top of page

Free Online Violence Prevention Conflict Resolution Training

Be the first to know- access the latest courses, ideas and events.. Subscribe

NJ Preparedness: Spotting The Top 7 Pre-Incident Indicators For Personal Self Defense

Updated: Feb 20

In today's world, personal safety is a paramount concern for individuals of all walks of life. While learning self-defense techniques is crucial, the ability to recognize pre-incident indicators is equally essential.

These indicators offer valuable insights into potentially dangerous situations, allowing individuals to take proactive measures and avoid potential threats. In this article, we will explore the top seven pre-incident indicators that can significantly enhance your personal self-defense awareness.

Avoiding Violence – How to recognize it before it happens! Recognizing the 7 Pre-Incident Indicators to Violence could save your life! Lets clear some confusion and define both "Pre Incident Indicator" and "Pre Attack Indicator" to see how they differ.

NJ Preparedness: Spotting The Top 7 Pre-Incident Indicators For Personal Self Defense
NJ Preparedness: Spotting The Top 7 Pre-Incident Indicators For Personal Self Defense

"Pre-Incident Indicator" and "Pre-Attack Indicator" are terms often used in the context of security, threat assessment, and risk management. While they may sound similar, they have distinct meanings and implications:

  1. Pre-Incident Indicator: A "Pre-Incident Indicator" refers to any observable or detectable sign, behavior, or event that may suggest the potential for a broader incident, threat, or crisis. These indicators are often identified through vigilant monitoring and analysis of various factors. Pre-incident indicators serve as warning signs that something could go wrong or that a situation might escalate.

For example, in the context of security, a pre-incident indicator could be an individual exhibiting unusual behavior, making concerning statements, or engaging in suspicious activities that raise concerns about their intentions or potential actions. Detecting and acting upon pre-incident indicators can help prevent or mitigate a potential crisis or threat from materializing.

The action that occurs moments prior to the attack. They are the techniques used to initiate the attack on the victim. These are indicators that are used to alert potential victims that an imminent attack is about to occur.

  1. Pre-Attack Indicator: A "Pre-Attack Indicator" specifically refers to signs or behaviors that may suggest an individual or group is planning or preparing to carry out an attack, whether it's a physical attack, or any other form of aggression. These indicators are more focused on the actions and behaviors directly related to an impending attack.

In the realm of security and threat assessment, pre-attack indicators could include activities such as surveillance of a target, acquiring weapons or tools for an attack, movement, or conducting reconnaissance on a potential target location. Recognizing pre-attack indicators is crucial for preventing violent incidents or acts of aggression before they occur.

While both "Pre-Incident Indicators" and "Pre-Attack Indicators" involve identifying warning signs to prevent potential harm, they differ in scope and focus. Pre-incident indicators encompass a broader range of behaviors or events that could lead to various types of incidents or crises.

Pre-attack indicators specifically relate to behaviors indicating an imminent attack or act of aggression. Both concepts are essential for effective security and risk management, allowing organizations and individuals to take proactive measures to maintain safety and prevent harmful situations.

Top Seven Pre-Incident Indicators

1. Unusual Surveillance or Observation

Be attentive to anyone who appears to be monitoring your activities for an extended period, especially in repetitive patterns. Unusual surveillance may involve individuals who seem out of place, staring intently, or maintaining constant visual contact.

2. Invasive Questions or Information Gathering

Pay attention to individuals who ask probing questions about your daily routines, lifestyle, or personal information. Strangers seeking an excessive amount of detail may have ulterior motives.

3. Evasion or Avoidance Behavior

If someone consistently changes their route or actions to avoid encountering you, it could be a sign of potential threat. Evasive behavior might suggest they are studying your movements or planning an ambush.

4. Testing Boundaries

Individuals testing your boundaries by invading your personal space, touching you without permission, or making unwarranted advances are displaying signs of potential aggression. Establish clear personal boundaries to deter such behavior.

