How to Deal With a Threat

Three Methods:Assessing the SituationManaging a Non-Immediate ThreatHandling an Immediate Threat

You may encounter many types of threat over the course of your life. Some threats are urgent, immediate, and violent. Other threats are non-immediate, but just as potentially harmful. Evaluate the decision and figure out what you need to do to keep yourself safe. Act quickly, calmly, and rationally.

Method 1
Assessing the Situation

  1. Image titled Deal With a Threat Step 1
    Gauge the urgency of the threat. Decide how certain you are that the threatening person will follow through on his or her words. There is a wide margin between a threatening note and a man standing in front of you holding a knife. The way that you react will necessarily depend upon the immediate danger of the situation.
  2. Image titled Deal With a Threat Step 2
    Evaluate the situation. If the threat is immediate, then quickly and calmly look around you for potential defense mechanisms and escape routes. If the threat is more abstract, then try to get a clearer picture of what exactly is going on. Make sure that you understand why you're being threatened and what the actual risk is.[1]
    • Why are you being threatened? If you don't know, ask. If you can't ask, then speculate.
    • Do they want something from you? Consider giving a threatening person what he/she asks for. You never know how desperate someone is, and it is senseless to be killed over the contents of your wallet.
    • Who is the leader of the group? If it comes down to you against them, then the leader may be your first target.
  3. Image titled Deal With a Threat Step 3
    Assess the area. Are you familiar with the lay of the land? Are you under CCTV surveillance? Do you have a chance of escape? This will strongly define the actions that you take to deal with the situation.

Method 2
Managing a Non-Immediate Threat

  1. Image titled Deal With a Threat Step 4
    Talk to the person. If you personally know the person who is threatening you, see if there's a way to resolve the situation without escalating it any further. Strike a deal, if you're being blackmailed or asked for something. Discuss the situation face-to-face and try to come to a mutual agreement.[2]
    • Figure out whether you're being threatened for something valid. Perhaps the person thinks that you did something that you didn't do.
    • Don't be too proud to apologize. A good apology can defuse some of the tensest situations.
  2. Image titled Deal With a Threat Step 5
    Deal with blackmail. Blackmail is still a threat, even if it is nonviolent. The way that you respond will depend upon what the person is holding over you and how much you have to lose. Make sure that you don't give in before you've considered other ways out. If you feel confident, take a stand.[3]
  3. Image titled Deal With a Threat Step 6
    Tell someone. Make sure that you aren't dealing with this alone. As soon as possible, involve someone that you trust: a teacher, a parent, a friend, a partner, a coworker, an authority figure. Together, you stand a better chance. Show the person any threatening messages, and make sure that he/she knows exactly who is threatening you.[4]
  4. Image titled Deal With a Threat Step 7
    Get a restraining order. If there is no other way to defuse the threat, then consider obtaining a court order for the person to stop bothering you. You'll need to prove the truth and urgency of the threat, and file a report with the local police department. You can ask for an order for the person to stop specific behaviors, or you can ask that the courts restrict the person from coming near you.
    • Once you have a stay-away order against a person, he or she cannot come within a certain physical range of you – often on the order of 50-100 yards. This may not stop the threat if the person is desperate enough, but it will at least create a legal barrier.[5]

