Why Everyone Needs to Read “Facing Violence”
by Daisy Luther
In preparation for my Urban Survival course in Croatia with Selco, one of the books that we were assigned to read was Facing Violence: Preparing for the Unexpected, by Rory Miller. I wasn’t familiar with Miller’s work before this, but now that I am, I look forward to the arrival of his entire collection.
Miller takes a philosophical look at the patterns of violence. The patterns are important because if you can quickly identify what kind of violence you’re facing, it will help you make crucial decisions that can mean the difference between a beating or a discussion, or even between life and death.
Why everyone should read this book
Violence is not just something that happens to other people. According to the National Institute of Justice, millions of Americans become victims of violent crimes every year. Here’s a snippet of their analysis.
Broad studies have revealed certain trends within crime and victimization patterns. Adolescents are most likely to be victimized. Men become crime victims more often than women do, and blacks experience more crime than other racial groups.
NIJ’s research on intimate partner (domestic) violence found that certain approaches tend to reduce recurrences of violence. For example, permanent protection orders result in a significant decrease in violence.
Some research has focused on particular groups of crime victims, such as immigrants. That research has shown that immigrants were no less likely to report most crimes than other people are, despite potential obstacles such as language and cultural differences. However, immigrants who experienced domestic violence often did not report it to police. (source)
But just because you don’t fall into one of those categories, it doesn’t mean you’re safe. For example, some statistics say that violence against women has increased dramatically over the past few decades. On the other hand, it could just be that women are more likely now to report violence perpetrated on them because they’re more likely to be taken seriously these days. Intimate partner violence, sexual violence, stalking, and teen dating violence are all increasingly reported.
More than half of American women have been victims of violence
More than half of all women surveyed by the NIJ reported being victims of some type of violence when the questions were reframed and legal terminology was removed.
Surveys that frame questions within the context of crime do not necessarily provide representative data on respondents’ experiences with violence against women, in part because people do not always self-identify as victims of crime.
To address this research gap, in 2000 NIJ partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the National Violence Against Women Survey (NVAWS). The survey revealed that more than half of the surveyed women reported being physically assaulted at some point in their lives, and nearly two-thirds of women who reported being raped, physically assaulted, or stalked were victimized by intimate partners.
For two reasons, this survey has been consistently cited as a more reliable representation of rates of violence against women than surveys that frame victimization within the context of crime. First, the NVAWS did not rely solely on reported offenses because the vast majority of crimes go unreported. Second, the survey was designed to ask detailed, behavior-specific questions about respondents’ victimization experiences. By asking questions that avoid legal terms (for example, “rape”) and instead asking about a perpetrator’s specific behaviors (for example, “slapped,” “pushed,” and “shoved”), the survey avoided attributing blame or labeling respondents as victims. (source)
And keep in mind that when it comes to domestic violence, it is not only women who are victims. Men account for 24% of domestic violence victims.
Then there are violent strangers.
While most violence is committed by people known to the victim, millions of violent encounters are between strangers.
In 2010, about 1.8 million nonfatal violent victimizations were committed by strangers…Violent victimizations committed by strangers accounted for about 38% of all nonfatal violence in 2010. Simple assault made up the majority (60%) of victimizations committed by strangers during the year, followed by aggravated assault (20%), robbery (17%), and rape or sexual assault (2%). From 1993 to 2008, among homicides reported to the FBI for which the victim-offender relationship was known, between 21% and 27% of homicides were committed by strangers and between 73% and 79% were committed by offenders known to the victims. (source)
Would you realize you were dealing with a potentially violent stranger before it was too late? Many people would not and that is exactly where the book Facing Violence can help you.
Getting out of a violent situation
When you are in a potentially violent situation, the goal should be avoiding violence. Three strategies for that are escape, de-escalation, or avoidance. But it’s difficult to back down when you feel like your honor or your self-respect are on the line. According to Miller, you must ignore the “monkey” in your brain that is urging you to teach your potential aggressor a lesson. And that can be a difficult monkey to ignore. As a recovering smart-a$$ myself, I know that walking away without a scathing comment can be difficult to impossible. This is what Miller refers to as a “monkey dance.”
When you understand how violent encounters unfold, it becomes easier to walk away. If you understand the “monkey” in the other person’s brain is chattering away just as loudly as yours is, you can use this knowledge to de-escalate many situations and allow the other person a “face-saving exit.”
But not all violent situations are monkey dances and these outliers are likely to be the most dangerous. This is where Miller’s genius really shines. By identifying the goals of the attacker, you can quickly enact the strategy most likely to keep you alive and unharmed.
