How Safe are you?
involve disgruntle family members or acts of violence from others they know. We know that it is more common to end up in a violent encounter with someone we know rather than a stranger. This leaves the question just how safe are you from violent crimes? In this article we are going to look at how often violent attacks happen, how often Americans are faced the possibility of a violent encounter, and how long it takes to get help in those circumstances.
As Americans we are generally safer from the violence that happens in other countries. We have a system of laws that is meant to punish those who would commit acts of random violence. We also have a system that discourages criminals from being able to use law enforcement as their own personal bodyguards. That does not mean things like this haven’t happened in the past and that individuals are not still corruptible. It just means that because of checks and balances put in place we tend to have a lower corruption rate than some of the other countries around the world.
As Americans we often have a false sense of security when it comes to how protected we really are. Many times, I have witnessed people blame the victims for being attacked or worse try to make hero’s out of the attackers. Because of our false sense of security, we tend to blame people’s lifestyles as a reason for a violent encounter. Which allows them to answer the question of how safe are you? With a solid answer of very safe, and yet people are still attacked everyday in this great nation. Violent crimes happen everyday and while often see them as a number. The truth is violent crimes can happen to anyone.
How Often Do Violent Crimes Happen?
Just how often are these violent crimes happening in the U.S.? According to the FBI 1,203,808 violent crimes occurred nationwide in 2019. Considering the overall population of over 300 million that number appears to be pretty low. That’s only 1.2 million violent crimes in a single year nationwide, which would suggest that the majority of Americans are safe. That means the odds of being in a violent encounter were low in 2019. Of course, the numbers for 2020 are not in yet and I would expect that number to be higher this year.
That is of course based on what we have seen in the media. It is our sense of security that allows us to generally feel that we are safe and violent crimes only happen to other people. That is until you really start to look at what that means. If the numbers stay at the rate, they were in 2019, in 10 years that will be 12 million violent crimes, 24 million in 20 years, and what about over a person’s lifetime? If you look at the possibility of being involved in a violent crime over your lifetime. Then it changes your odds, and means you are more likely to be involved in a violent crime at some point in your life.
Keeping in mind that a single violent crime does not mean a single victim or a single attacker. Many times when something makes the news there is more than one victim. Let’s not forget you could dedicate an entire news channel to violent encounters. The media does not have the time to report every single violent encounter that happens. To avoid widespread fear, they also avoid the details of most crimes and often don’t follow up on the results. Knowing that now ask yourself, how safe are you? Do you feel more confident or less confident? Let’s break this down, even more, to see what they consider a violent crime.
Types of Violent Crimes
We know that not all crimes are considered violent. In fact, most crimes are property crimes. That is probably why States don’t allow deadly force when protecting property. Keep in mind I said deadly force, many states will allow you to use force to protect your property just not deadly force. According to the FBI, a violent crime occurs every 24.6 seconds. Those crimes include murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Any guess on which one of those happens the most often? If you said aggravated assault you were right.
An aggravated assault is defined as an unlawful attack by one person upon another for the purpose of inflicting severe or aggravated bodily injury. There is a new aggravated assault every 39 seconds in the U.S. and only 52.3% of those are ever solved according to the FBI. While it is easy to think of a violent encounter of a person letting you know in some way that you are about to be attacked, very similar to a fight at school. The truth is most attacks are ambush types attack. Meaning that you will likely not see it coming and you will be forced to deal with it after the attack begins. Leaving the ongoing question of how safe are you really? Although aggravated assault can happen to anyone of us. So can the other violent encounters as well
There is a murder every 30 minutes, a rape every 3.9 minutes, and a robbery every 1.7 minutes. With robbery typically having the lowest physical damage, at least if the person just hands over what is being asked. Keeping in mind every one of those violent crimes leaves behind a victim that thought it wouldn’t happen to them. No one runs into a situation with the intent of becoming a victim of a violent crime. They normally do something repeatedly with no problems long before they become a victim of a violent encounter. Of course, there are factors that minimize your risk, which we will look at some of next.
How to Lower Your Chances of Being A Victim
We know how likely we are to be a victim of a violent encounter. Let’s look at things we can do to lower the odds of becoming a victim. The first thing we can do is practice good situational awareness. It is not enough to look around, we must see, hear, smell, and feel everything that is going on. Col Jeff Cooper introduced us to the color codes of awareness, white, yellow, orange, and red. White being completely unaware, yellow being alert, orange being you recognized a problem, and red you are forced to react to a problem. No person should ever be in condition white. You can learn more about situational awareness in the USCCA Concealed Carry & Home Defense course online or in instructor-led courses that many of us teach.
