Well before I met my now husband and became a personal defense advocate, I was a true crime junkie. In the years since I've noticed that there is significant overlap in mindset and observation. Where true crime ends is where self defense must pickup.
Watching Violence Unfold
Whether it is an interest in the macabre, or a curiosity at the fates of others, both true crime fans and members of the 2A community are in a regular habit of watching violence happen to others. There are countless true crime podcasts, documentaries and docuseries, and books available today. Many Americans are in the regular habit of taking in media that is about the misfortune of others.
While taking in the watered down violence that is true crime is better than living in ignorant bliss, it does nothing to prepare you for real, actual violence. I remember the first video I saw of someone being shot and dying. I cried for awhile in shock. In the Armed Parent/Guardian you watch videos of violence happening to children. Active Self Protection and others are known for sharing violence and commentaries. I'm not convinced that watching actual violence gets easier, but I know that it makes me all the more determined to not be a victim.
Whatever the motivation, media like this bursts the ignorant bubble of safety we love. It opens our eyes to the violence and danger in the world we live in. This awareness forces us to be aware of our surroundings, and ultimately will decide how we prepare for violence.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Listening to true crime podcasts is when I first really began to realize that violence was everywhere and it happened to normal people. There are too many stories of women like me being trafficked, raped, and murdered. What really sets me a part from them?
Both camps have accepted that violence is everywhere, but I've noticed that only the 2A community has accepted that violence will actually find you.
One of the biggest differences between the true crime community and the 2A community is the mindset surrounding violence.
Speaking from personal experience, there is still very much a mentality that while violence is everywhere, it won't happen to me. That mindset is what made me content being in more dangerous areas and allowed me to trust disproved ideas of what would protect me in a violent encounter. When violence occurred in front of me I was shocked, and my response was to freeze.
Being aware of violence existing in the world isn't enough to prepare yourself for its reality in your life. In the True Crime fandom there is more emphasis put on what to do after you go missing, or after violence happens to you, than what to do to mitigate it all together.
"Violence will find me today". For many members in the 2A community the mindset is that violence will find us today, therefore we must be prepared. It is a deeply misunderstood mindset that is often mistaken for paranoia and fear. We need not ignore that one in three adults will experience interpersonal violence at some point in their lives (and that is just reported violence). By believing that today is the day we experience violence is just mental preparation for when it happens.
Response to Violence
The biggest failure I have seen in the true crime fandom and community is giving utterly useless advice for when we encounter violence. What are we supposed to do? What are our options?
"Be weird. Be rude. Stay alive." is the motto of my preferred true crime podcast. These same podcast hosts talk about the importance of "if I go missing folders", which we should all have. But what about avoiding going missing? What if being weird makes us a bigger target? What if being rude brings violence to us?
While it is a semi-catchy saying, it offers nothing to actually protect us from bad people. True Crime was my first exposure to the reality that I don't have to be friendly with everyone, but later I learned that there is a big difference between not being friendly and being a bitch.
I am a conceal carrier, I carry pepper spray, and there is so much more than I can, and arguably, should do to prepare. There are classes available that teach more than "That's my purse! I don't know you!" In the past two years I have taken classes that teach how to use pepper spray, how to manage unknown contacts, decision making, how to shoot, how to not shoot.
I want to learn how to escape holds, and gain the physical advantage in a fight. I want to know how to do anything possible to live and make it safely home to my family at the end of the day.
Final Thoughts on True Crime and 2A
As much as I still find entertainment in true crime podcasts, and documentaries, I definitely view it with a more critical eye. I let these stories teach me, and motivate me to not be a victim. I am so thankful that I have had the opportunity to learn about the different ways I can defend myself.
I never want to go back to the person I was before I learned that I can defend myself. I am thankful for the 2nd Amendment, and the great equalizer. There is so much hope when you train and carry the tools to defend yourself. There is no hope for one that only is interested in true crime.