Statistically speaking, many of you will never get into a violent situation. Nevertheless, in exceptional cases it is useful to be mentally prepared for such situations. We do not have a patent remedy for coping with any kind of aggression, but we can give you advice and recommendations for de-escalating and weaponless conflict prevention and management, which have been proven by police experience.
The contact persons for behavior-oriented violence prevention of the Berlin Police Department teach in seminars and counseling events how to deal with aggression and violence in public spaces and how to deal with people who are prepared to use violence for public authority employees.
Behaviour in the case of violence and aggression in public places
Danger recognized, danger averted
Just as you can recognize and avoid dangers in road traffic in good time through anticipatory behavior, it is possible to avoid situations that could lead to aggression or violence at an early stage.
Trust your feelings
Emotions are often a „danger radar“. People usually notice instinctively that a threatening situation is imminent. Let your feelings guide you in such a moment. Fear, for example, is an important feeling. Do not try to suppress it. However, it is not necessary to be afraid all the time, since violence is very rare in individuals. Exaggerated fear of crime prevents the recognition of actual dangers.
Avoid the danger early on
The earlier you recognize a potential danger, the greater your chance of averting it. Consciously avoid people who seem dangerous to you. Keep your distance. On the street, change sides as a matter of course. In dangerous situations, get as close as possible to other people. In the dark, choose well-lit and busy paths.
Do something unexpected
Offenders usually expect a certain behavior from their victim. Try to be as self-confident as possible and show no fear. Do not get involved in the offender’s plan. If people are molesting you in order to provoke you, do not scold back, but simply go on without stopping. Amaze offenders with surprising actions. Fake phone calls with your cell phone, for example. Simulate illnesses, nausea or start singing loudly in order to disconcert the perpetrators.
Point out clearly and unambiguously that you do not want certain things, such as getting too close or touching. Do not provoke the perpetrator. Address the person in question as „you“ so that outsiders can recognize that you are being harassed or threatened by a stranger.
Crimes are usually committed where the perpetrators feel undiscovered and where they do not have to fear prosecution or the risk of discovery. Get the perpetrators out of anonymity and make their misconduct public. Involve other people (e.g. other passengers on the subway, pedestrians). Scream and draw attention to your situation. Other people must be mobilized. Speak directly to people from whom you want help. Say specifically from whom you expect what help, e.g: „You in the red jacket, call the police!“. Many are willing to help.
Escape the situation and the perpetrator
Use every opportunity to escape as quickly as possible. Move away from the perpetrator’s field of vision if possible to avoid further attacks. Escape to where other people are.
Help without endangering yourself or others. Everyone can help
When you help in dangerous situations, it is important not to put yourself in danger. The following points have proven to be effective and safe:
- Alert the police immediately. The emergency call is free of charge.
- Speak directly to other people: „We help together now“.
- If necessary, leave the place with the victim.
- Offer the victim „safe places“ (the place next to you, your car, your business premises, etc.)
- Scream loudly, this makes offenders feel insecure and attracts attention.
- From a safe distance, shout loudly in the direction of the perpetrator: „I have called the police“.
- On public transport: Pull the emergency brake or inform the driver.
- Remember the appearance of the offender.
- Make yourself available as a witness.
- Do not stop fleeing offenders.
- Do not physically or verbally attack the perpetrator.
- Keep your distance.