This week I’ve been seeing a post bounce around Facebook warning about a possible predator/cosplayer who is apparently scaring other cosplayers by being aggressive in his communications to the point where he’s even threatened to kill. Being dressed in a Nazi uniform, I’m sure is no help. So with it being con season I thought I’d touch on the subject of staying safe at these public events. Many years ago, my wife was assaulted at gun point and lived to tell about it. For this reason among many others, we’ve been students of the martial arts for some years now so this is a big deal to us. I love to teach kids how to stay safe and do it 3 times a week for this reason.
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So how would you stay safe at a Steampunk Con or any other con for that matter?
Here are some simple things you can do to stay safe. Some are common sense and things you may already be aware of.
Be aware of your surroundings.
The first thing you should always do when entering any kind of structure or building is find out where the nearest exit is or think of how you would get out if there was an emergency. This can even work outdoors. Always be on the lookout for a way to get away before the situation arises. Train your mind to do this so that it becomes second nature. It’s not paranoia. I’ve been doing this for so long that I don’t even think about it anymore.
There’s is nothing more embarrassing to a would-be aggressor than an evil-eye from a good friend. You can ward off an aggressor simply by having a buddy nearby. The bad guy is able to be identified.
Watch out for each other.
Keep your eye on any suspicious type while looking away.
It’s called peripheral vision and we all have it. We just don’t put it into good use. Practice having a friend stand to the side of you and hold up their fingers. See if you can guess the number of fingers they’re holding up and hone your peripheral skills.
Do not engage!
Don’t try to talk the unbalanced person down unless you have had prior training. I’m not trying to get folks not to be friendly here but to be cautious. If something is obviously off about the person, walk away. If he insults you, walk away. When it comes to FB, don’t engage in conversation. It’s not worth it. You can find out gobs of personal info on FB.
Got a parasol? A Steam Rifle? How about a Coil Eruptor? Or better yet, a cane? Use it! It does not matter how big the guy is.
There are two spots that will always incapacitate them and those are the eyes and the groin. If the situation has escalated to the point where you fear for your life then the throat is an option.
Here’s a list of would-be self-defense weapons:
- Hat pin.
- Rolled up magazine or comic
- A fan.
- A hooked cane.
- Your shoe.
- Hand bag.
- Diamond ring.
- Chronicles of Riddick Death by Tea Cup
Don’t have any of these? That’s OK. Find what we call an “environmental weapon” which is anything that happens to be laying, sitting, standing next to you. A cup, a mug, anything! If he puts you in a choke hold bite into his arm as hard as you can. The police will be able to match his teeth marks with yours. If you’re afraid of catching something after breaking the skin ask yourself if you’d rather live a long life with herpes than ending your life right then and there. After this, stomp on his foot or kick the knee. Believe me, it doesn’t take much to incapacitate someone. It only takes the will to act! Know what your target is!
Identify and Tell the Authorities
This is important primarily because you don’t want something worse to happen to you later or to someone else.
Special thanks to Melinda Mitchell of The Filigree Toad and Pirate Fest Las Vegas (and a martial artist herself) for adding content to this post. and to Alyssa Scharich for having the courage to write the post.
Leonardo Ramirez is an author of Science Fiction and Steampunk. Visit Leonardoverse: Science Fiction for the Human Condition for more info.You can support his work by purchasing The Jupiter Chronicles, now available for 5.99. Click here now to buy.