Mankind may be the top of the food chain, but we’re still a bunch of dumb animals sometimes. We as people have to stay safe from each other as much as we do any other animal. Watching any local news source will show you just how bad other people can be. Sometimes the only way we can stay safe from these people is to avoid them before a problem happens.
But how do we know? Well, by stereotyping.
I don’t mean what most people think when they hear stereotyping. Whether or not your African American coworker likes chicken has nothing to do with if someone will attack you in a dark alley. I’m talking about using what present information you can parse from a person to determine if they’re something to be worried about. Some police precincts refer to this as “profiling.”
Disclaimer: I’m going to make some blatant generalizations about people. Trust that I don’t mean to offend. they’re just hypothetical examples.
I’m not talking about lions or hawks, but folks that want to prey on the weak. Criminal justice professionals usually refer to these people as sociopaths or as someone with Antisocial Personality Disorder.
A predator can mean many things. They’re the ones that will assault someone to get what they want. They’ll be persistent in their endeavors, reacting aggressively when something actively blocks their goal. They may manipulate situations and relationships, and feel indifferent when they harm others, physically or emotionally.
It won’t always be easy to spot a predator, but they can often be found in abusive relationships (on the abusive end). Confronting these individuals is dangerous, and could result in harm to yourself. Avoid these folk when possible, and use a calm demeanor when confronted, as to not escalate the situation.
Often referred to as scavengers, these people are similar to predators but less aggressive. They’ll make the most of an opportunity, but they seldom fight back when confronted. They’ll take advantage of someone in an injured state, physically, mentally, or financially.
Vultures are the individuals that will approach you in a McDonald’s parking lot, asking for a few bucks. They’re the people that wouldn’t break a window, but will check if it’s unlocked.
It won’t take more than a firm demeanor and a strong voice to dissuade a vulture.
So What Can I Do?
Generally speaking, anyone who’s a threat will fall into one of those two categories. The trick is to figure out if someone is either of them. Sometimes that overly friendly man just has pore social queues and doesn’t actually intend to scam or stalk you. Most people will say to go with your gut, which is a good idea. Otherwise, use reasoning to determine if they’re behaving differently. Is someone asking questions they have no reason to know? Are they following you, despite your route being uniquely different than what someone else would take? They might be problems.
Start one step at a time. Check out our article on how to get in the habit of spotting a threat. Once you’ve spotted them, you can decide how to react from there.