Some ugly truths about responsibility and violence

If you haven't already seen my CTV Ottawa Morning Live piece on women's safety while walking at night, here's the link:

In that piece, I mentioned two key tips regarding awareness:

1) Take out the headphones; and

2) Pull your face out of the phone.

I know - in fact I hope - that this will start a small outrage among people, who come forward with questions like:

"Isn't that a lot like 'victim blaming'?"

"Why shouldn't people feel safe in their own city, jogging with headphones in?"

"People shouldn't take advantage of someone just because they're not paying attention!"

These are all fair statements and questions, as long as you conveniently forget one simple truth:

Thieves, rapists, kidnappers and criminals don't give a sh*t what you think about right and wrong, and they're going to do their thing, regardless of your principles, opinions or prevailing social norms.

Here are a few more examples of well-intentioned, but naïve and unrealistically idealist statements:

“Desperate people shouldn't break into peoples' cars and houses around Christmas to steal presents so they can sell them for food? It's private property and it’s illegal!!”

“Don't drug users know that they should have listened to their teachers and never have started using, because drugs lead to crime and ruined lives?”

“Don't those gang-bangers know that unlicensed handguns are illegal and that they kill people? We have laws against that! Maybe we need more gun control!”

I’d wager that in some of these cases, we’d be quick to point the finger at the victim, indicating how he could have or should have done something more “common sense” to prevent the crime. In fact, here are some typical that for some reason, people are all too comfortable uttering to victims of home invasion, thefts, muggings and social, alcohol-fueled violence. Yet strangely, we don't see these as "victim blaming", even though that's exactly what they are, if you hold the affected parties to the same standard you would a person who’s been sexually assaulted:

“But, why didn't you put the presents in the trunk, like the police tell you? Don't you have an alarm at your house? They must have seen they presents, otherwise why would they go after you?"

“Well, if you're worried about that, why don't you move to a different neighbourhood? You knew the reputation of that part of town when you moved there. Are you surprised that there are drug problems?”

“What are you so worried about? If you don't hang around with those people, and don't go out late at night around their neighbourhoods, what's going to happen? How many people catch a bullet being in the wrong place at the wrong time? If you got involved with gun violence, you were probably around the people that cause it!”

I don't mean to trivialize it, but do you see it now? If something criminal happens to you because you failed to account for the reality of the danger, is it your fault? Probably not. Is your safety your responsibility? Yes. Is it worth accepting that minimizing risk-attractive behavior is the single best way to avoid violent surprises? Depends... do you want to be right, or do you want to be alive, mobile, healthy, vital and happy?

All of the moralizing and social posturing in the world around who's to blame and root causes will never erase the reality that a small segment of the population will always tend toward, or be driven by external factors toward criminal offenses.

If you're interested in being a potential victim with an irreproachable moral position, then keep your face in that phone while you walk home, reading the latest social media outrage on random acts of violence, sexual assaults, home invasions, assaults on seniors, kidnappings, school shootings. Keep reading one-sided opinion pieces that ignore the ground truth of violence; Feed your mind with biased conjecture so you can continue to be informed, outraged, morally superior and totally ineffective in the real world. - to have no impact whatsoever.

You’ve seen the video. Neither of those good ladies deserved to be attacked, but just a moment of distraction and a lack of preparedness could have been life-ending if this weren’t a simulation. What would the police do for them? The courts? The women’s services centres and advocates? Nothing – it’s too late! Only you can defend you.

The only life that you can impact and control 100% is your own. In the course of so doing, you stand a higher-than-average chance of meaningfully impacting the lives of your loved ones by setting the example of being confident, self-assured, aware, capable and strong.

I urge you all to take your lives more seriously. You're worth it. Be aware, pay attention, develop inner strength and make yourself an example of a person who will not submit or cower to wrong-doers. The more of us there are, the fewer there are of the other type, and the less inclined they are to prey on the innocent.


That's the "what?" and the "why?" around social victimology from my perspective as a former spy and a lifelong practitioner of the defensive arts. What are your thoughts? In the next few blogs, I'll talk about "how".

While you wait, visit us at a class - Tuesday nights at 7 PM and Sundays at Noon. Contact me for details at or 613.627.3018.