5. Overly Aggressive Behavior

Excessive hostility, verbal threats, or displays of anger should not be ignored. Overly aggressive behavior can indicate a potential for violence and should be taken seriously.

6. Unusual Dressing or Concealing Objects

Be cautious of individuals wearing inappropriate clothing for the environment or attempting to conceal objects that could be used as weapons. Bulky clothing in warm weather or unusually large bags may indicate hidden intentions.

7. Inappropriate or Intense Fixation

People who exhibit intense or inappropriate fixation on you, your possessions, or your companions may pose a threat. Trust your instincts and maintain a heightened sense of awareness around such individuals.

Identify Pre-Incident Techniques That Bad Actors Use

Pre Incident Indicators are the collection of events or psychological manipulations that may are employed by the bad guys. They are tools predators use to draw in victims to utilize our next definition the Pre Attack Indicator.

In the book by Gavin de Beckern “The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence”. The book demonstrates how people should learn to trust the inherent “gift” of their instincts or intuition. Recognizing the various warning signs and precursors to violence, it becomes possible to avoid violence.

Techniques Used: How To Potential Threats Before They Happen

Generally, being alert and having good situational awareness, spotting anomalies; seeing and recognizing the clues that could indicate an attack is imminent. These are actions lets review the what are the little details to look for.

Gavin de Beckern book his The Gift of Fear suggests looking for these common schemes that criminals use to get off victims

1) Charm and Niceness. Predators disarm victims by being polite in order to manipulate them.

2) Too many details. The predator will lie by creating and communicate excessive details about themselves to make them seem more creditable and important.

3) Typecasting. The predator will draw in the victim by initiating a conversation by saying something insulting about the victim that they would otherwise have ignored. As an example “Oh, I bet you’re too stuck-up to talk to a guy like me.” Typically the victim falls for this trick and will engage to try to prove the insult untrue. Here are eight other types of bait used by predators. Predators use typecasting to draw victims in by initiating a conversation by saying something insulting.

4) Loan Sharking. The predator extended unsolicited help to a victim and makes the victim feel obliged to extend some reciprocal trust, openness, and relations in return.

5) Forced Teaming. Forced teaming is a technique utilized by predators to make themselves appear to have things in common with their victims to gain their confidence and let their guard down. The predators will deceive and exploit the victim's trust with the goal of ingratiating themselves with their intended victims. appearing to have the victim’s best interests at heart.

Words and phrases used to exploit victims are the repeated use of “we” or "us". predators will use other terms indicating rapport or close relationships when interacting with victims when there is little or none. Predators will also use contrasting terms to put other groups of people in opposing silos as outsiders. The Joint use of both the "we" and "them" techniques are an indicator of forced teaming.

6) Unsolicited Promises. The unsolicited promise is the number one most reliable red flags due to its nearly always of dubious motive. A promise to do (or not do) something when no such promise is asked for; this typically means that such a promise will be broken.

The second example: an unsolicited, “I promise I’ll leave you alone after this,” typically means the chosen victim will not be left alone. Likewise, an unsolicited “I promise I won’t hurt you” usually means the person intends to hurt their chosen victim.

7) Discounting the Word “No”. Refusing to accept rejection; not recognizing the word “NO”.

The best defense against any of these is not to engage and reverse course away from the zone that the predator is operating in. If you find yourself already drawn in and speaking with someone. Once you become aware of these techniques be used on you, put yourself in orange alert and disengage, and move on.

Violence Prevention and Conflict Management Resources

The Center for Violence Prevention and Self-Defense Training (CVPSD) is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing evidence-based training in violence prevention and self-defense. With a focus on unbiased program development, CVPSD offers customized programs to individuals and organizations, equipping them with the tools to enhance personal safety and contribute to violence prevention in their communities. The Center reaches individuals and communities through partnerships with schools and other nonprofits, community groups, as well as classes for the public.


bottom of page