In violent urban survival scenario… violence is the easy part.

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light for survivalWhen times are hard, people show all kinds of their characteristics, or faces, or real face, call it whatever you like.

That is another reason why it is not so popular to talk or write in details about that time. Some people did bad things and survived, or good things and died, or people just acted strange in that time.

Again a lot of combinations. People later do not want to discuss about that, they do not want to remember that. Over the time man can really force himself to believe that he did not do some things, even if he did them.

No happy gatherings of group of people who survived all that, nothing like big reunions with barbecue with cheerful talks about „how it was then“ and drinking beer.

When we sit somewhere together, we do not talk about these times too much. If we really go in something from that time we usually lie to each other. Everybody of us who survived has something particular that he does not want to talk about or to remember.

Often this is something embarrassing or very bad or cruel that one did. It made sense back then in survival situation but even today when you have food on your table it is hard to understand… even for yourself.

I had friend who was pretty fearless guy when it comes to some tough situations, fights, death and life situation, man to man combat until the end and hard stuff like that. He was easy with violence. But what he could not stand was time frame between launching of rockets and detonations when rockets exploded.

To explain it little bit for folks who never been in war. There was something like shelling by surprise from multiple grenade launchers. So you hear distant „bum“ sounds , some 15 or 20 separate sounds, deep sounds, every maybe 1 second or less, by the time you hear maybe six of these sounds of grenades launching, they are starting to hit already.

Explanation maybe sounds too poor, words can not explain it. But usually that kind of shelling was used on an area like a street and the whole area within 200 – 300m in this street was death zone. It was hard to predict what area they shell before grenades hit.

So in real life if you find yourself at the open in that moment, and the shelling area is where you are you do not have too many chances to live. Sometimes people jumped for cover and broke their arm or leg doing this to find out grenades fall in different part of city. That few seconds between first „bum“ and explosion where the grenades hit felt like eternity.

I could swear that lasts for hours, not seconds. So much things to think about in that moments.

Anyway my friend could not stand that few seconds whenever he was caught in open area. Every and each time he would lose control of his body functions (he sh#t and pee in his pants).
He would cry after that like a kid. Of course that was reason for lot of fun. He hated himself every time after that, but he could not help it.

Feeling in your stomach when the grenades fall around you, is like you want to puke and shit at same time, lot of people say that is because of huge vibrations, but it is pure and real sense of horror, and completely lack of control over your life.

And remember, he was no coward at all. Each and everyone of us had his horror moments when you just were lost, when you just surrender completely.

I have seen few times that people blow other mans brain out with bullets, and later even make fun of that, and in the same time same people throw up when they have to eat macaroni infested with worms, dead worms cooked with macaroni.

For me maybe worst thing, or thing that I hated most were some smells. Constant smell of burnt things. Not ordinary smell of wood or coal fire, but smell of lot of things set on fire. Heavy and greasy smell that somehow just go directly in your stomach, like lot of dirty things are burning but with very slow fire. Nothing to compare it with today. The stench of rotting meat of dead bodies came into that as well.

Closest thing would be like somebody set fire to huge pile of city trash today. But still it is not so close to that.

Especially in the morning smell was heavy. Very often I just woke up and had to vomit as soon as I smelled it. It was something stronger than me. Actually it did not have anything with fact how strong or weak I was.

Every one of us had own small breaking point, most of the time violence was easy part of our time when we tried to survive.

When you prepare for a possible SHTF scenario do not get lost in too much technical stuff. Try to get to your limits. Try to know your breaking points.

I recorded material for new course with Jay here where I live in past 2 weeks. Jay comes from troubled background and was involved in some crime in his late teenage and early adult life. He is real nice guy today but because of his past violence, blood and gore comes easy to him. But he has real problems when it comes to seeing or smelling poop.

I work in emergency services so I took him along to some jobs when I knew it would be messy in very unpleasant way for him.

Turning around homeless guy who is too drunk to move and has sh#t himself and been lying in that at same place for two days is special experience… especially for someone who has real problem with poop.

You get idea of all of this. I think a lot of writing about survival today is about gear reviews and buying another gun and that is fun I know but going to places where it hurts you today… where you can push your limits is time very well spent.

Do not expect to “overcome” all of them. Some things always get you, but knowing about this and being mentally prepared for it, makes big difference is stressful survival scenarios when many things at the same time test your limits.

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28 replies
  1. Marcos Ronald Roman Gonçalves says:

    Brother Selco, as always, your texts are very timely and raw.
    I’ve never experienced war. I never killed anyone. But I had desperate situations in my life. Uncontrolled situations. Situations in which all I had on me when I entered was not all I had on me when I left. What always helped me was remember the meaning of what I was doing. And I do not lose my “Self”. My raison d’être.
    You do not exemplified the possibility of doing good things and survive. So, I guess I would not have survived what you have lived. And I will not survive. But I will be myself and I will give the best that I have.
    Fraternal greetings.

