Most people believe that crime just happens. What they don't realize is that crime is a process. If you understand the process, you can greatly reduce and/or mitigate your chances of becoming a victim. The goal of self-defense is not to get physical, but to avoid the situation altogether. The more you understand about how crime develops, the more aware you become to the subtle signs of potential danger.

The 5-Stages-of-Violent-Crime is an internationally recognized system developed by Marc MacYoung which is utilized by police, military, firearms and self-defense instructors. The system works to outline the process that a criminal works thru before the attack even happens.

The first 3 stages are where effective self-defense awareness training can get you out of trouble. These 3 stages are the setup.

Stage 1 - The Intent

In its simplest form, the Intent is where the criminal is mentally and physically prepared to commit violence. By being able to recognize potential psychological and verbal "tells," your awareness should kick you into a state of orange, or warning mode.

Stage 2 - The Interview

The interview is a criminal process you want to fail. This is the criminal's attempt through verbal interaction to get a sense of you as a potential target. For example, are you too trusting, do you allow him in close, do you exhibit fear in your body language? A sample interview would be asking for directions or the time. How do you react? Your body language and your reaction allows the criminal to decide whether or not you are a suitable target that provides the least amount of resistance. By understanding the various interviews used, your awareness training should again kick you into a state of orange.

Stage 3 - The Positioning

Positioning is simply a fancy word for opportunity. Just like when we discuss the crime triangle, without opportunity, there can be no crime. Opportunity is about the criminal placing himself in a place where he can successfully attack you quickly and effectively. Are you aware of your surroundings? Are you isolated? Do you have an escape route? Can you reach help quickly? Can you draw attention if things go south? Again, all of these are important questions in your awareness plan.

The next two stages are about the act of violence, where your physical self-defense skills may have to be utilized. They also only happen when the above 3 stages work. Meaning, if a criminal can't set you up, he most likely won't attack you.

Stage 4 - The Attack

The criminal has now decided that you are a safe target and is commencing the attack to get what he wants. Your goal in any attack is survival and escape employing whatever verbal or physical self-defense tools you have available to you.

Stage 5 - The Reaction

The reaction is the most dangerous of the five stages. It's how the criminal feels about himself for what he has just done; and how he views your reaction to what he has done. The volatility at this stage can turn a simple assault to a rape to a murder.

The goal of self-defense training is to provide you with the tools that increase your response options and reduce the likelihood that a criminal will identify you as a soft target and reduce the opportunities for attack. The best defense plan is always not being in the situation in the first place.

**Angie M. Tarighi is the CEO & Founder of Women’s Self-Defense Institute providing self defense training, education awareness & personal protection products empowering women to fight back against crime.

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