The other day my wife sent me an article about a woman who had been shot and killed for refusing to give her name and number to a man. The man also wounded five others, including the woman’s fiancé. The full article can be read here.
In my Phase 2: Attack post, I mentioned charm and blitz tactics. This is a real life example of an attempted charm attack that moved into a blitz attack. For details on blitz and charm attacks, please follow these links: Part 1 and Part 2
For this post, I want to elaborate on the information of those posts and give some options for deescalating this type of situation.
Let’s look at the information that is available: The murder victim was out with friends and family celebrating the life of a recently deceased family member. An unknown male approaches the victim seeking her contact information and was refused multiple times throughout the night. The venue is an alcohol serving venue, so it’s safe to assume that alcohol was consumed on some level during the evening. The reports that I read do not mention what time the victim and her group arrived but does state that they decided to leave at 2 am. This implies that the group was at the venue for some time. Upon leaving, the man approached the woman and hit her. The victims fiancé began to intervene when the attacker pulled out a pistol and shot the victim and as she attempted to escape the man shot her again, hitting her in the head. The attacker then shot several others.
The attempted charm tactic comes after the first rejection by following up with repeated attempts to “woo” her and obtain her contact information. This is what Gavin de Becker refers to as “discounting no.” The attacker is looking to gain or maintain control over the victim. If the victim gives into the request, it usually gives the attacker the impression that [s]he is controlling the encounter. The victim needs to be clear and confident in the refusals. It is unknown how the victim in this case acted during the refusals. However, I’m confident that other charm tactics were attempted during the encounter. This is where the red flags need to start popping up.
I’m sure that the victim was feeling uncomfortable due to the multiple encounters and the persistence of the unknown man throughout the night. This is the main lesson of this unfortunate case. If at any time you’re made to feel uncomfortable, you need to leave. It doesn’t matter if you are having fun with your friends or it’s your only night out all month. Your safety needs to be priority. There is a reason that you are feeling uncomfortable and you need to act on that feeling. Later when you are safe, you can examine the reasons behind why you felt the way you did.
However, there is no clear cut or cookie cutter answer to any encounter. Every encounter is different. This is where it’s important to understand the dynamics of violence. If the man was showing certain behavioral cues or started to move into intimidation (mental aspect of blitz), simply trying to leave may escalate into physical blitz. It may be wise to give false contact information and find a good reason to leave the venue. In some cases, I would advise having a fake name and number memorized. This will help a would-be victim avoid fumbling through trying to make up this information on the spot. Now days, most people have their phones in their hand while out and the aggressor may want to call or text right there to confirm the information. If this is you, it may be wise to have an app like this, this or this, that you can text or call the person from that gives a disposable number. This solution is only temporary. The goal is to create a distraction that allows enough time to get away. I would not recommend hanging around in the venue or going back to the area for some time because the individual will most likely be angry once it is realized that the number is fake.
All in all, as seen from the result of this case, it’s important to see the pre-attack indicators and act on them before it’s too late. It’s unfortunate that we have to be so guarded when we are out and about, but the reality of the situation is that there are bad people in our world. It doesn’t matter who we are with at the time; we always be need to be vigilant and prepared.
1 Gavin De Becker, The Gift of Fear (New York, New York: Dell Publishing, 1997), 66.