The Violence Triangle – Clint Overland

Fire needs three things to burn:

  1. Fuel
  2. Heat
  3. Oxygen

Without one of these components, you will never achieve flame.  Remove one of these components and you will stop the combustion.

Violence is a fire. If left unchecked it will consume everything in its path.  One of the main things I teach young Violence Professionals is to be able to spot the sources of the fire.

Whether it is a person or a reaction to a person.

You must be able to remove at least one source of the violence.

I am going to use a situation where you have all three elements of a possible confrontation and try to show you that by thinking before you act you will be able to stop what can destroy everything.

Situation 1

Cell block B

Inmates are beginning to yell and beat on walls. Officer responds

Sees two inmates arguing.  Steps in to further assess the situation.

Confirms that it’s not a set up to harm him.  Has one of the inmates step out of the cell to tell him what is going on. Inmate confirms that he has a problem with several people in the cell do to situations from the street. Officer removes the inmate and places him in another cell.

Situation calms, violence averted.

Simple right. Removed one source and the situation calms.

But what if you are no longer in a controlled environment?

Now let’s look at a much more dynamic situation.

Situation 2.

Barroom full of drunk happy people.  Everyone is having a good time.

Music’s loud people are laughing and enjoying life.

Bouncers on edge. His gut tells him it’s one of those nights.  There is going to be trouble and if he doesn’t watch close the whole damn place will erupt. He watches as there is a pause in the frivolity over in the corner where a group of bikers are partying.  People are moving away and body language is shifting from happy to on edge. He moves over quickly to find out what’s wrong.

Oh, joy of joys. It’s one of the frat rats that come in hitting on the President’s old lady.

Bouncer steps in and attempts to regain control. Hey there kid, you need to come with me right now.

Bouncer doesn’t give the kid a chance to argue. Slips a wrist control on the kid and walks him to the bar.

Shouts behind him. It’s ok guys I got this. Takes the kid to the bar and explains the situation.

Kid apologizes and agrees that it’s best if he leaves. Pays his tab and begins to walk out.  Everything is ok, right?

Not even close.

The bikers are pissed and they want to stomp the kid. Bouncer walks the kid out and faces off with the club. Hey guys, there is no need for this. We’ve all been young and stupid right.

Bouncer holds them at the door just long enough for the kid to drive off. I tell you what. I will buy your next round, what do you say. Bouncer knows that one or two of the members have turned and walked out the back door but he’s got to deal with the fire in front of him right now

The club agrees and returns to their corner.  Bouncer tells the waitress to take a couple of buckets over to the club. Then steps outside to see if the kid got away.

Club members are walking back in.

Bouncer checks the parking lot.  Nope no bodies.  Whew that was close.

Now we’ve looked at two situations that one thing was removed from the equation.  So, let’s examine a conflict with all three of the fire triangle in full swing.

Situation 3

Again, another Barroom.  This time there is no Bouncer.

Hard bellied Blond is on the dance floor.  Her husband is watching her shake and move. So is everyone else. A vulture (individual that swoops in on a woman hoping for an easy score) wings his way over to her.

Now the Blond is a fire starter. She likes to see her husband get jealous and save her. Vulture starts dancing with her and the Blonde replies by bumping and grinding all over the Vulture. Husband watches and begins to get super pissed off. Why is that guy trying to hit on his property?

Blonde knows the signs, he’s started to crack his knuckles and stands up. Time for the fun to start.

Husband walks over and blindsides the Vulture with a beer bottle across the skull. Blood flies.

The Vulture goes down. His friends rush over and jump on the husband.

Knife comes out and before you can blink, someone’s intestines are on the floor.

The Blonde screams, it’s the husband’s guts. He falls and the Vulture and crew run.

All because she needed to get her rocks off.

Folks, I have watched and been involved in every single one of these situations.

Now the questions I want to ask you is, “Are you one of the sources needed for violence to start?”

Are your reactions and responses one of the key components for violence to break out when a situation arises? Because if they are, then you are going to be in a continuous shit storm.

There is an adage: Don’t add fuel to the fire.

Well letting your monkey brain overload your hummingbird ass is a sure-fire way to turn a single spark into a full-on conflagration. Any action based in emotions can and will be a fuel source in one form or fashion. Whether it is intended or not.

You are responsible for 99% of the shit storms you get into if you allow yourself to overreact or over exaggerated your responses to stimulus. If you start getting angry because someone doesn’t respond to your demands or bow to your wants then you are the one responsible for any bad that happens.

  • Screaming at people has never accomplished anything other than to piss the other party off.
  • Demanding that others do what you say without the power to enforce your demands does nothing but add heat to the mix.
  • The threat of Properly Applied Violence is only useful if you have the capacity and capabilities to enforce it.

Think about it this way. Violence is either the best way for you to end the situation or the worst way to receive an education

  • Screaming at people.
  • Demands
  • Overreacting
  • Emotional outburst

All the above are fuel in some form or fashion. The Violence Triangle requires three things, same as the Fire Triangle.

  1. The Monkey Brain is the oxygen.
  2. Emotional reactions are the heat.
  3. Actions are the fuel.

Remove any of these three elements and you can remove the threat of violence.  Add to any of these elements and you will be engulfed in the outcome.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *