Karen C. is a 30-year-old Brooklyn, NY woman who regularly rides the subway.
One morning, around 9 a.m., she was riding the subway when she noticed a man staring at her.
Eventually, the man tried to strike up a conversation. At first, he appeared to want to have a friendly chat.
But Karen felt that something was off with the man, so instead of talking, she chose to ignore him.
When Karen didn’t respond, the man became angry and aggressive.
Before she knew it, the man snatched her purse and grabbed her by the hair.
The deranged man then hit her in the head several times, lifted her shirt, and tried to pull down her pants.
When the train arrived at the next stop the man fled with her purse, cell phone, and other personal belongings.
Karen was shocked and hurt and lost a significant amount of hair during the attack.
There was surveillance video of the suspect fleeing the subway station, but no word if he was ever caught.
Now, the man who carried out this attack was likely trying to engage Karen in conversation to “size her up.”
He wanted to see what her reaction would be to a stranger talking to her.
Obviously, this horrible attack was not Karen’s fault. Dirtbags will be dirtbags.
But there is a lesson here…
If a criminal is looking for someone to attack, and a person looks them in the eyes and shows confidence, the criminal might move on to an easier victim.
Sadly, these days, rampant violent crimes are the new normal in many large cities.
These thugs are looking for easy prey and crimes of opportunity.
But they often give non-verbal clues before they carry out their crimes.
So, here are a few of the non-verbal clues to watch out for when exercising good situational awareness.
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “Eyes are the window to the soul.”
There is a lot of truth to this. For instance, communication through eyes can tell a lot about what a person’s intentions are.
For example, if you are speaking with someone and they are staring at your watch or purse, it could be a sign that they are about to grab it.
It’s human nature to look where we are going next.
Also, most people know that eye movements can also give away whether a person is telling the truth or not.
If you are having a conversation and someone has a long stare into your eyes, it could be a sign they are trying to convince you that they are telling the truth.
If they continue to look away from you, with shifty eyes, it could be that they’re lying to you, and won’t engage in eye contact.
Always pay attention to the eyes.
It’s not the words that matter:
Another clue is how we say our words. Not what is being said, how it is said.
This includes things such as tone, volume, speed, and even mixing up words.
You can tell a lot about a person based on how they speak.
If someone is yelling at the top of their lungs, it likely means they are angry or upset.
If a stranger is approaching you, and they are speaking fast, or stumbling over their words, it could mean they are nervous for some reason.
These are both signs that there is something wrong, and the person may intend to do something bad to you.
Humans have 80 muscles in their faces, which means our faces can make thousands of different expressions.
You can tell a lot about a person’s emotions from their facial expressions.
Everyone has had interactions with people who are mad, sad, happy, or any other basic emotion.
But a good habit is to start paying even closer attention to basic facial expressions.
If a stranger is showing negative facial expressions, you should get away as fast as possible.
Research shows that we can get a good first impression from a stranger within the first eight seconds of interacting.
This is done by watching the non-verbal clues.
Use your awareness of these same non-verbal clues to help you decide if someone could be a threat.
Now, if it’s clear to you that an attack is imminent, you need the ability to defend yourself – whether you’re armed or not.