The Two Types of Human Predators

There are two basic types of human predators, and you sometimes need to handle them in different ways—so it’s smart to learn the difference.

by posted on September 16, 2022
Predator Man Breaking Into Home

Much like there are two broad types of assaults, there are two basic types of human predators you are likely to encounter. If you hope to get out of a violent situation without using your concealed carry firearm, you need to know how to respond to the particular type of predator you are facing—and the way you handle the two types of predators can be very different. It’s important that you’re able recognize the signs of each type so you know what you’re dealing with and how to respond before a situation forces you to go to your gun.

This is a concept I encountered in the book “Facing Violence: Preparing for the Unexpected” by Sgt. Rory Miller. He defines the two types of human predators based on their motivation for committing violence. The first type, resource predators, commit violence because they want something that you have, and they think violence is a good way to get it. The second type, process predators, commit violence because they enjoy violence for its own sake.

Resource Predators
Resource predators want something from you—your purse, your car, money, whatever. Muggers, burglars and most home invaders are in this category. You’ll know you’re dealing with a resource predator because he will ask or demand that you give him some physical thing. A resource predator often (but not always) starts his crime with the threat of violence rather than going straight to committing the violence, perhaps by pointing a knife at you and demanding your wallet. He hasn’t harmed you, but he’s made it obvious that he’s perfectly willing to do so. He’s also given you crystal-clear instructions on how to handle this situation, and that’s your best shot at dealing with a resource predator: Give him what he wants. Throw your purse, drop your wallet, get out of your car and let him have it, or tell him where you keep the prescription drugs in the house if that’s what he’s demanding. In many cases, this ends the encounter. In the resource predator’s mind, it’s transactional: Give him what he wants and the transaction is over, so he goes away.

It’s important to realize that resource predators can and might still hurt you even if they get what they want. Perhaps they don’t want to leave a witness, they don’t want you to be able to follow them, they panic and pull the trigger in haste, they want to establish some street cred in front of a fellow criminal, or whatever. Although giving him the physical item he wants is your best strategy for handling a resource predator, there are no guarantees that he will leave without harming you. Stay vigilant and use your best judgement and intuition regarding when you might need to switch strategies.

Process Predators
Process predators are far more dangerous. They commit violence because they like violence. These are the sociopaths who commit torture, most types of murder, rape and other heinous acts of what we call “senseless violence.” A process predator doesn’t want a physical item from you. He wants to hurt you because he gets off on hurting people. This is not transactional, and you can’t just give the process predator what he wants to make him change his mind. Violence is baked into the equation. It’s the whole point.

A key clue that you’re facing a process predator is that he needs time and privacy to carry out his violent plans, and so he will attempt to move you to a different location if the current location isn’t private enough. In the case of a home invasion, if the invaders don’t immediately demand money or other goods or start searching the house for them, it’s almost certain that their intent is to spend a lot of time causing you physical pain in the privacy of your own home. These are process predators. This is why we often advise women to draw a hard line at allowing themselves to be taken anywhere by someone they’re afraid of. He only wants to move you because the current location doesn’t give him enough time or privacy to do what he wants to do to you. Do not go.

You cannot reason with a process predator or give him what he wants in the hope that he’ll go away. Your only options are to run or to fight your way out. If you can escape, or if you’re still in a place public enough that causing a scene will draw a crowd, do it. If you can’t run, fight. Fight with everything you have and take any risk you must. No price is too high, because staying static is going to cost you everything.

Regardless of what type of predator you’re dealing with, you need to be crystal clear that the violent actor standing in front of you has already decided that whatever he wants, whether it’s your money or the emotional high he gets from hurting you, is worth more than your very life. Process predators must be escaped or physically stopped. Resource predators can usually be appeased but might still need to be escaped or physically stopped. Stay vigilant and rely on your own intuition and your knowledge of the type of predator you might be dealing with to guide your response.

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