In 1984, two researchers, Betty Grayson and Morris I. Stein, conducted a study to uncover how the human predator selects his next victim. Grayson and Stein secretly videotaped a number of pedestrians in New York, and then showed the video to convicted felons. The men viewing the video had been convicted of violent offences – robbery, sexual assault, murder. Grayson and Stein asked the felons to select potential victims from the video.
In only several seconds, potential victims were identified. It was found age, race and gender had nothing to do with the selection process. Instead, selection was based on body language. Potential victims didn’t walk, they shuffled. Potential victims would not make eye contact with those around them, they had awkward body movements, and they were not aware of their surroundings. Some of the potential victims selected were big, able-bodied men.
On the flip side, non-victims walked with a smooth and natural gait, were more coordinated, made eye contact with others, and were not perceived as weak, submissive or unlikely to fight back. It was an interesting observation on the part of the researchers when some women of small stature were not selected due to their perceived ability to ‘fight back’.
Human predators are much like the lion in the African grasslands. In the same way a lion will hunt an injured or weak wildebeest, the human predator will hunt his next victim. Predators do not want to unduly extend themselves in their quest, and they surely do not want to be injured.
So what can YOU do to make yourself less of a target?
Several things – there are many other people with far more experience than I in this field, and I will always defer to their expertise, but my single most important suggestion is:
Be aware of your surroundings:
- When you get off the bus or out of your car, take a look around. See who is near you, and if anyone seems out of place.
- Park in well lit locations.
- When walking, keep your head up, and scan the area around you.
- Use caution if listening to some type of music player while walking - loud music can drown out the sound of approaching cars and approaching human predators.
- If you see someone or something that makes you uncomfortable, change direction or cross the street. There is nothing ‘silly’ about this – we still have survival instincts, and if something is making your internal alarm bells go off, pay attention!
To end on a light note, the following video is an example that sometimes, even a human predator can misjudge his potential victim. The elderly woman in the video shuffles across the street, and she isn’t all that aware of her surroundings – she gives the appearance of being an ideal target. The man in the car sees the woman’s frailties, and tries to intimidate her with aggressive horn honking. Well, apparently the old gal has some juice left in her, because her actions put an end to the drivers antics.