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Now that you have learned and practiced your awareness skills, let's talk about what to do if you become aware of something that is not right. Awareness alone will not keep you safer. You have to do something. This is where awareness and avoidance come together. Once you are aware of something that doesn't seem right, you must act. It could be as simple as locking a door or something more dynamic such as running away from an imminent threat. Most of the time avoidance is more subtle.

For instance, you are walking down a sidewalk and notice (awareness) an alley entrance up ahead. You have a few options. One, you can walk past the alley and hope there is no one lurking in the shadows. Two, you can continue to walk but move as far away from the alley entrance as you can on the sidewalk giving you more reaction time if there is a threat in the alley. Three, you can give yourself distance and illuminate the alley entrance with a bright flashlight. Four, you can cross the street and walk on the opposite sidewalk. Options two through four contain some form of active avoidance.

Avoiding danger can also be sequential. Here is an example. A group of young adults decide to have a get together at an apartment. They have a few drinks and socialize.

- No problem so far. They are at a safe location and no one is significantly impaired.

The group decides to go to a local bar/pub/club. After a couple of hours, a couple of the members of the group are a bit tipsy but the group is still together.

-The risk has gone up slightly but the group can still take care of its members

After another hour or so, one or two members of the group are visibly drunk and the other members are tired and want to leave.

- This is a critical crossroads in avoiding risk.

Option 1: the tired members of the group encourage the drunk members to go with them and they all get home safe. (Best Option)

Option 2: the drunk members of the group convince the tired members to leave them and they tell them "they are fine." (Risky Option)

After some arguing, one of the drunk members goes with the rest of the group and one stays alone in the bar.

- Now you have a drunk person alone in a bar with no one looking out for them. The risk has gone up to a serious level.

The drunk member has a few more drinks and leaves the bar only after it closes and decides to walk home.

-The risk now is at a critical level.

A friendly stranger offers to walk with them and they disappear for several days.

Their body is found a few days later. The "friendly" stranger is arrested and convicted of murdering the drunk member of the group.

-The situation described is a factual account of several incidents involving young adults out with "friends". The chain of events could have been broken at several points and these young adults would still be alive today,

If you are with a group of friends, be a friend and make sure all members of the group stay safe.

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