City of Laws, or City of Individual Armed Compounds?

There were 39,000 property crimes reported to the police in Atlanta last year. Think about that.  That’s more than 100 a day.

Now think about how many more crimes there would be if people weren’t constructing armed compounds around themselves, at enormous financial and psychological expense.

I read a neighborhood post yesterday that really made me think.  A woman reported that she was alone in her house with her baby when somebody rang the doorbell in the middle of the night, then kicked in the door.

She grabbed her child, went to a secluded place, and hid there while dialing 911.

That’s really smart.  I probably would have headed right for the front door to see who was there, which could have been disastrous in this case.

A second incident was also reported on the website — starting with a doorbell ringing in the middle of the night.  So be prepared to act defensively if somebody rings your doorbell or knocks on the door at a strange time.

And think about how you would escape from your own house, if somebody came in through the front door, the back door, the garage.  Terrible to have to think this way, but there it is.


There is one self-defense book I think everybody should read.  It’s called The Gift of Fear, by Gavin De Becker.  Ignore the title.  It’s an important book because it actually trains you to listen to your instincts — not just to cope with situations that involve strangers, but also to evaluate the possible dangers from people you meet or know: intimate partners, potential dates, work colleagues, and so on.  De Becker isn’t paranoid, and he certainly doesn’t view all men as potentially violent towards women — none of that.  He simply teaches readers to “give themselves permission” to act on gut feelings by seeking safety.  You won’t hear me spout New Age lingo like that very often (not to mention the word “lingo”), but that’s his method.  And people nowadays need permission, sometimes, to react to an unexpected situation or to get away from an abuser.  We have been trained to be too sensitive towards all the wrong things: I think of all those people on the MARTA train studiously saying nothing while “MARTA Girl” threatened that elderly woman.

Much of the book is about anticipating danger.  If you know a woman who is in or has ever been in a violent relationship, buy her this book today.  It is better than talking yourself blue in the face, even if she is not ready to protect herself.  It will save both of you a lot of time.  If you have a daughter or son going off to college, or starting to date, make them read this book.  If you have friends moving to a new neighborhood, buy them this book, because people are especially vulnerable to crime when they move.  If you have friends or employees who work late in restaurants — well, you get the point.

If you’re going to do one thing to protect yourself, read this book.  It’s really that good.


4 thoughts on “City of Laws, or City of Individual Armed Compounds?”

  1. Tina, thank you for this post and encouraging people to consider how to react to something BEFORE it happens. I wanted to share with you two free, non-commercial resources located in the very neighborhood where those incidents take place that can help people take consructive steps to secure their homes, protect their families and live their lives:

    Safe Atlanta For Everyone (SAFE) – Founded in East Atlanta in response to a crime wave in the summer of 2008, this organization now operates five innovative programs (SAFEWatch, Graffitti Removal, Safety Tipsheets, Cookies For Cops/Food For Firefighters and Refuse To Be A Victim Seminars) across many neighborhoods in Southeast Atlanta. SAFE’s mission is to create positive ways for individuals to make their neighborhoods stronger and safer. All of SAFE’s programs are designed for “export” to other communities that want to be stronger and safer too. More information is available at

    No Victims – Started in early 2009 by a Southeast Atlanta resident in response to a demand for impartial, objective and effective crime-prevention and firearms safety information, No Victims publishes new articles every week designed to inform and educate readers about ways to secure their homes and protect their families based on real experience and careful research. All original No Victims content is available for syndication or reproduction under a Creative Commons license to allow community organizations, houses of worship and other noncommercial entities make this important information available to their members directly. No Victims’ founder is a certified Refuse To Be A Victim(R) crime-prevention seminar and Home Firearms Safety instructor and offers to teach these classes for no charge except the cost of the mandatory student materials. More information is available at

  2. Tina,

    I found a where the first chapter is posted online. I have added ‘Gift of Fear’ to my (rather long)list of books to read sometime. Have you ran across any web resources that cover some of his lists or have similar content?


  3. Hi Daniel,

    De Becker does have a website, and there are links pages and other information:

    Self-defense isn’t something I know a lot about. I’ve taken a self-defense class, and I thought it was a very good experience, particularly for anyone who’s never been in a fight before. What I took away from it was simply knowing what it feels like to try to hit someone as hard as possible.

    But it’s also good for showing women, in particular, that pretty much any man is going to be very hard to deter. Men just have that much more upper body strength. That’s another reason why De Becker’s insight about listening to your instincts is so important for women.

  4. Tina,

    Good stuff, I like his thoughts on listening to your instincts and lists of tell-tale signs that a person you know or a certain encounter may attack you. These are important to know to avoid needing to use self-defense.


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