    Reply
  2. Clinton Crafts says:

    I thought you’d covered everything, but this is a very good article. Your mind seems to break you before anything else can. It’s crazy. Thanks for sharing this stuff. Bad times coming for my country. Very bad.

    Reply
  3. bill
    bill says:

    Excellent article. I had never thought of intentionally pushing myself into situations where I know I will be very uncomfortable. Heights scare the living hell out of me, but, I may need to climb a water tower to fetch some clean water. If I don’t do something about my fears now then those fears will become a liability when I am in a situation that requires me to face my worst fears. My wife can’t stand the sight of blood. She gets anxious and nearly passes out. That would not be much help if I am the one that needs a tourniquet.

    Thank you for giving me that “extra push” to get myself prepared before it is too late. Not facing my fears today may extract a heavy toll tomorrow.

    Stay safe.

    Reply
  4. Shawn says:

    Well put. Anyone who has never experienced the blinding animalistic feeling of panic is lucky, because it sucks. When you do eventually experience it, prepare to have your world view drastically changed. I served in the military, and was several years in to a job as an emergency services worker before I experienced it. Before that I thought I was fearless, maybe even the toughest dude who ever lived. I wondered for months what the hell was wrong with me, and felt ashamed. I eventually talked to someone about it, and she told me it exists in everyone – but everyone has their unique breaking points and triggers. Knowing that is the first step towards trying to control it.

    Reply
  5. Old Sarge says:

    I, too, have felt that fear. My time in Iraq was always an undercurrent of dread, peaked out with moments of terror. The worst thing to happen to someone, to anyone of us, is the loss of control, the feeling of helplessness. When those moments hit, you rely on your training and your instincts to carry you through. And you pray that they do…

    Reply
  6. Stevenr.f. says:

    Also, many things that you think are a problem now become no problem when it is very dire. There is no way to predict or know this about yourself in the end, until that time comes. What will break you will likely be something you will be surprised by. The men I served in combat with, some of them thought I wouldn’t hold together. I was fine, they weren’t. I saved my “breaking” for years later, when I was safe. Then I lived the trauma I saved from those moments. It took ten years and more to put it back together again. Humans can be funny that way.

    Thanks for the article, Selco.

    Reply
    • Selco
      Selco says:

      You are welcome
      People are different. Some break down in hard situation immediately, some are great for hard times. Somebody cry, other sings when people shoot on them. I have seen acts of bravery that actually goes in stupidity, or cannot be explained normally. All variations. But sad and real truth is that you can not get away from those things that break you down. I just like you went pretty good trough all of that events that happen, i even was worried sometimes why i do not feel too much about lot of bad things that are happening about me. You can say that i have been good, pretty tough actually trough all of that. But again, several years after everything ended, it hit me like train, and almost completely break me. So there is no escape from that. Sooner or later man goes trough that.

      Reply
      • Lazamataz says:

        Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, brother. It will hit you months, years later. Your body is supposed to make it through it — and sometimes it does — but the mind, it remembers, it replays. Suddenly you are weeping like a baby and unable to act in any way.

        There are no easy solutions to something like this. Perhaps a belief in a Higher Power can help a lot. I have been through some (much more minor) horrors myself, as a once-active crack cocaine addict, the 12 step program helped me a LOT.

        There are positives and negatives to having once been an addict. One of the positives is I developed a sixth sense for when people want to harm me. I can read a situation, a street situation, with uncanny accuracy. I know 10 minutes before a situation will go down, in most occurances.

        Reply
  7. russell1200 says:

    I thought I remember seeing that the Soviets had developed a mult-barrel (or maybe it was just a rapid fire) mortar that could lay down a simultaneous burst of fire with a number of rounds spread out over an area – a cluster bomb sort of effect. The idea would be to hit a large area before people had a chance to take cover.

    Since radar is now used to the source location of incoming mortar rounds (at least the U.S. has the equipment, I don’t know how well it works) the ability to lay down heavy fire very quickly, and than move out of the way of any return fire would also have value.

    Reply
  8. The Diagnosis says:

    Selco,

    Thank you for the raw and brutal honesty of this article. I see far too many so-called “Preppers” and “Survivalists” spend all the time in the World worrying about this “Supply” or that “Prep” and preach to the masses about buying that or securing this and you are the first to discuss the Psychological issues. I for one am honest enough to be forthright and admit I may have the propensity to do violence and blood is not a fear but I do have a few issues with a weak stomach especially regarding human waste. Thanks agin for the truth.

