Predicting aggression and understanding when a person’s behaviour is about to turn to actual physical violence is a key skill that all front line security officers have to learn. This article will give you an idea of what to look for, in order to be able to do this.
In a situation that is escalating, the aggressor will often become more angry and emotional about his position. This of course is also exacerbated if the aggressor has consumed any drugs and/or alcohol. As a door supervisor, it is vitally important to watch the person carefully in order to be prepared for when the situation may turn violent. Body language is obviously a key indicator for this, giving you pre-warning of potential physical violence.
Signs that indicate a shift in temperament to one of violence include, extended use of eye contact from the aggressor, a change of facial expression to one that is more threatening, a raised voice, shouting and profanity. Change of body stance with the legs shifting and the head tilted back in a position to lunge. At this time, arm and hand movements could be exaggerated, as the aggressor moves closer preparing to fight.
In the role of a door supervisor you will learn to recognise these signals as preparation for violence, and in time gauge the level of threat that a person possesses. In this way you can prepare yourself accordingly, both physically and mentally for an attack, and in the way of gaining support, summoning assistance from either other colleagues of if necessary the police.
However, when these situations do occur, and you are confronted with a violent person, ultimately the door supervisor has to prepare himself for physical attack. Again, body language will give vital clues as to the intention of the aggressor. Areas to watch out for are as follows.
As stated above, the head is normally held slightly back while a person shows aggression, however, just before a physical attack the head drops forward in an automatic motion to protect the throat.
They say that the eyes are the window to the soul, and whether that be true or not, they certainly do aid a door supervisor in that they can give important clues as to what an aggressor is thinking.
During the first stages of aggressive behaviour a person’s pupils dilate. However, at the point the aggressor is about to attack the pupils will contract in a reaction to the feelings of anger and hatred. A sudden contraction of the pupils is a great sign that a door supervisor should immediately take the appropriate defensive action.
Eye contact is also an important tactic for Door supervisors to use themselves. When on the verge of facing an attack, direct, unbroken eye contact can be enough to dissuade a person from actually attacking. Training and experience will give you the tools to do this. When used alongside other assertive body language techniques a door supervisor can often persuade the aggressor that they are confident in the face of any attack, and it really would not be worth their while in doing so. This confidence can make the aggressor reconsider, is it really worth them attacking you if you are ready to defend yourself?
Another important signal to remember is that just before a person hits something it is only natural that he looks at it first. If you see your aggressor’s eyes suddenly twitch to your stomach area or chin or cheek, you should prepare yourself for him to strike you there.
A person’s lips will often tighten over their teeth just before launching an attack. The lips can also pull back showing clenched teeth. Both are signs that the aggressor has reached the point where an assault is imminent.
It is natural that a person’s face is flushed with colour in moments of anger or stress. However, if during a conflict, the face suddenly drains of colour, it could be a sign that a person has reached a stage of complete loss of control. This can be dangerous as in such a state a person may be very unpredictable. Again, the use of physical violence on the part of the aggressor becomes more likely.
In a need to draw more oxygen before the physical exertion of conflict, a person’s breathing will visibly deepen when they are about to attack. You will be able to see the chest rise and fall with greater depth and speed, another vital sign indicating you should prepare yourself.
The upper limbs of the body will naturally tense just before a fight. A person’s shoulders will rise, the arms will bend at the elbow and of course the main tools of attack, the aggressor’s fists will be clenched and raised above waist height. If the situation has reached this stage, it is pretty obvious the person is about to attack.
Even an inexperienced fighter will naturally alter their body position into the best position to attack. Turning their body so it is at a slight angle to yours, with the fist that the person wishes to use raised and ready to strike. Also, to be able to lunge at you, the aggressor may drop slightly on the front foot, the spring action naturally supplying the punch with more force.
All of these signs can take place, and must be read almost subconsciously as you do your job as a door supervisor. Right up to the point of attack, your job is to try and prepare yourself at the same time as attempting to diffuse the situation so that no physical violence takes place. At the end of the day, no wants that outcome. It generally means the involvement of the police with more paper work and a longer shift for you. (The aggressor after all may end up with an unwanted night in a police cell).
The next part of our guide will look at just that: How to diffuse a situation of potential violence so no one gets hurt.