One of my fellow self-defense friends requested me to write a blog, which I have titled, “Top 9 Comparisons Violence vs Covid-19”. Since I am in the business of teaching Violence Prevention and Self-Defense, it made sense when I thought about the comparisons between Violence and this pandemic, Covid-19, also called Coronavirus. I see many parallels and contrasts, which I will point out here. Let’s start.
APATHY – There is an extensive comparison between the two and apathy might be the biggest reason people fall victim to both this disease and Violence. “It will never happen to me,” so no need to concern myself. With Covid-19, I think many people thought because it started so far away, there was no way it would ever affect them, but with the slightest knowledge of the past and pandemics, one would realize how it could reach them. The same with Violence. People make the mistake of feeling it won’t happen to them because they live in a safe neighborhood, or they don’t hang around that “crowd.” Until it happens to them, a loved one or friend, no call for worry about it is the thinking. During the March break, I saw interviews on CNN with many youths partying on the beach without a care in the world. When asked why they were ignoring the advice from the experts on not gathering in sizable crowds, they said, we are young, it does not affect the young.
DOES NOT AFFECT THE YOUNG? Even when told that was not true and explained that you could pass it on to someone else like a grandparent, they also dismissed it. Then the news of dozens of spring break partiers contracting the virus came out. So the message here is while some demographics may be more susceptible to getting it, all demographics are getting it. Anyone can fall victim to Covid-19 or Violence. Neither gives a damn about your age, gender, financial status, or where you live.
DENIAL – Then someone you know, or you fell victim to Covid-19 or Violence. And it is after the fact one thinks, “I can’t believe it happened to me.” You only need to turn on any crime show to see those who knew the victim saying something like, “Things like this do not happen here.” Once again, I reiterate that it can happen to anyone living anywhere.
FEAR – Once one accepts it can happen to anyone, fears often set in. That fear may cripple, or it may cause one to educate themselves. Education is undoubtedly a much more important step to take. Learning to understand both Covid-19 and Violence, how it can affect you, target you, what you can do to prevent it, and if you experience it, what steps can you take to minimize its effects? Education is empowering and places you in the driver seat to avoid it for yourself, or to help you protect others, so they do not fall victim to it. Fear can serve you once you accept it is part of the process.
AWARENESS & AVOIDANCE– These fall under the education aspect. If you research where and when you might be more likely to experience Covid-19 or Violence, you can either avoid those situations or at least take steps to reduce your chances of facing either of them. Like in Violence, there are many cues to notice. We call them pre-contact signals. Yes, anyone can fall victim to the Coronavirus or Violence, but some people are more vulnerable. For example, I represented the family the other day in picking up some necessities from the grocery store. So instead of four or five us going, I went on my own. Now with Covid-19, if just me, I only need to worry about me, much easier to do than if I had others with me to protect.
The same with Violence. If I have my granddaughters with me, I will need to be even more vigilant. Being alone allowed me to focus more on any “potential threats” without distractions. With Covid-19, the threats are not the people themselves, but the potential danger they are carrying. So, the danger may not take hold till days later, but essential to still see the potential threat as early as possible. Interesting to me was how many people at the store were walking around with their heads up, paying attention to everyone else as we teach in self-defense. In Violence, this is one area most people are lacking, but with Covid-19, I have never seen so many people looking at each other as if they were a threat. Yes, to the point of paranoia with some, but interesting to see how awareness and avoidance have significant similarities between the two, but seemingly much more during this pandemic. In one case, I was looking at something on the shelf, and as I turned, I did not see a woman who was within a couple of feet of me. She looked at me like I was a great threat to her life in an instant. The look on her face was how dare I get so close. She had seen me first and got close, but now was not the time to get into unnecessary conflict, so I just politely said sorry and carried on. This leads me to my next comparison.
An excellent example of this is the 2 metre or 6-foot rule they are suggesting to people to avoid catching the virus. Do not let any potential threat get too close is the lesson here. You see people following this advice for the most part. Still, regarding Violence, people have little regard to this lesson in their daily lives, walking around with their heads buried in their cellphones texting, talking or listening to music. Or you get the opposite with those who in a conflict get right in the other person’s face attempting to intimidate the risk as their ego commands. Neither Violence nor Covid -19 give a rat’s ass about your ego. If you google or look up fights on YouTube or Instagram, you will see how getting that close to a threat is not strategic. Very interesting how the two scenarios bring forth different reactions to a “potential threat.”
