Abduct. Carry off or kidnap (a person) illegally by force or deception.
Predator. An animal that preys on others, a rapacious, exploitive person
Tactics. The plans and means adopted in carrying out a scheme or achieving some end.
Safety is central to our daily lives. As parents, we care for the safety of our children. We want them to be aware of household dangers, to walk safely to school and in their neighbourhood, and to be aware of dangerous people. As adults, we take care to prevent danger to ourselves. We don’t want to live scared and we don’t want the people we care about to live scared. We want safety.
Safety from dangerous people is for many the most haunting. Abduction is particularly scary. Recently, in Toronto, police arrested Dipesh Patesh for a series of abductions over a period of four years. The horrific crimes of Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka occurred decades ago but still disturb us.
Abduction is relatively rare compared to other dangers- traffic and household accidents, etc… Any number, however, is too many. Accordingly, we need to understand how predators think, their tactics – how they carry out their abductions.
Tactics vary from person to person but here is an overview of some of the more common ones.
1. Asking for help. A predator might ask for directions to a place you are likely to know. For a kid, it could be a park or an ice cream shop. He might also ask for help opening a car door. Serial killer Ted Bundy used to feign injury to solicit help and get close to his targets. An assailant might claim he has lost something – a dog, a wallet – and needs your help. He is trying to develop a rapport and to get close.
2. Offering help. One of our former students was offered a ride as she was walking in the Yonge and Eglinton area in Toronto. When she refused the man got out of the car and tried to persuade her with charm. When this didn’t work, he grabbed her and tried to pull her into the vehicle. She fought and got away. In a short period of time he switched his tactics from charming persuasion to brute force.
3. A Crisis. A former student of ours told me how a man approached her in crisis telling her he locked his keys in his car and he couldn’t fit his arm through the partially opened window. Could she, with smaller arms, help him? When she approached the car, she saw that the window was wide open and ran away. Predators know that people like to help and that in the stress of crisis don’t think clearly.
4. Threats. Get in the car or I will…! The threat of physical violence – with or without a weapon- can be an effective means of gaining a victim’s cooperation.
5. Physical force. The most brutal means. This might follow a threat or simply be the attacker’s first approach. In these cases, he is very confident he can overwhelm his target. Sometimes he is wrong. Years ago, a man grabbed one of our students outside of a bar and tried to pull her around the building. She hit him until he let go and she got away.
As self-defense instructors, we study how assaults actually occur. It is unpleasant but it is informative and an effective way to give you a better understanding of what happens. Again, we don’t want you to live scared. Just live aware.