ARTICLE | YOU SURVIVED. WHAT’S NEXT | by Orjan Pettersen
Updated: May 26
Win, lose or no overall victor, if you are forced to defend yourself there will be consequences as a result.
These can be physical, psychological, legal or financial. They can affect you, your family, your friends and your work. There are no extra upsides, no prizes in street violence and self defence - except of course to survive, in itself the biggest ‘prize’ of all.
This is why avoiding using the fighting solution in self defence and rely on pre-fight skills such as situational awareness and conflict management are the preferred solutions for intelligent self defence practitioners.
Much has been written about the short, medium and longer term consequences of having to defend yourself with violence. In this short article, we’ll focus on the immediate aftermath of violence. That is, the first few minutes - and what you should do.
As soon as you’re reasonably safe after the encounter, this is a sensible five-point checklist:
CHECK YOURSELF FOR INJURIES. Pat yourself down and look where you can, touch and look at your hands for signs of blood loss. Feel for pain and test mobility of joints. Having had first aid or first response trauma management training would be very useful at this point.
CHECK OTHERS INVOLVED in the same way. If they are injured, don’t move them unless trained to do so, but apply any first aid skills you have.
CALL THE POLICE (and medical assistance if needed). I assume you’re innocent and only acting in true self defence at this point, as criminals generally don’t call the Police. When you call, be aware your recorded call is legally admissible evidence in any future court case. Do not say anything that would incriminate you, considering at this point any shock and adrenaline spike may have caused a distorted memory and reduced communication clarity on your part. If you caused injuries, do not say what you did, but only that you were attacked and there’s an injured party. Not having a full explanation is fine at this point, victims of violence are often in shock and you are not expected to provide a statement of what happened yet. If the person who attacked you is still nearby, explain this to the Police.
CALL YOUR OWN (self defence knowledgeable) LAWYER. You need a clear and legal position to assist you from this point. They are experts and can guide you.
WAIT IN A SAFE PLACE until the Police arrive, or explain under point 3 where you will be. Criminals flee the scene to avoid legal repercussions, victims not so.
Having followed the advice, you have at least checked - as far as you’re medically able - that you are safe and you’ve secured that when the Police arrive, you - as the person left standing - is not automatically viewed as the criminal perpetrator of the violence, which would often be the case in violent encounters.
At this point, the after-effects of the adrenaline-rush, more spiky in men and slower to build and dissipate in women, may kick in, resulting in emotional reactions, shaking, physical breakdowns or lethargic feelings.
If this is occurring, explain it to the Police and wait to give statements until it’s brought more under control. Indeed, only give statements unless you can explain the IMOP principle (Intent, Means, Opportunity, Preclusion) very clearly and how your violence was unavoidable and the least possible level of force required.
In most cases, as your memory is foggy and your emotions volatile from the shock of the incident, you should engage with your lawyer before saying anything.
Remember the five points. Hopefully you don’t need to use them. But, just like self defence, it’s part of your insurance policy.