"If the type of violence you will face is predictable, what about me?"
Fair question. But damn, people, some day I'm going to do a blog on how to read statistics because almost anything I write will be read incorrectly.
Here's the deal: Unless you are making certain life choices, your chances of being exposed to serious violence are very small.
So what are the stupid life choices? Almost all social violence happens in four kinds of places:
- Where people get their minds altered. Drugs, alcohol, or even ecstatic drumming, things that break down the social conditioning against violence increase the likelihood of violence. Who'd a thunk it?
- Where young men gather in groups. An audience plus insecurities about status are a recipe for Monkey Dance violence.
- Where territories are in dispute. War or the edge between rival gang territory, doesn't matter. Violence is more common and even the types of violence are similar: raids and drive-bys; spray 'n' pray and collateral damage.
- Where you don't know the rules. Groups have rules and those rules will be enforced. In certain groups, they will be enforced with a look or a word. In others if you refuse to acknowledge your error, the correction may be violent.
So, the first analysis-- do you spend time in any of these situations? The first two, guys are at risk for Monkey Dance and women, in general, at risk for unwanted touching. The third, the violence could be extreme, random, and not even aimed at you. Wrong place, wrong time could put you in front of a bullet.
The fourth is rare, sort of, and not bad, unless you are stupid. Every so often something very, very bad happens when some college kids decide to go slumming at a biker or barrio bar. They don't know the rules. If they had the humility to realize that, keep their mouths shut and be respectful, it's not bad. But that seems to be a rare combination of virtues in that demographic. Some of us go into wildly different cultures with some regularity and make friends. What we have in common is the ability to be respectful and shut the hell up.
There is fifth place, too: predatory violence happens in lonely places, without witnesses.
Second analysis: do you spend time with violent people? If your husband has beaten you in the past he will do so in the future. If you decided to marry your prison pen pal child molester, he will molest your children when you have them. If your asshole roommate gets in fights every weekend and you go out drinking with him, you will get into fights. Predictable.
Third analysis: What kind of target do I look like? Big guys who look tough are Monkey Danced on more than little guys. Win or lose with the big guy, you score points on 'heart'. Win with the little guy and you just beat a child-- no rep in that. Worse if the little guy beats you. People who are uncomfortable in their own skin (reads as weak) and labile (literally translates as 'lippy' but a psychology term for showing emotion) are bully targets.
People who, again, are uncomfortable in their own skin, awkward, inattentive and hesitant, are primary targets for predators. Resource predators, the most common, are just in it for the money.
This is the part where you need to understand statistics. Even in a war zone, actual violence is not 24/7. Most people who go to war do not die or get injured and many never even see action. Because you can predict the type does not mean you can predict the event. I am fairly certain that if 130 people died on a jet plane, the cause was probably a plane wreck... but that is no indicator that any given plane will wreck.
Lastly are the outliers, and this is important. There are types of violence that do not follow common patterns. Sometimes that is deliberate. An insecure member of a violent group may do something completely outside the rules of normal social violence to get a reputation for being 'hard' too crazy to mess with. It is often a display of extreme violence against someone who would not normally be seen as a legitimate target-- like stomping a baby.
If you have betrayed a group with a propensity to violence, that can trigger an extreme response... but this one is predictable, too.
There are random acts of group violence as bonding. Very, very rare but very, very violent. There is no victim profile for this.
Home invasion crimes, schizophrenic episodes... This stuff is rare and that makes it less predictable but raises the stakes. Obviously I concentrate on defending the high-end unpredictable stuff, because the predictable stuff is preventable.