Allow me to introduce you to Gavin de Becker. De Becker is a global expert in prediction and management of violence. He and his firm have provided security to world leaders including US President. Considered a global authority on the subject of threat assessment, he teaches at University of California and chairs many boards on security and terrorism. You can learn more of his work at

De Becker has written a couple of books and developed a few methodologies like the famous MOSAIC methodology that helped police in USA address increasing spousal violence. His first book “The Gift of Fear: Survival signals that protect us from violence” is an all-time best seller and challenged many conceptions around fear as a weapon against violence. The book is long. You may not have the time. Read a summary to begin with here.  

De Becker’s primary domain of work is against violence against women, Sexual violence. Spousal violence. Terrorism. And violence in society in general.

In these very uncertain times globally, let us ponder on some things that de Becker tells us. He says, we have forgotten to rely on our instincts to look after ourselves. We believe there is someone there, the government, the police, the doctor, the scientist who is protecting us. But often these authorities come very late in our lives in times of crisis. And we trust technology. Alarms, high fences will protect us from danger. They were built to do a job. Protect us. We believe. And we neglect the most important signal that should drive us. Our intuition. Our gut-feeling!

His famous quote from the Gift of Fear runs thus: intuition is always right in at least two important ways: it is always in response to something; it always has your best interest in heart.

The argument that de Beer puts is not around the power of our intuition but the lack of our trust in our own trust on our own gut feeling. He proposes that in fact trusting one’s intuition is the exact opposite of living in fear. He says, real fear does not paralyze. It energizes. And enables one to do things that normally one could/ would not do.

He illustrates this by a story of an attempted rape victim. A trapped victim’s reaction when her attacker said that he was going to the kitchen, her intuition told her to tiptoe him to the kitchen. And as the coward opened the drawer to look for a knife, she made a break for the front door and ran away. Later in her recollection she spoke of her intuition to follow the criminal but she had no recollection of any time when she was afraid.

Another wonderful theory that de Becker proposes is around an act of violence. He refutes the theory that some humans are born criminals. He says that there is nothing called a criminal mind separating some people from others. In fact, according to de Becker every human is capable of committing violence. It is how he or she justifies it that matters and is different. And he says that an act of violence is not always a spurt of the moment act. Rather it is a chain of thoughts and acts. 1) Justification, a judgement that one has been intentionally wronged. 2) Alternatives, there is no other way but violence to seek justice or redress. 3) Consequences, the decision on whether one can live with the consequences of violence and 4) Ability, the confidence on the power of muscles, brain, bullet or bomb to achieve their ends. And he concludes on this almost dramatically, violence is predictable. Almost as much as that water will come to a boil.

I will end by stating two last statements from de Becker. One on spousal murder. De Becker had said that most spousal murder does not happen in the heat of the moment. It is usually a premeditated decision.

And the final statement of de Becker, which for me is framed in mahogany in my heart. And I will quote it as it is “I will encourage people to remember that “no” is a complete sentence.”

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