I have really struggled for a few years now to find the words to sum up how I felt about this book and to write a proper review, having given up I’ll just be blunt: damn this book is amazing.
Originally I had picked this book up from a recommendation on reddit during a discussion about victims protecting themselves. Given some of my past experiences with domestic violence and harassment, I decided to take the recommendation and purchased it immediately. I devoured the book within a week and by far, this is the one book that I have recommended to other people the most. I have honestly taken much of the information from this book to heart and applied it to my life. I’ve even used the knowledge I gained from this book in order to give some practical advice to people I’ve met over the years that were dealing with the types of conflicts listed in the book.
“As the most powerful people in history, we have climbed to the top of the world food chain, so to speak. Facing not one single enemy or predator who poses to us any danger of consequence, we’ve found the only prey left: ourselves.”
The single strongest message of the book is to trust one’s own instincts, particularly when in situations that could be potentially dangerous, and to never disregard any sinking or bad feeling that one might get. The author tries to separate fear from anxiety and highlight how our natural fear response is often our best weapon to predicting various outcomes. He uses multiple examples from high profile celebrity cases to police reports he had dealt with personally to explain his points and give advice on how to handle various scenarios from stalking, harassment, domestic abuse, and in general how to avoid conflict. One of the great explanations of the book was also about our justice system and how it often fails victims (because it is reactionary, not preventative) and how certain protective measures such as restraining orders actually work against the victim and escalate conflict.
This book alone has made me rethink the “self help” genre and opened me up to other great books ever since. At times the book could be a little bit repetitive, but it was only to reiterate the previous points, particularly about trusting yourself. I can’t recommend this book enough, even for those that may not necessarily have gone through or are going through difficult times, I find it better to be prepared and to know the situation that I’m facing rather than waiting until I’m already neck deep in trouble.
Title: The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence
Author: Gavin de Becker
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: 1997
In this empowering book, Gavin de Becker, the man Oprah Winfrey calls the US’s leading expert on violent behaviour, shows you how to spot even subtle signs of danger – before it’s too late. Shattering the myth that most violent acts are unpredictable, de Becker, whose clients include top Hollywood stars and government agencies, offers specific ways to protect yourself and those you love, including: how to act when approached by a stranger; when you should fear someone close to you; what to do if you are being stalked; how to uncover the source of anonymous threats or phone calls; the biggest mistake you can make with a threatening person; and more. Learn to spot the danger signals others miss. It might just save your life.