Scott called in the early afternoon and wanted to get some strategy on a “potentially bad situation.” Scott was an experienced Black Belt. He was a bartender at the time, great people skills and he had been involved in a number of self defence encounters that he had handled verbally, physically, legally and ethically well. It was unusual at his level for him to be calling for advice in that arena but I was always happy to give him some perspective.
“My girlfriend told me that her ex boyfriend was going to come by her apartment tomorrow at 4 in the afternoon cause he knew I would be there and he was going to kick my %#@.” I laughed and said, “That probably isn’t in his best interest. But you should never underestimate anyone. What do you want to do?”
“Well, I was wondering whether you thought i should report the threat to the police or just see what happens? My girlfriend says I shouldn’t get the police involved and she wants me to just not be there but I won’t be bullied by him.”
Scott went on to tell me how the EX was a big guy, very physical football player and known for “fighting”. I said, “Let’s look at a couple of case scenarios. #1 You don’t report this, he comes over, you beat him up or he beats you up, the police get involved, your girlfriend is hysterical and you have a chaotic mess to sort out. #2 you call the police and report the threat, tell them you don’t want to press charges but just want to make them aware of it. You give them all the pertinent info: who, where, when, why and let them know that if he shows up you will use the reasonable force necessary to protect yourself and your girlfriend and will call them immediately. He shows up and no matter what happens the police know who the good guy is and who the bad guy is. He doesn’t show up, no problem but if anything happens at a later time you have on record the report. How does that sound?” “Much smarter…. and if i have the police on my side beforehand i can deal with the situation more assertively and confidently. I’ll go ahead and do that and let you know what happens. By the way, I’m not going to tell her i reported it.”
A couple of days later Scott dropped in and let me know that the police call went well. They even told him they would beef up the patrol in that area around the allotted time and to call them if anything happened. It was on record and they were aware he was the one being threatened. As it turned out, the boyfriend never showed up but Scott was prepared. As Sun Tzu would say in “The Art of War”,
“the warrior lies in wait for those who do not come.”
Years earlier I had a student who was attacked at school, he defended himself successfully but was suspended along with the attacker. His father went to the school board and said, “You can’t take away my son’s right to defend himself or punish him for defending himself by suspending him!” The school board responded that his son did have a right to defend himself and that they were not taking that right away BUT that his son had known about the potential of the approaching problem and had not notified any school officials who might have been able to circumvent or stop the situation from occurring at all. Because his son knew of the problem and did nothing, he was as responsible as the attacker.
When his father reported all this to me, I was reminded that conflict is never just between two people. It involves their friends, their families, schools, churches, law enforcement and the community at large. Reporting potential challenges is good civic duty and CYA. A year or so later another student ran into that same situation. he reported it to the school counsellor who called the other boy in and told him to stay away from said student. The next day the bully went up to him and said, “you ratted on me and I’m going to kick your butt.” The student dropped him with a kick to the solar plexus as the bully went to push him. Bully got suspended – good student did not and he was also praised for defending himself and NOT doing anything more than was necessary.