Phase 2: Attack Part 1

This is the third post on the phases of an attack. Please follow the links to the Intro and Phase 1 before reading on.

Unlike the Pre-Attack phase, this phase consists of only one stage: execution. I don’t necessarily define execution as when the physical attack begins. I define execution as the onset or set up of an attack, which may or may not be physical. Attackers basically use two types of tactics: charm and blitz. Some attackers use charm to set up the blitz and others simply blitz. This is obviously the most dangerous phase physically, so it is color coded red.

When speaking of charm, we typically think of it as an adjective describing the way we see a person such as, “Wow, Josh is such a charming man.” We should be thinking of charming as a verb by asking, “Why is Josh trying to charm me?” This allows you to see into the intentions of the person instead of describing an individual trait. [1] Charming as a adjective is defined as “1. The power or quality of pleasing or delighting; attractiveness 2. A particular quality that attracts; a delightful characteristic.” As a verb, charming is defined as “to induce by using strong personal attractiveness.” [2] As you can see, as a verb, charming is clearly used as a way to manipulate. No matter how we define charming it is not a trait, but a way that someone chooses to act.

An attacker using the charm tactic is relying on social skills to manipulate the target into a position that is more vulnerable then they are currently in. In his book The Gift of Fear, Gavin de Becker describes several strategies that can be used by predators. Let’s take a quick look at a few them.

Forced teaming – Mainly about looking to create togetherness or rapport. One way that this is done is by using words such as “us,” “our” and “we.” [3-5/7-8] Forced teaming is not limited to specific words so don’t get wrapped around the fence. Instead, look at the intent. Is the person trying to create a bond or togetherness with you and why? This can be defeated by making sure that the idea of there being a partnership between the two of you is non-existent. Your response must be clear or even rude.

Discounting “no” – When someone ignores or refuses to accept the word “no”, they are refusing to give up control or attempting to gain control over you. [3-5/7-8] If you give in to him discounting your “no” answer, then you have just given him all the control. He will especially feel a sense of control if the “no” grows weaker as you refuse then eventually cave in. [3-5/7-8] Also, do not negotiate, this leaves room for possibilities. [3-5/7-8] Instead, clearly and confidently exclaim “no.” It could be something as simple as “I do not want you to help me” while holding an assertive posture. Do not be afraid to be rude. Your attacker is hoping that you will cave in and follow social conditioning.

Unsolicited promise – Promise is defined as “a declaration that one will do or refrain from doing something specified.” [6] By definition, it is simply a statement. It neither implies, nor states, any compensation for not keeping the promise. Promises only serve as a way for someone to convince you of something with only their words. [3-5/7-8] You should always stand your ground when you feel uncomfortable, as there is always a reason for it. Do not give in, because you were promised that he would/would not do something.

Typecasting – This attacks the targets identity or how the target views herself with a slight insult that is easily disproved. For example, “You aren’t informed enough for this conversation.” This is a small insult that is easily proved wrong but that isn’t what the attacker cares about. The attacker is looking for the response. If you respond, you may win the argument, but you open yourself up for a greater loss. Your response to the accusation is to simply ignore it. [3-5/7-8]

Let’s look at a few examples including one that goes badly and one that goes well.

Example 1:

You are moving boxes from your apartment to your car. A man you have never seen before happens to be walking by and asks if you need help. At first you say “No, but thank you.” He replies, “We can have these all down in a few minutes. What do you say?” Again, you say, “No thank you. I think I can handle it.” You start moving to the car to place the box you are carrying in the back. The man walks up to the back and slides the box further in and says, “Looks like you are having trouble with the heavy ones. I tell you what, I will help you with the heavy ones then leave. I promise. Or, are you the type to turn down chivalry?” You hesitantly agree and invite him up, where he rapes you.

Can you pick out the strategies from example one?

Example 2:

You are moving boxes from your apartment to your car. A man you have never seen before happens to be walking by and asks if you need help. At first you say, “No thank you.” He replies, “We can have these all down in a…” You cut him off and say, “ Look, I do not want or need your help. Leave me alone.” He looks upset and states, “ Oh, you’re that type, huh?” You ignore him, put the box in your car and go up to your apartment. You close and lock the door until he leaves.

As you can see from example 2, there is a chance that you may be able to deter the attacker. You may be wondering why I label this under phase 2. The reason is two-fold. Primarily, because the predator has completed phase 1 prior to approaching, and you are being attacked mentally. A good predator can make it so that the target chooses to fall into every step of his trap and have the victim believe that they initiated it every step of the way. [9] Secondly, not every predator will start with charm then blitz. Some will immediately blitz. I highly recommend reading Gavin De Becker’s book The Gift of Fear for more information on this subject. We will cover the blitz tactic on Phase 2: Attack Part 2.

1. Gavin De Becker, The Gift of Fear (New York, New York: Dell Publishing, 1997), 66.

2. Charming. (n.d.). The Free Dictionary. Retrieved January 01, 2014, from website:

3-5/7-8. De Becker, 64-73.

6. “Promise.” Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 2 Jan. 2014. <

9. Rory Miller Facing Violence (Wolfeboro, N.H.: YMAA Pub 2011), 40

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