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How to avoid an approaching attacker

Imagine this: It’s late at night and you’re just leaving the office. You notice a stranger approaching, and they seem dangerous. Do you engage? Or will you avoid them?

Threat assessment can help you determine what the correct course of action is when something like this happens to you. How you react will usually be decided by what you observe from the potential attacker. (h/t to

Are they carrying weapons? Do they look threatening? These factors must come into play before you act.

If you believe that you are about to be attacked, remember these three factors:

  1. Equalize – Use anything at your disposal to tip the scales in your favor. For example, if the attacker is armed with a knife and you have an umbrella, you can use the umbrella to protect yourself. Open it to use the umbrella as a shield, or use it to strike the assailant if it’s closed. Always carry a pen in your purse to use as an improvised weapon.
  2. Distance – Keep as much distance between you and the attacker. Try getting into your car and locking the door behind you to protect yourself from the attacker’s weapon.
  3. Escape – Don’t engage, and escape as fast as you can. You have to survive, especially when caught in an uncontrolled situation. After you escape, call the authorities to deal with the attacker. If you have to deal with them, do in on your terms.

How to avoid an attacker

Regardless if you’re attacked in a “normal” scenario or after SHTF, always prioritize escaping. Threat assessment is key, but don’t forget that the law will often “protect” the criminal more than the victim. If forced to engage, follow the tips below:

  1. Try to engage the attacker in an area with a closed-circuit television camera (CCTV) so there is a record of what really happened and why you were forced to defend yourself.
  2. Make some noise to alert other people. Always bring a whistle with you, or get a small air horn so you can alert others if you have to.
  3. If you have to engage, fight to win. “Hit and run” so you can inflict as much damage as possible using minimal effort, then escape. (Related: 5 Everyday items you can use to protect yourself in a dangerous situation.)
  4. Head for a public space since this will often deter attackers who may not want to be exposed.
  5. When the attack is over, try to move on. Head to the nearest police station and file a report so the authorities can help you find closure and track down your attacker.

Threat assessment can help you determine if you’re about to be attacked. Is the assailant practicing “blocking” by placing something, like several cars or an alley, between the two of you? Stay alert so they don’t maneuver you into an area away from other people.

Don’t make a potential attacker’s job easier for them. Avoid parking in blind spots, and stay alert while commuting.

Don’t think that avoidance marks you as a coward. Avoidance is assessing the situation correctly without endangering yourself unnecesarily.

Remember: You must always live to fight another day. If you survive an encounter with an attacker, you can keep protecting yourself and your loved ones.

Read more articles about self-defense and how to avoid potential attackers at

Sources include:

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