Bad Victim Advice for Teens

Here are Fight Back Productions, one of our primary goals is to encourage an open dialogue about safety, an issue that is too often swept under the rug as unnecessary (denial) or sensationalized to the point of being more harmful than helpful (intimidation). To that end, we welcome questions through our Web site,, and make every effort to answer each question in a public forum such as this blog so that as many people as possible can benefit from the information. We’ve all heard it before, but chances are, if you have a question, someone else has the same question and would love to hear the answer.

Recently, we received a question through from a mother who is concerned that her teenage daughter thinks she is invincible and does not take safety and violence prevention seriously enough (walking down dark streets alone at night without a second thought, etc.). How could this mother help her daughter understand why avoiding unnecessary risk is so important, she wanted to know?

One of the most important aspects of living a safe life is simply being what we call a “bad victim.” This means making yourself a harder target for criminals of violent or malicious intent. Put yourself, for a moment, in the mindset of a “scary bad guy” (who, incidentally, doesn’t have to be a GUY at all, but could be a dangerous character of any gender, race, age, social status, etc.). If you’re headed out with the intent to, say, steal a woman’s purse, everyone you encounter as you seek your target is part of your “victim pool.” In this victim pool, you, as a scary bad guy, have two choices: “good victims” (easy targets) and “bad victims” (hard targets). Who do you think the bad guy is going to look for? Of course! The good victims, or easy targets.

If we start to think about what kinds of behaviors characterize easy targets and avoid those behaviors, we can avoid much of the risk that’s associated with violence. For example, an easy target might be alone in an isolated place (as the author of our email described her daughter). Easy targets might be distracted by their cell phones, iPods, lost car keys. They might be dowtrodden, shuffling, looking insecure or vulnerable.

As we start to recognize these key good victim characteristics, we realize how easy (and how important!) it is to make simple choices that cast us as a bad victim: we can avoid being out alone at night in isolated areas, put our phone calls and music on hold to pay attention to what’s going on as we walk around and walk tall and make eye contact with people we pass, choosing to be aware of our surroundings.

If we make these small changes in the way we interact with the world, we instantly become a “bad victim,” and greatly reduce the risk of becoming a victim of violence.

Being a “bad victim” can be taught to teens as well. However, it has to be conveyed in a way that is cool, practical and will make them look/feel strong. While there is a lot of fear-based self-defense advice available, most teens tune out when they hear it, because its delivered in a tone they don’t connect with. Our advice for helping teens live safe is to give them a copy of our book or DVD, both of which speak the language of young women today.  Buy here online:

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