Pre-emptive defensive action
Can I hit someone first in self-defence?
This is a question that many are uncertain about.
In practical terms, action beats reaction; pre-emptive action increases our options and chances to get out of dangerous situations safely.
In legal terms, the short answer is yes, pre-emptive strikes are covered under the law on self-defence. If you can justify it and articulate why you thought that was a necessary action under the circumstances, you may be able to claim self-defence.
When you claim self-defence, you are admitting that you did do something that is normally against the law, but arguing that you had a good reason to do so.
But what if I misread the situation?
This is a concern that can hold us back from taking decisive action, sometimes when it would be legitimate and our best bet. The nature of self-defence means that we may have to take decisive action based on limited information, in very little time.
But also consider that: you can take medium pre-emptive steps. It doesn’t have to go from zero to taking the person’s head off:
You can pre-emptively leave, pre-emptively scream, pre-emptively create space, or get into a position that protects you a bit more.
You don’t have to wait for the other person to move through their progression before you take action. Don’t play their game. Change the rules.
In the context of self-protection, and in life, you don’t have to wait for things to get really bad before you take action. Taking action earlier often allows us to deal with a less difficult or less dangerous situation.