Situation awareness is the representation of a situation of danger prior to making the decision.
The name comes from the first half of the last century. It arises from the experience of fighter aircraft pilots to orient, decide and act within situations that evolve rapidly. Pilots are prepared to recognize the environment and the presence of friendly and enemy forces, assess the situation and decide the best response. The most important part of that training is mental control so as not to be overcome by stress.
Over time, this experience has been applied to very different situations in civil life.
Terrorist attacks and crimes with violence have spread in almost all countries. Especially vulnerable are women, both for sexual assaults and for abusers who do not accept separation from their partner.
The administration of Justice and the police forces are not enough to guarantee the safety of their citizens. It is necessary that the threatened themselves and their relatives contribute to their safety by complementing public safety.
The first step of a threatened person is to refuse to become a victim.
The second step is to trust people to analyze their specific situation, gather evidence and report threats or abuse to the authorities.
In this context it is where it is convenient to understand and prepare to practice situational awareness.
Levels of situation awareness
0. Lowest level of attention, when one knows that there is no danger and can relax at all, like being at home resting in the armchair.
1. Basic level of situational awareness. Just take a look around, in case you see something abnormal. You can be in this state indefinitely without stress.
2. Consciousness focused on something that seems out of the ordinary and could be a potential threat. You have to observe it carefully and look for any other suspicious element. You also have to look for where to protect yourself or who to ask for help.
3. Maximum alert, imminent danger. It is when the threat passes from potential to real. Be quick to act: by taking cover or asking for help. And in a boundary situation (1), escape or attack. This state is very stressful. It is very dangerous to remain in it, because then inevitably falls into the last state.
4. Mental collapse. It is the state that must be avoided, because one becomes the greatest danger to oneself. When you stay too long on maximum alert, you panic or paralyze into a mental state of collapse, unable to think or move. This situation must be avoided as it may be. We see in the news that it happens to most people who are not prepared, when an attack occurs or a loud noise is heard and they all flee in terror in droves.
The situations of danger are, like any situation, populated with possibilities. It is bad to obsess over danger, but it is even worse to act as if it did not exist(2). In those situations, who is in danger needs real friends and lean on them to not lose control.
A battered woman is more at risk than under terrorism. Because the terrorist kills people who belong to the category of enemies. He does not mind killing a specific person. They often choose their victims at random and change targets when they encounter some difficulty.
Living threatened by an abuser is worse. Because an abuser personally hates the woman who tries to get away from him. If he becomes obsessed with doing as much damage as possible, he becomes a very dangerous enemy. He can choose to attack his children, to make him suffer more.
The threatened woman must report it to the authorities and request protection. But she must also prepare herself, trusting her family, friends and neighbors to build a margin of safety around herself and her children. At present, there are mutual support organizations that can advise and train them to face their specific situation.
The key of personal protection is the conscience and dignity of being a survivor and not a victim.
(2) Goto: Jaspers: Boundary Situation