Self-defense: the types of aggressors

Know your enemy

As we have repeatedly said (read Best martial arts for self-defense), in no case self-defense, even the most advanced (serious training, sparring, psychological factors, prevention, etc.) is able to:

  • Magically put ourselves away from danger
  • Guaranteed to prevail in every situation

Anyone who claims otherwise is either naive or more likely a scammer (read Recognize a good / bad master: 5 characteristics).

Given this, to reduce the percentage of critical contexts that we are not able to face, it is useful to analyze and understand what often characterizes the most common types of aggression:

  • Reasons
  • Contexts
  • Mental mechanisms

Until we limit ourselves to grouping all the types of “bad guys” in a single group, we will have great difficulty both in preventing both in managing the risks linked to our safety (and to that of the people around us).

Understanding what is behind a so big aversion that “justifies” the threat (or the actuation) of a physical aggression can instead be the key to drastically reducing its occurrence.

The “profiles” of the aggressors

In this regard, here is a list (purely as an exemplification and without any pretense) of the most common figures of aggressors (drawn up through discussion with members of law enforcement, victims, etc.):

  • The robber – It can be, for example, a person with a low cultural and / or intellectual level; the aggression can be dominated by envy, by the desire to prove superiority or in other cases directly by hunger; his idea is rarely linked to the wanting of applying violence (he normally try to avoid it at any cost) but he may be ready for anything to preserve his psychophysical integrity
  • The rapist – It can be, for example, a person with a very strong and frustrated sexual desire that in 99% of cases he could control but that, because of his weakness, he does not block; his idea could be that of not being caught in the act and of being able to take advantage of a defenseless prey
  • The domestic aggressor – For example, he can be a cowardly person who can not manage his emotions in relation to the people he thinks belong to his sphere of influence; his desire to impose himself and his reasons (even if absolutely controllable) leads him to practice violence on people with whom he has a close confidential relationship (children, consort, grandchildren, etc.); his idea could be being protected by the direct relationships with his victims
  • The mentally disturbed – The figure of the mentally disturbed does not respond to any recurrent pattern in terms of motivations but even him is subject to the law of desire; the goal to have and / or to be something, to have or not to be something or still to perceive or stop perceiving certain sensory signals can lead him to violating (through a distorted cognitive structure) the integrity of others
  • The vindictive – In many cases he can be a very insecure person who hides his weakness behind a screen of (even only temporary) aggressivity that he could control but which he does not try to limit; for him to suffer a wrong (from betrayal to prolonged gaze, from overtaking in car to mockery, etc.) represents an unpardonable point, a deprivation of dignity, a public demonstration of his inadequacy; this type of aggressor does not find peace until he re-establishes (to his advantage) the disparity suffered
  • The bully – He can often be a person with serious cultural and social deficiencies that finds in violence the way to express his own inadequacy; for the mere fact of being stronger (or more protected) he / she feels the desire to impose himself on the others also (and not only) through brute force; confusing fear with respect, his goal is to appear strong in front of others; without even being fully aware of it, he feels real pleasure in tormenting and subduing those who are weaker than he, almost as if those who are not able to defend themselves were not worthy of existing, as in this way he can free his frustrations

It’s important to underline that for each kind of aggressor we always say “he can be” and not “he is” in relation to the various characteristics. We never have to forget that all people are different, we will never find stereotypes like the ones we described but, as it happens for crime investigations, general profiles are useful to have a first trace to work on.

Final notes

In terms of personal defense (read Personal defense: the S.A.F.E. method), understanding these mental dynamics (linked to the desire and the inability to control it) does not put us directly away from their occurrence but allows us to lay the groundwork for:

  • Prevention – The ability to avoid the most of possible aggressions
  • Negotiation – The ability to survive to an aggression without using violence
  • Self-control – We are the only person that we can (and we must) control

In conclusion, it is important to emphasize that:

  • The subject is extremely vast and full of facets not simplifiable in stereotypes of any kind
  • The ones we have seen are just examples of each type of aggressor listed (not the general rule, there is an infinite number of variants)
  • There are also many other categories (organized structures, etc.) and sub-categories of aggressors (military / paramilitary, gangs, etc.)

In the next article of this series, we will deepen the topic.

In-depth articles


Reply in the comments and share your experience:

  • How do you control an aggressive undue instinct?

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