Models of Violence

We understand the complex world we live in by creating models. How we understand violence is no different. Sometimes these models, are based on our own experiences that whilst valuable are somewhat limited, other times they are based on other people’s experiences, and there are other times still where they will have been either created or influence by the media’s reports on aggression and violence. Unfortunately, these models can become outdated, irrelevant and even dangerous, if we are not flexible in our approach to keeping them updated e.g. up until 9/11 every hostages “model”, for dealing with the hijacking of a plane really only included waiting for the authorities to resolve the situation either by negotiations or by force – when the passengers on the third plane destined for the Pentagon, learnt what had happened to the other two planes, they quickly updated their models, and attempted to force their way into the cockpit. If we are to be effective in our solutions, to real-life violence, we must allow our models to accept new and more up-to-date/relevant information, so that they can help us to better understand those situations, we may one day find ourselves in.
One of the first personal safety models that we built for ourselves, was based around the safety rule our parents instructed us with, which was, “don’t get into a car with a stranger.” We were informed as children that, should somebody in a car – or a white van – pull up next to us when we were playing in the park, front yard or garden, and ask us to go with them in their car/van; to see some puppies, kittens etc. on no account were we to get in to the car with them. There are some fears we are born with e.g. loud noises, some we are susceptible such as a fear of heights, and others we learn (such as a fear of snakes, dogs or other animals); many of these fears we learn as children, from our parents – they were our first and primary educators as to what was, and what wasn’t safe in the world. Depending how forcefully, the instruction of not getting into a stranger’s car, was drilled into us, the more or less hardwired, this model, will be for us.
The problem is, this model of a stranger pulling up in their car, and asking us to get in with them, isn’t really relevant for us as adults. Any predator, looking to get us into their car, as adults, is going to use much more surreptitious methods; they know that the model we use, and the rule that we apply, about not getting into a stranger’s car, resembles that which we created in childhood, and so will use it against us. I am going to detail two real life methods that different sexual predators, used to get victims to get into their cars “willingly”. My guess is that if you had interviewed all of the victims beforehand, they would have said that they would never get into a stranger’s car; unfortunately they were probably all working off, an outdated model of violence that had the predator pulling up alongside them and asking for them to get in.
One rapists, MO (Modus Operandi), was to meet his victims online, and set up dinner dates with them. He would go as far as letting the women, pick the restaurant, so as they felt like they were in control of the date – there is a big difference about being in control, and feeling in control. Over the course of the meal he was charming, humorous and nice – it also helped that he was quite good looking. Towards the end of the meal, he would say something along the lines of, “This has been a really good evening I’ve had a great time. It would be a shame to end it just now. Why don’t we go to a bar I know just across town, and
have a drink there?” By this time his date was hoping that he’d ask to see her again, and would want to go to the bar with him (predatory individuals are very skilled at getting us to want what they want). As they were walking out through the parking lot he’d say, “Tell you what let’s take my car, it’s not the easiest place to find, and I can be designated driver.” His date was now in a socially awkward situation, as they had no reason to not accept the ride, other than suggesting that they didn’t feel safe getting in the car with him, and if they offended him they might not get to see him again. Although we don’t know how many women refused his ride, we do know that at least 11 did – all of them getting into a car with a stranger.
Another rapist’s MO was to rear end lone female drivers in areas where mobile phone reception was poor or non-existent. He knew that when people are involved in a car crash, the first thing they do is get out of their car to inspect the damage. He’d be extremely apologetic, admit blame/liability, and keep asking if there was anything he could do to help make it right. His victim would attempt to call a breakdown service, and find that their phone had no signal. This predator would then offer to give them a ride to the next town – after all it was the least they could do in the circumstances. Several of his victims commented that they felt so bad for him, as he was so apologetic, that they felt accepting his lift, might go some way to making him feel better about the whole thing (a skilled social predator can get their victims to want the same things as them). Again all of his victims ended up getting into a car with a stranger.
Firstly, none of this, suggests that those who were victimized were at fault or to blame, however what it does illustrate, is that an out of date model e.g. one developed in childhood, needs to be updated if it is to be effective, as an adult. Often we lose the notion of people as strangers, and cast them in other roles e.g. many people in dating scenarios, see the person they are dealing with as a “date”, rather than as a “stranger”, and skilled predators are adept at exploiting these things. Keeping our models up to date and loose enough to be both flexible and useful, is something that we should look to constantly do. Unfortunately many instructors in the scenarios they create reinforce unrealistic models, by having their students role play, what to do if a stranger in a car pulls up next to them, and asks them to get in. Educating ourselves as to how real-life violence occurs, and developing our models to reflect this, is something that both students and instructors need to do on an on-going basis.


About the Author:

Gershon Ben Keren has been training in Krav Maga since 1994 in both Israel and Europe. He holds a 3rd Degree Black Belt in Krav Maga in Israel, where he also received his teaching certification. He has been trained by some of the IDF's (Israeli Defense Forces) most experienced and respected Krav Maga instructors. In December 2011, he was inducted into the "Museum of Israeli Martial Arts" at the Israeli Martial Arts Center in Herzilya. He has taught Krav Maga to civilians, security personnel, law enforcement agencies, and to members of elite military units and Special Forces. He also holds a 2nd Degree Black Belt in Judo and has won regional and national titles in Judo tournaments.

He has a Master's Degree in Psychology, with particular reference to violence and aggressive behavior, and incorporates this knowledge into the reality based self-defense training that he provides. He lives and teaches Krav Maga in Boston, running Krav Maga Yashir Boston.

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