes in society.
The Kansas City Regional Police Academy does an exercise in which a trainee rolls up to a warehouse in which a woman is being assaulted. The officer has the choice of waiting for backup or responding to the terrified screams by going in. If the officer waits for backup the victim will certainly be victimized until backup arrives, and possibly killed, which is an inducement to go in. If the office goes in, he (or she), in this scenario, is always killed. The lesson learned is that if there is a choice between waiting a few minutes for backup or not, it is better to wait.
This standard can shift from being a tossup between a single officer dying or a single civilian dying when the numbers go up. Thus, if it is a choice of your dying or 500 children dying the equation changes. Thus, most officers of our acquaintance – admittedly an above-average group in terms of competence and dedication – would be unlikely to leave a school when shooting started, independent of a general department policy on reporting requirements.
For those of us in protective services, it is generally recognized that we are paid to avoid incidents, not deal with them. Indeed, we have often said that as a rule of thumb, we do not carry guns.
And yet, there are times that we, protective services specialists as well as civilians, would be better served in fighting violence with violence. One of the most obvious of these times is when you have nothing to lose. That is to say, if you are under violent attack and face sure death if you do not fight back, then a violent response is surely justified for all save those who have some religious proscription. However, we believe this view is less-widely held than the belief that your moral obligation is to preserve your life, not to let it be taken.
For civilians, if this be the case, you have an obligation to do two things. First, you must make The Decision. The Decision is that you consciously vow that your life—and the lives of your loved ones—is worth fighting for, that you have a right and a moral obligation to defend yourself and your loved ones, and that you are willing to do whatever is necessary to survive a violent confrontation, whether this means submitting if it is appropriate, or harming your assailant if it is necessary.
The second is to commit mentally and physically to being a survivor. Make a firm resolution to do everything within reason to prepare for an assault. If you have never had any contact with violence, this will seem excessive and frightening. But if you plan for it and someday it happens, you will have the mindset for dealing with it and, more important, for surviving it. If it doesn’t happen, it may be because you were prepared, so you lose nothing and may gain in terms of both personal safety and confidence.
So how do you deal with violence? One start would be to read The Seven Steps to Personal Safety.