Method 3
Handling an Immediate Threat

  1. Image titled Deal With a Threat Step 8
    Act nonviolently when possible. Try to handle the threat by giving in, or escaping, or talking your way out of the situation. You may find that people are much more reasonable than you expect.
    • Make a compromise or a deal. See if there is a way to deescalate the situation so that everyone leaves happy and healthy.
    • Decide whether you have an escape route. If they are only facing you, then you might run backwards. Run towards other people, there is safety in numbers.
    • If there is no nonviolent way to escape, then you may need to defend yourself. Be prepared for this, but try not to make it your first reaction.
  2. Image titled Deal With a Threat Step 9
    Defend yourself. Be realistic about your chances. If you are outnumbered or otherwise outmatched, then it might be wise to first explore nonviolent solutions. Remember that violence is never a guaranteed method of dealing with someone. Once you escalate the situation, it may be very difficult to safely cool it back down.[6]
    • If you are under CCTV surveillance and you plan to fight your way out of the situation, then you want the threatening person to make the first move. However, if you are outnumbered, and one or more of them is armed in some visible way, then this may be enough to justify your actions.[7]
  3. Image titled Deal With a Threat Step 10
    Take down the leader. Try a kick to the groin, an elbow to the ribs, or a well-placed punch. No points for style or fair play – but if you put all your strength into it, he/she should hit the deck fast. Now you need to think again.
    • Run now, if possible. Move quickly away through the space you just created. If you're lucky, the rest of the group will be momentarily distracted.
    • If you can't get away, then you need to get something in between you and the rest of the group. One of the group will do nicely. Grab the closest one by the throat or neck—you want to be behind him so he is not in a good position—and make sure that you are hurting him enough that he won't attack you. Try grabbing his ear with your other arm and pulling it as hard as you can.
  4. Image titled Deal With a Threat Step 11
    Fight for it. Keep the fighting close and dirty. Dart in and out again, and don't let them grab you. You're finished once one or two of them catch hold of you. Run as soon as you get an opening.
    • Kick the back of your "shield's" knees down to the floor in a very powerful stamp. Ideally you want to break something. You then need to deal with the others in a similar way.
    • Try to go for unexpected targets. The knee is very weak, and can easily be broken with a kick.
    • Sucker punches to the jaw can lay someone out, but they are so very expected that it's unlikely to come off.
  5. Image titled Deal With a Threat Step 12
    Contact the authorities. Tell the police or a security guard about the confrontation. Alternatively, use your cellphone or a payphone and call the emergency services. Do your best to accurately describe the situation: when, where, and what the threatening people looked like.[8]


  • If you are being mugged, to avoid tossing your real wallet to the mugger, keep the muggers wallet in the back pocket of your pants(or front) and your real wallet in another pocket.
  • Keep a decoy "mugger's wallet." If you do happen to be mugged on the street, toss—not hand—your "mugger's wallet" over to the mugger. Then, run. If you toss the decoy over, then you have more time to escape. The mugger will most likely be more interested in the contents of your "muggers' wallet" than in you.
    • Add fake credit cards, fake checks, and perhaps even a few bills of real cash. This might keep your mugger satisfied for long enough that he/she cannot chase after you.
    • Keep the "mugger's wallet" in the pocket of your pants. Keep your real wallet in another, less visible, pocket.
  • If a punch is required, remember to make a proper fist: closed tightly, with the thumb tucked on the bottom, not the side. Practice by turning your hand to face you. Close it with your thumb on top of your curled fingers, not next to them. Strike with a tight fist or you run a greater risk of injuring your fingers and hands.
  • Get proper lessons in martial arts. Practice gives confidence, style, and power.
  • If you are untrained in any martial arts, and have not hit many people before: try using low, football-style kicks to knees and ankles. Your punches will be weaker. Maybe even work on your punching and kicking technique in case of a possible confrontation.
  • Be aware of vulnerable spots to hit if you need to seriously hurt someone. Moving up from the feet: ankles, knees, groin, stomach, floating ribs, collarbone, throat, jaw, eyes, temple. Be especially careful with the throat, eyes, and temple unless you are very desperate or very sure that you wish to dangerously injure someone. Strikes to these areas can be lethal.


  • If you know the attack is coming, avoid the people/place/things that will spark the confrontation.
  • Always try to get away from the situation before resorting to violence.
  • If you are involved in any "underground" activities (drugs, "birds of the night", gangs) make sure you're always in good company. Don't get in over your head.
  • Carry a cellphone with you at all times. You might not be able to use it in front of your attackers, but it will come in handy later on. Call the emergency services immediately using your cell phone if they've managed to injure you in any way. That cut you got from the guy in the dew-rag might end up giving you a disease.

Article Info

Categories: Self Defense