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Violence & The Gift of Fear
Eye of Light
The ability to predict violence is important in avoiding antisocial and asocial violence.
Gavin de Becker describes how - in detail - in his book 'The Gift of Fear - Survival Signals that Protect Us from Violence'. You can read more here and here, or buy here. This is an overview.
Predicting human behaviour is about reading the signals that others give us. Our body's evolutionary technology is already skilled at doing this! Intuition - in the context of violence - is us signalling to ourselves that danger may exist. We need to listen to and then explore our intuition. However, in the modern world, we tend to ignore or explain away our intuition, preferring to act habitually or logically or in a socially polite way. Predatory criminals take advantage of these tendencies. Also, the modern world is more about controlling risks rather than predicting risks. We need to re-access this amazing technology.
Violent acts do not occur in isolation or randomly. There is a chain of events that lead up to them. If we can intuit an earlier link in the chain, we may be able to avoid the violence altogether. The strongest intuitive signal we give ourselves is fear, after which, in order of urgency come: apprehension, suspicion, hesitation. Then: doubt, gut feelings, hunches, curiosity. Then there are: nagging feelings, persistent thoughts, physical sensations, wonder and anxiety.
Intuition is always right in the sense that it is responding to something and has your best interests at heart. However, our interpretation of it is not always correct. Nevertheless, it is wiser to explore these feelings. It may avert disaster. Even if no danger is identified, we will have updated our intuition for the future. Plus, we become skilled at communicating with ourselves!
Will you honour your intuition?
"The most important thing is to trust your own instincts. In cases which have ended in assault and murder, many women have said they knew their stalker wanted to kill them. These cases are murder in slow motion, psychologically and physically. Trust your instincts, despite what other professionals might say, and seek advice from organisations like ours. The victim is the best assessor."
(Laura Richards of Paladin, who worked on violent crime at New Scotland Yard and advises the National Police Chiefs Council, cited at BBC, posted and accessed 10 October 2017)
A holidaymaker who helped catch a child rapist he saw with groups of young girls said "gut instinct" made him alert the authorities. He contacted the National Crime Agency as he believed something was "seriously wrong". David Bushell, from London, said he had watched Keith Morris over three days after seeing him with a number of girls aged between about 10 and 12 years of age. He said: "I felt like something was wrong but I was not really sure why the alarm bells were ringing. By the second day I felt like I just wanted to go and confront him and ask 'What are you doing with these children? What relationship are they to you?'."
He said when he questioned hotel staff about Morris he was told he was in the process of adopting eight girls. However, Mr Bushell was so concerned he referred Morris to the National Crime Agency in 2017. Morris went on to be convicted of four counts of rape, four counts of assault by penetration, two charges of sexual assault and two counts of perverting the course of justice.
Mr Bushell said he believed people should act on their instincts. "Ultimately if there is nothing wrong then all you will do is cause someone a small amount of stress but if there's something seriously wrong you may save someone's life or save them from the horrendous actions of someone that is quite monstrous," he said.
Mike Canning, from the NSPCC, said: "Gut feelings are important. If something doesn't feel right it's often because it isn't right. We would encourage anyone who has got a concern to phone up and talk it through." (BBC, posted and accessed 13/9/2018)
"If it doesn't feel right, don't do it. That's the lesson. That lesson alone, will save you a lot of grief. Even doubt means don't."