Drawing the Line
Establishing a non-negotiable boundary that, if crossed, gives you permission to take action is what I refer to as Drawing the Line. You need to decide in advance what this will be and not wait until you are in a potentially threatening situation. This may consist of lifting your arm straight out, spreading your fingers open to make your hand appear wider, and saying, “I need you to back up” or “You are making me uncomfortable” or “I need you to leave” or whatever you decide in advance will work for you. This may seem like a very simple step – and it is – but this is a very powerful step. So there is no excuse for not doing it. The very act of raising your hand and telling the perpetrator to stop does several things. This changes your mindset from victim to victor – you are taking charge and setting some hard rules, and you are preparing to keep yourself safe. It also tells the predator something – that you are not a soft target, that you will not be easily manipulated, and that they should think long and hard before bringing violence to you.
Doing things to keep yourself safe when someone is trying to violate your boundaries will likely feel uncomfortable. If you notice a threat quickly, you may even feel rude by drawing a firm line as this is not how most of us interact on a daily basis. To maintain safety in a world with wolves, you must get rid of concerns about appearing rude. Focus your mind on the red flags you have noticed to help you identify the threat. Remember, a skilled predator may be determining what type of victim you are even before they approach you. You are being auditioned for a role you don’t want to get. Show them by your body language, tone, and actions that you are a hard target and picking you will cause them more hassle than it is worth. It is my strong opinion that you have nothing to lose by drawing the line early, using a firm voice to instruct the person to leave you alone, to hold your arm out, or to dial 9-1-1.
In my case, I kept doing what I was told to do during the kidnapping because I mistakenly believed that keeping the kidnapper calm would keep me safe. Not true. Trying to cooperate with him so he would stop hitting me only landed me in an isolated place where he almost stabbed me to death. Your willingness to draw the line will drive away a safe person with innocuous intentions and may possibly drive away a predator. If the predator then strikes, you know they were going to strike anyway. They were simply waiting to lull you into a false sense of safety so they could strike without notice. Using your mindset and awareness to quickly identify when someone has violated a boundary may give you more time to use other tools in your toolbox to maintain your safety.