Over at Danger and Play there is a great article and discussion about self defense and situational awareness. I’ve commented quite a bit there, but have some expanded thoughts.
People tend to fall into one of two categories: Pack animals or herd animals, and there is a difference. The two victims in that video are herd animals. They’re just kind of blindly wandering about and are caught complete off-guard. It’s like a pair of gazelles who have no idea that there are lions around. The attackers, while disorganized and showing a clear lack of foresight (fortunately for the victims) are a pack. They see a target and, without provocation, proceed to attack.
The woman notices the attack a bit before her boyfriend, but her reaction is just to turn around. The guy is caught completely unaware. They could have both been killed and were likely only saved by the arrival of the police (in this case pronounced poe-leece). There is no victim “blaming” here — those two didn’t deserve to get attacked. That is the typical response of herd-types when a person points out ways to avoid violence, so let’s go ahead and address it.
If I leave my car unlocked in a bad part of town with a shiny new laptop sitting on the passenger seat next to some jewelry, cash, and a firearm, and it is stolen you might say it was a bad idea leaving all that in plain view, on the car seat, in an unlocked vehicle. I don’t deserve to be stolen from in this scenario. But I could have prevented it anyway with some common sense.
As a society we’ve turned the idea of a bear into something cuddly — a Teddy bear, a Care bear, Yogi Bear — but in the wild they are fierce predators. They’re big, strong, and pack a punch. They’re also pretty laid back when they aren’t in attack mode. But they’re always pretty aware of their surroundings (and have a better sense of smell than dogs). You don’t want to mess with a bear.
But a gazelle, or a deer, or a cow? Only scary if they’re going to trample you in a herd and even then you have to lose your footing and find yourself at the wrong end of a stampede.
A pack of bears, incidentally, is called a sloth. How can that not be my spirit animal?