Deterrence is a wide set of strategies and tactics that are designed to discourage someone from attacking you. Avoidance is really a subset of the overall concept of deterrence. Deterrence can be used with both strangers and people you know.

Deterrence focuses on reducing someone’s intent to cause you harm. For example, anything that you do that makes you a harder target has the effect of deterring an attacker looking for an easy victim. Anything you do that has the effect of raising the “cost” and or risk of attacking you is a deterrent.

The following are a few examples of deterrence for runners:

1. Running with other people.
2. Running with a dog.
3. Running in an alert and confident state.
4. Running with a visible weapon.
5. Running in well-lit and well-travelled areas.
6. Running in a powerful manner.
7. Running with a flashlight.
8. Running with a visible whistle or personal alarm.
9. Running a varied route.
10. Running at varied times.

The above is just a few of the many examples of deterrence that are intended to reduce your chance of being targeted. This next category of deterrence is for if you may already have been targeted, but you have not yet been attacked. In this case, the predator is still in the “selection” stage, but you have moved closer to being selected for victimization.

Remember, an attacker must have the intent and means and opportunity in order to attack you. These three concepts are separate, yet also intertwined. Means and opportunity can have an effect on Intent. If someone has the means and opportunity to successfully attack you, that fact may nudge his intent high enough to trigger an attack. If someone has a high intent to attack, then being provided with even minimal means and opportunity may still be enough to launch an attack.

Therefore, deterrence works by lowering intent directly or indirectly through lowering means and/or lowering opportunity. Deterrence has the effect of changing the risk/reward equation such that the risk of attacking you now outweighs the reward. The potential cost is not worth the potential benefit.
The primary method of achieving this result is communicating your undesirability as a victim.

• You are too much trouble to deal with.
• You are someone who will defend yourself physically.
• You are potentially dangerous to the attacker.
• You will be loud and make a fuss.
• You will not be quiet.
• You will not submit.

This message is conveyed through a combination of physical positioning, body language, and verbal declarations and warnings. The message is backed up by your willingness to use force to defend yourself. In order for deterrence to be effective, you must also have the option of using force. It is the knowledge that you will enforce your boundaries that provides the legitimately to deterrence.

Deterrence is also backed up by your willingness to engage in By-Proxy and Mitigation in the event of an attack. In this case, you will report the crime. You will get the police involved, and you will aid in the prosecution of your attacker. In fact, it is more likely that a potential attacker will fear the societal consequences of attacking you than the physical consequences of attacking you.

One reason for that is that he (or she) gets to choose who not to attack. If you are targeted for victimization, it is likely that the attacker has already discounted your ability to successfully fight back. You need to convince him he has made a mistake in his selection process.

Deterrence works by sending a strong message to your threat(s) that he (or she) should not attack or he will suffer the consequences of attacking you. Deterrence is an implicit threat of you using violence in your defense either directly by you or indirectly via By-Proxy. Therefore, the effectiveness of deterrence is dependent on you getting your message across to any and all potential attackers. It a nut shell, your message is “Do NOT mess with me!!!!”

How exactly you achieve this result varies from person to person. It varies from situation to situation. But a common tactic involves a strong use of your voice to establish clear boundaries. The closer a threat is to you, the more direct the message needs to be.

It is important to recognize that any level of deterrence may not be enough to be effective. The threat may choose to attack you anyway. But a low level of deterrence is more likely to be disregarded. When your boundary setting uses Under-enforcement it is likely to result in feelings of contempt and a continuing lack of respect for you.

On the other hand, boundary setting that is perceived as Over-enforcement may result in a backlash against you. In this case, your boundary setting is not effective deterrence. It actually serves the effect of making it more likely you will be attacked. An example of this is the use of naming calling. “Back off!!!!” sends a different message than “Back off you piece of shit!!!!” and “Step back or else!!!”. The first sets a clear boundary. The second is an insult. The third issues a challenge.  In order for deterrence to be effective, it must serve the result of making it less likely that the person will want to attack you.

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