Facing Violence by Rory Miller (a book)

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Facing Violence by Rory Miller (a book)

Post Number:#1  Postby TWW » Thu Oct 03, 2013 6:14 am

This is sort of a a book report meant for the training reference material section. If you are not interested in training you won't find much of value here. I am writing this since it is the first time I have run across someone trying to put violence into some kind of classification scheme so people can understand it better. Different situations require different responses. We have all heard about situation awareness but what does it really mean? How do you know something around you is a potential threat rather than someone who is different than you are? This book helps a little in that area and it is why I tried to summarize Miller's chapter on classifying violence from the book without getting a visit from the copyright police

Rory Miller, author of Facing Violence: Preparing for the Unexpected (2011) worked as a correctional officer about 18 years then as a contractor in Iraq and has written a series of books on violence.
Miller also has a web site at http://chirontraining.blogspot.com/

Miller says there are seven elements that must be addressed before self-defense training gets close to being complete. He says any training missing any of these areas leaves its students lacking.


1. What are the legal and ethical implications of violence.

2. Violence dynamics is studying how attacks happen.

3. Avoiding violence includes avoiding it completely, escaping and evasion and also deescalation to avoid violent encounters from happening at all.

4. Counter-ambush is where the potential victim cannot see a violent attack coming and how you should train for it.

5. Learning how to handle your body freezing which Miller claims happens to nearly everyone.

6. The fight itself.

7. What comes after in the legal, psychological, and medical arenas.

What follows here is a summary of chapter 2, Violence Dynamics, on the dynamics of violence from the book. You rarely find a way to classify violence so that is why I am focusing on it. (If you have read the review I wrote of Rob Pincus' Combat Ambush distance learning program you may remember this area was what the review said was a deficiency in the course). You will have to read Miller's book to get exact details on the other areas listed above.

Dynamics of Violence

Social violence in the animal world involves the same species. Within the same species violence is different in tactics than violence against other species. This violence can be ritualized jockeying for status or space. It serves to prove or increase group solidarity and violence to enforce the rules and rules of conduct for the group. Social violence does not targets the victim as a resource like money. Asocial violence is what predators do and for humans the humanity of the victim does not enter into the picture.

Miller may have originated the term the monkey dance. Many animals have fighting rituals they use to show which male is in charge. These rituals have a series of steps built right in the animal's genes to keep the conflict from killing the combatants.

In the human version Miller calls the monkey dance there are a series of steps: 1)someone stares at someone, 2)the person being stared at says something like “What you looking at?” , 3) The people approach each other sowing signs of adrenaline starting to flow like arm swinging or chest bobbing, 4) the two people square off with perhaps more verbal exchanges and then one makes contact like shoving or an index finger to the chest. This step may repeat until someone starts hitting.

The Group Monkey Dance (GMD) is a way for people in a group to show their loyalty to the group. One form of this is showing who owns territory. Insiders try to keep outsiders from messing with the group's business. One odd example is how couples turn on the police who attempt to stop domestic violence. Miller says you see this type of behavior in chimps and baboons who band together to drive away or scare off members of another tribe or a predator. If you don’t help out people may think you are not loyal to the group.

In another more dangerous version of the group money dance (to the victim) the victim is sometimes a true outsider but also could be an insider who someone thinks has betrayed the group. The group bands together in an orgy of violence hurting the victim. People try to show how loyal they are by showing how much damage they can do to the outsider. Miller does not say this in his book but the knock-out game where one or more people beat on someone not one of them seems like an example of the group monkey dance (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knockout_(violent_game) for a little more information but though probably not the best source).

Educational beat-down
Miller got the name of this form of violence from one of the guests at the correctional facility he worked at, The guy was beaten for not obeying the rules set up by the other guests. Quoting the book: “It was sort of an educational beat-down,” the guest said. The guest got a message on how to behave and acknowledged he understood. Miller says in some groups, this is normal. People use casual beatings to enforce community standards.

Status seeking show
If a young bad guy brutally beats a foreign tourist in a way that shocked bystanders and the victim think was a random explosion of violence, the reality was it was not random. Miller says in marginal societies, like the criminal subculture, having a reputation to 'go-off' ' means other people treat you better since they do not know if you will explode on them next.

Territory defense
Defending territory happens to monkeys as well as in groups of humans. For humans the territory may also be a concept like the flag of a country. 'Othering' people is a key concept. David Grossman in his books talks about the problem armies have had in getting their own soldiers to kill other people. People are usual loathe to kill fellow humans. But othering changes all that so violence is easier and stronger when you can other people. When you are convinced other people are like animals, you can smash and kill with less conscience. Even if you can’t think of the victims as animals if you can think of the other people as very different, they still no longer have the right to be treated like people in your own group. Miller thinks the gangs he worked with in correctional facilities were based on race because is easier to other people who look different. Miller says defending territory is both social and asocial violence. It fits in both categories at times.

There is a second form of violence in Miller's classification scheme called asocial violence. Some of these people are the pure predators also called sociopaths. They do not think of fellow humans as humans. They do not follow the social contract most people normally follow. Like wolves these predators do not see their victims as fellow people, but as resources. When attacking their victims these people use the surest and safest way to get what they want. Miller says these people will take every advantage, rely on speed, surprise, ferocity, and weapons to try to keep victims from from responding and to keep any response victims make as ineffective. Unlike wolves these predators usually act alone.

There are two types of asocial predators according to Miller. First is the resource predator. A resource predator wants something and decides to take it from chosen his victim. He might use use violence, but often just threaten violence if he thinks that will get the job done.

The second type of asocial violence is the process predator. To those people acting of violently is the reason for an attack. According to Miller the crime itself is the goal. Rapists, the serial killers, ritualistic torture murderers are process predators unlike muggers, car jackers and robbers since this is what resource predators do.

There are two strategies asocial predators use: charm and blitz. The blitz strategy uses speed, power, and position to take control of the situation before the victim can respond. The blitz can be physical as well as just psychological intimidation.

With a charm strategy, the predator uses his social skills to get the victim in a vulnerable position. It can be as simple as asking for the time can distract the victim or as complex as a pick-up artist seducing a woman so he can kill her. When the charming predator gets his victim into a private place, like his car out in the woods or her own home, he can then drop his charm and begin his blitz with the immediate attack or intimidation.
It never happens to anyone – until it does.
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Facing Violence by Rory Miller (a book)



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