PARANOIA – A few similarities here. While it may be safer to err on the side of caution, fear can cause people to take irrational steps. Many are going online and reading about some drug that has not been proven safe or effective. They will take these so-called cures with no knowledge of how it might cause more damage. Similar in self-defense, many teach that with any potential threat they should hit first, ask questions later, which is irrational, and can end in disaster for you and the person who you saw as a threat. We need to go with the evidence of understanding what the dangers are in both cases, and the options we must ensure, so all involved stay safe.
Then the videos of people fighting over toilet paper and hand sanitizer. There is enough if everyone just bought a reasonable amount, but the fear of not being able to wipe your butt has overtaken many. If we are fighting over toilet paper, it does not look good if this virus was to take more dramatic steps. And to walk around in a constant state of paranoia is not healthy and has health effects like stress. Yes, heighten your awareness in specific environments, but no need for paranoia 24/7. If I go to the store out of necessity, I understand I need to be more aware of the situation, much like if I left on vacation to another country where things are not familiar. Paranoia cripples, logical understanding of the environment is beneficial.
KEEP IT SIMPLE – From what I have learned there are a few basic rules to follow, the crucial one with Covid-19 being social distancing. This advice is simple and can reduce the chances of the spread of the virus. Just as in self-defense, keep the information simple because if you get too technical, they will lose it when needed. So many self-defense systems and styles teach over-complicated crap that looks great in a video but will have little to no relevance if one faces Violence. Even with this simple rule of social distancing, people are trying to make it more complicated than it need be. They will add, I can get closer if I have a mask on or if I wear gloves, so it is not on my hands. Adding too many details to the most straightforward advice only complicates things and reduces the chances of survival. Yes, a mask may be better than not having one, but stick to the primary rule of 6 feet distance.
PROTECT YOURSELF FIRST – In First Aid, they advise you to care for yourself first, then you can help take care of others. Now this section might have a few differences and correlations. Many are not getting the message, but if you keep yourself safe and isolated, you are protecting others. Many still cannot see this because the risk is not direct and in their face as a violent encounter usually is. But we need our healthcare specialists to put themselves into the depths of compromise, and some are dying to save others. They are putting the safety of others ahead of their own. Sometimes this occurs in self-defense when someone puts themselves into a violent scene to protect someone else. In both cases, it may be for a loved one or a stranger who needs help. Both have variables that might affect the outcome, but with the research on Covid-19, there may be guidelines one can follow, whereas, with Violence, one may have a split-second to make a life-saving decision. Both have high-risk variables, and both require people to go against the standard advice to protect yourself before protecting others.
TRAUMA – There are very similar comparisons between the two topics. We are hearing of loved ones dying from Covid-19, and sometimes several members in a single-family dying, leaving the other family members to deal with the stress, trauma, and PTSD that will last for years and, in most cases, a lifetime. Many of these people are dying with their family members, not being able to support them or be there when they pass away. This is traumatic for the survivors, knowing what is happening to their loved one, and feeling helpless to help. There only support may have to be over a phone. It is tragic.
And Violence brings a lifetime of trauma for many who have suffered sexual assault, abuse, or other forms of Violence. In both cases, it is critical to seek help to cope with the trauma. Understanding, empathy, and listening will be helpful in both by those known and unknown to the victims. One difference between the two is with Covid-19 when someone says they have it, there does not seem to be any argument or accusations of lying. In fact, people want you to tell them so they can protect themselves. With sexual assault, often the victim is not believed, and in fact, they are ridiculed and people do not want to hear what you have faced as it may not affect them directly. But sexual assault does affect everyone. I believe sexual assault is an epidemic, but because people who have experienced it can’t pass it on as a physical illness, people do not have the same worry. I wish everyone treated sexual assault as seriously as they do this pandemic.
BE PROACTIVE – In both, many people become proactive only after something happens to someone they know. Often when someone inquires about self-defense training with my business, if I ask what happened to them that caused them to seek training, they will say, “How did you know something happened?” It is human nature for many to not seek help in any area until some incident triggers their action. Being proactive in both is your best chance of survival, whether you think or believe the risk is low or high. We owe it to our families, coworkers, neighbors, and strangers to be proactive in protecting each other.
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Managing Director, SAFE International
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