Does the attacker want your resources or is the crime itself his goal? If it’s the crime itself, that is the most dangerous of all violent scenarios. Examples of this are rapists, and people who kill or torture because they enjoy it.
Miller has a lot of experience with violence.
Miller draws on his long experience with violence to provide examples and scenarios. He has a broad and varied history in dealing with violence. His bio explains:
Force is a form of communication. It is the most emphatic possible way of saying “no”. For years my job was to say “no” sometimes very emphatically, to violent people.
I can make it sound more official, but in the end I was paid to go into volatile situations, usually alone and usually outnumbered by sixty or more to one and prevent inmates from preying on each other or attacking my fellow officers.
That was the job.
I have been a Corrections Officer, a Sergeant, a Tactical Team member and a Tactical Team Leader; I have taught corrections and enforcement personnel skills from first aid to physical defense to crisis communication and mental health. I’ve done this from my west coast home to Baghdad. (source)
His philosophical perspective on dealing with violence is fascinating and it reinforces the fact that your mind can be your most valuable weapon.
Cons to the book
It’s difficult to find cons in a book that I think was 99% pro but in the spirit of a balanced review, here are a couple of things.
There is a section in the book of self-defense photos – I skipped over that because I don’t have much of a martial arts or fighting background and I think you’d need it for those movements to make sense. For people like me, in-person self-defense training is essential – I wouldn’t want to rely on something I saw in photos in a book that I’d never practiced on a person. However, those with more experience fighting may get some good ideas from this section.
Some of the ladies who took the course said that this book was emotionally difficult to read due to their own personal experiences with violence, and I noticed in the reviews some people who made similar comments. The book is not overly graphic but definitely describes in detail some very unpleasant situations.
I was not at all upset by the book, but then again, I research and write about horrible things every day, so I have developed the ability to distance myself emotionally from things that bother most folks. Maybe I’m somewhat inoculated against being emotionally affected by it but it’s worth mentioning that sensitive souls might want to read this in bits and pieces as opposed to straight through. Even if you’re sensitive – and perhaps especially if you are – the philosophies in this book are too vital to be ignored. You need to understand violence to protect yourself from it.
Why I recommend this book for preppers
As I mentioned before, this was recommended reading before the Urban Survival course that I took in Croatia. When Selco’s co-instructor, Toby Cowern, sent out a list of four books we should read, I ordered them all from Amazon and dove in. This was the third that I read and while all the books were good, I couldn’t get enough of this one. I kept reading little snippets of wisdom from the book to my daughter. (That girl is so patient.) Out of all the books, this is the only one I re-read and with the second reading, I took away even more.
I have personally been in a few tight situations – I wrote about one of them here – and when reading this book, I was reminded of certain decision points in my own experiences. I could clearly see some places in my past where I instinctively did the right thing and other places where my decisions were poor and I only got out unscathed by sheer luck.
I think it’s a must-read for anyone in the preparedness world. Some of us tend to have a blind spot for the possibility of violence and feel a bit too secure, cocooned in our homes and safe neighborhoods.
While we’d like to feel as though we are insulated from the violence of the world in our bug out retreats, homesteads, and well-secured homes, we need to understand that violence can happen to anyone. It can occur when we’re out picking up supplies or when we are at home and there’s a knock at the door. We need to teach these valuable lessons to our children too, because understanding the different types of violence and how to deflect them are essential parts of survival.
Not just now, but if and when the SHTF, violence in an aspect that should not be overlooked. To omit this from your preparedness endeavors is to leave a gaping hole that could get you or the ones that you loved killed. And note: just because you have a gun doesn’t mean that you can’t be a victim of violence.
I whole-heartedly endorse this philosophical look at violence to anyone who wants to be better prepared. Facing Violence is a book that should be on every prepper’s bookshelf.
More from Rory Miller
Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, gun-toting blogger who writes about current events, preparedness, frugality, voluntaryism, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, The Organic Prepper. She is widely republished across alternative media and she curates all the most important news links on her aggregate site, PreppersDailyNews.com. Daisy is the best-selling author of 4 books and runs a small digital publishing company. She lives in the mountains of Virginia with her family. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.
About the Author
Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, gun-toting blogger who writes about current events, preparedness, frugality, voluntaryism, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, The Organic Prepper. She is widely republished across alternative media and she curates all the most important news links on her aggregate site, PreppersDailyNews.com. Daisy is the best-selling author of 4 books and lives in the mountains of Virginia with her two daughters and an ever-growing menagerie. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.