Norway has a low murder rate. Much lower than in the United States. Therefore, it’s a bit shocking that in 2011 a 33 year old Norwegian gunned down 69 people, most of them teenagers. Anders Behring Breivik described the massacre he committed very calmly during the initial stages of his trial. He explained that he chased teenagers room-by-room and shot them dead on an island summer camp at the ruling Labor Party’s youth camp on Utoeya Island. Breivik said he shot most of his victims several times, using the first shot to take them down, and then following up with a shot to the head. “When I make a follow up shot, his (victim’s) cranium bursts and there are brains flowing out. I remember that very well”, he said.
Breivik started the slaughter on the island after arriving by boat dressed as a police officer. And what was the reason for the massacre? He decided to use violence to alert Europeans to what he considered the loss of their culture to Muslims.
Many victims were shot as they tried to swim to the mainland a little over a mile away. Breivik recounts, “Calmly I raised my rifle . . . and shot from a distance toward these people. I know that I hit at least four of them.” Some of his victims, he said, appeared paralyzed before he shot them. “I walk towards a group of 10 who have stopped. They have stopped running and just lie down. I go to them and shoot them all to the head. They were paralyzed most likely.” Unbelievably shocking . . . to most people. And thus, the purpose of this article.
For many years I have taught and written about the phenomenon of people becoming paralyzed and frozen in fear when confronted by major violence. Becoming literally frozen in fear is common—common for untrained men and women and it does not make someone a coward, less, or weak. Most people who have not seen gross violence up and close in their face have no real clue what it is like. As an example, when a wild-eyed maniac hollers at the top of his lungs at the average American saying that he is going to beat their faces into a bloody pulp—utter shock hits and overwhelms many of them into inaction. Or if someone starts shooting others and then starts coming towards them, some people become totally overloaded and completely freeze—and die. This happens commonly in these multi-shooting situations.
You see, real vicious violence is so unusual to most people in our culture that we walk around thinking that life is all cutesy and the biggest problem we have to deal with is a lying politician or a rude boss. In other cultures where graphic violence is seen often and up close and where life is cheap, this phenomenon is not seen as much.
However, there are three relatively simple ways to prepare to be able to help ourselves out of a serious violent mess. Understanding and regularly affirming them daily or weekly will enable us to handle major violence that may come our way:
1. Understand and affirm that from this moment forward: Terrible acts such as witnessing someone being stabbed, shot or beaten may occur in front of you or it may very well occur to you. That horrible is out there and that gruesome, shocking and ugly incidents may occur in your circle, even today. This affirmation is the basic foundation to help save your life.
2. Believe from this point forward: That you will be able to do something when and if terrible enters your world by relying on your life-instinct to run, fight or to use a tool or weapon to “make it”. Weapons can be chairs, scissors, pens, keys, and cups, anything that can cause pain and or distraction against an individual trying to harm you. God given, or if you prefer, nature given, survival abilities will come forth when you bypass the phenomenon of freezing, which will happen because of your affirmations, which essentially are reminders for your mind to ACT against these gruesome possibilities that may confront you.
3. Commit: To the fact that you will fight back or take positive explosive action no matter how bad, ugly or shocking the situation is that you’re confronted with. Fighting back of course means fighting, but other positive survival actions could also mean running away or as a wise man once called it, advancing to the rear or hiding in a truly secure area to save your life—whatever works for you for that particular incident. You will ACT, no matter what the manner, and you will prevail, no matter what comes your way. This affirmation is crucial and again, prepares your mind for what it will do when terrible occurs.
These tips work. The average person who doesn’t deal in a violent world or who is not trained how to deal with it can be overwhelmed when confronted by it. Knowing, understanding and affirming these three tips will help you survive. I recommend writing out a short script encompassing the steps in your own words that make sense and that hit home personally. Affirm them often. Help your mind to be able to react when ‘ugly’ hits your way.
I recommend that you consider getting training from professionals in how to survive mass shootings or other violent acts. Getting specifics on what to do will help you if the need ever arises.
Mass shootings aren’t going away anytime soon. Other types of violence confronting the innocent aren’t going away anytime soon either. You owe it to yourself and to your loved ones to survive. You have a destiny in your life no matter who or what you are. Survive. You deserve it.
Steve's a three-time survivor of violence in his youth and was an award winning police officer.
For several years, Steve also did radio political and current event commentary and taught college Criminal Justice. He is the former host of the long running 'The Kovacs Perspective' Internet radio talk show.
Presently, Steve is the owner and Managing Director of one of the oldest martial art schools in Ohio, 'The Mayfield Academy of Self-Defense'.
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