There is also conflict avoidance, which will help you to avoid many of the violent encounters with strangers and people you know. The key to conflict-avoidance is learning to recognize the situation you are in at the time. Where situational awareness can help to avoid being selected as a victim. Conflict avoidance will help you to recognize that a situation is starting to get out of hand. This allows you to either leave this situation or attempt to de-escalate it before it gets to violence. For example, a conversation where voices start to raise in anger. Is it crucial that you get your point across at any cost or is it better to cool the conversation down? You may find the only solution is to leave in order to avoid a violent encounter.
Only you can answer that for yourself. We have all seen many of the “Karen” videos circulating the internet. Generally, it is one calm person dealing with an irate person who is trying to force their views onto someone else. The Karen in the videos usually get away with their tirade and later are shamed on the internet. The problem is a Karen has increased odds of being in a violent encounter by a great deal, and possibly even becoming the victim of more than one violent encounter in his/her lifetime. So, how safe are you really? That depends on your habits and abilities to recognize you are in a dangerous situation.
Forming Good Habits
In order to form good habits, you must be willing to take the long road. Meaning if your car is parked near an alley. Instead of taking a short cut through the alley. Walk around the block and stay in public view. Make sure you park under or near good lighting at night. Don’t walk alone to your vehicle, if waiting a few minutes means walking out with someone else, wait. Don’t walk close to the wall when approaching a corner. Put yourself in a situation so that you can see around the corner before you get right up to it.
When walking into a room scan it first. Find the exits, find any cover, barriers, and concealments that can protect you if something goes wrong. Try to stick with a buddy system whenever possible. Always try to stay alert, even at home. When in public, don’t allow yourself to look like a victim. Stay off your phone unless it is an absolute emergency. The minute you look down at a phone is the minute you become an easy victim. Many times, after someone has become a victim, they then decide they want to carry some sort of protection. Never stopping to realize that even a firearm can’t protect you if you don’t give yourself time to get to it.
The only way to guarantee your survival of any violent encounter is to not be in it, to begin with. If you truly want to avoid violent encounters and to increase your odds of surviving. You can only do it through steady training, this is not something you can take a class for and then stop practicing what you have learned. Criminals are looking for easy victims, they don’t want to fight and prove how strong they are. They want to catch you off guard and force you to react to them, giving them the upper hand in what happens. Knowing all of this, do you still answer the question of how safe are you the same way? Or do you feel you have areas to improve on yet?
In the nation, the average police response time is 10 minutes. Of course, this is likely lower in certain areas. For example, a high crime area will have a lot faster response time than a rural area where it might take 15 minutes to drive there. Meaning it will take minutes for help to arrive when most attack only last seconds. Because America is not a country that deals with many of the hardships that happen around the world. We allow ourselves to fall victim to having a false sense of security. Our civilized demeanors have allowed us to avoid guerrilla warfare, civil war, large-scale genocide, and other hardships that plague a lot of countries.
We generally trust most of our police officers. We have laws that give us a feeling that if we can legally do then it is ok to do. When in fact at one time it wasn’t illegal for someone to record you in your own home. Because someone exploited that, a new law was made to punish it in the future. Our laws in this great nation are not preventative but instead, they are punitive. Meaning they don’t stop crimes, they are meant to punish people after the fact, at least some of the time anyway. Our society finds certain crimes unacceptable while finding others normal. For example, murder a family out of rage and you’re a monster. Murder a family drinking and driving, and you simply made a mistake.
It is up to every American citizen to protect themselves first and to let the police know after they have reached safety. Our police are taught to investigate crimes for a reason. While it would be great if someone was always there to protect us from becoming a victim or if somehow, we knew in advance to stop the person. The truth is we can’t even count on people helping us if they are standing there when it happens. Most people will pull out their phones to record an event without ever thinking about dialing 911 to get help. There are very few that will see you in trouble and put themselves in harm’s way to help. In some neighborhoods, even fewer will expose themselves to be a witness on your behalf. Now, how safe are you? You can check out more violence information by reading our article on gun violence.
Protecting Yourself After the Fact
No matter how well you prepare to defend yourself. You may come to realize that afterward, you are now defending yourself from legal action. Many people have found that afterwards, they lose everything, due to not preparing for the legal battles that often follow. There are two companies that I recommend. First is CCWSafe, they offer unlimited legal coverage that can defend you from an overzealous prosecutor or even a civil case. Second is the USCCA, which offers lower legal coverage, however, their civil coverage and training is second to none. Only you can decide where you are at today and what your needs are. For that reason, I have checked out many companies and found these two to be at the top of the list.