    Reply
  9. john says:

    I think I already know what will break me. I cannot stand people who cannot control themselves when they are stressed. They become cowardly or become violent or they cry or they scream and yell all for small reasons. I can’t deal with that. I never have been able to. It makes me very angry. I have never reacted to stressful situations in this way and I honestly am not able to comprehend it. The only stressful situation for me that makes me completely insane is when I am around someone who “loses it”. In a war situation I might just kill them to make them stop. sometimes I think about doing so even in non-war situations.

    Reply
    • Selco
      Selco says:

      In situation like this people usually responds better if you force some kind of authority over them, much better then trying to be nice with them. I mean if you are together with man in some hard and life threatening situation and he break down and start to act funny, some yelling and giving orders helps, even using some force too. To go into the reasons why he act like that is not helpful in that moment usually.
      And panic can be easily spread from man to man. So to act timely is important.
      Most of the people in hard and stressful event will look for somebody to tell them what to do, this also work for shorter and longer term events.Only few of us are have full set of skills to act great in life threatening situations. Actually that make different between man who is leader and man who is gonna obey.

      Reply
  10. John says:

    Selco, just wanna say that I love your approach to your site. Most ‘bloggin professionals’ out there rant on about the need to post daily content – but your site demonstrates this is not true for a successful site.

    You post quality articles with quality information and obviously take time to do so. The result is I look forward to each of your posts and read them all, all the way through. Other sites that have daily content, just put out so much stuff, i can’t keep up.

    Congrats on taking the time to do things well! Am loving it!

    Reply
  11. j.bradbury says:

    It takes a lot of courage to talk about these events. Most of us block out painful moments. You bring them out in the open; in the hope that we can all learn from these experiences.

    Outstanding Job, keep up the Great Work!!

    Reply
  12. j.r. guerra in s. tx. says:

    One of my former coworkers is a Vietnam Army military veteran who had an alcohol problem. He blamed it on the experiences he had there, he did not want to discuss what had occurred and changed the subject very quickly when it was brought up.

    Sounds and smells are thought to be triggers for ‘flashing back’ and bringing up bad memories. I’m not sure if there is anything that can be done for stopping this. Very sorry for those who go through this.

    Reply
  13. twincougars says:

    My 22 yr.old son committed suicide by placing a 12 ga shotgun in his mouth and blowing half his head away. I found him about a minute later (I was upstairs and he was downstairs). Blood was still flowing from his body and blood and bone fragments were spattered all around the kitchen. His one eyeball was hanging from its socket. I never cried so much in my life. But, that was 3 mths and 14 days ago. I am still alive, haven’t gone insane, and am still a functional human being. Would you say that this experience would help he in the kind of survival situations you experienced?

    Reply
    • Selco
      Selco says:

      Yes.
      I am very sorry to read this. I think actually that you are living in your worst part of your life right now, and if you had and have strength now, everything later gonna be nothing. And also whatever else i could say can look and sound weak and empty for you considering your huge loss.

      Reply
  14. james says:

    While nothing like your experince in intensity, I have seen similar things in EMS.
    A partner of mine is one of the toughest men I have ever had the honor to work with; fearless,dedicated,strong beyond his size(though not a small man),many years of service in the army,served in AFG early in the war, and a former professional wrestler(with a smaller organization).He is an excellent and skilled medic, but for the life of him he can’t intubate someone without getting nauseated and usually vomiting.He still does it and rarely has trouble with getting the tube,he may throw-up two or three times during and after ,but he toughs it out because he’s trained himself to overcome it.

    Reply
  15. Richard Stone says:

    Good article.

    Long overdo and greatly needed.

    We in the United States have become pampered and weak.

    We don’t grow a garden or raise and slaughter livestock. If it isn’t already processed and packaged by McDonalds and sold to us by a clown we turn our heads away.

    We have become accustomed to showering everyday some people twice and God help us if we don’t have the latest deodorant or colone sold to us by an idiot on TV.

    Want to train yourself on how to deal with foul conditions? Volunteer to go to Haiti or some other shit hole and stay there for at least two weeks and NOT in some Hotel but rather “in the bush”.

    See for yourself the suffering and experience for yourself the smells and then……maybe…….you’ll have an idea what things will be like when the SHTF.

    God Bless

    Reply
  16. Lazamataz says:

    Dude. You are amazing. I never ever THOUGHT about this stuff. But you are right, this is WAY more important than practicing with a Glock or storing cans of tuna. If I survive, you get part of the credit.

    Reply
  17. Robert says:

    Great and useful reminder on our fragilities and streghts as human beings. Made me feel better about instances when I froze during certain grave situations – no one is infallible 24X7… Keep`em comming!

    Reply
  18. Lefty Prepper says:

    Selco, thank you again for remembering and sharing so much of this with those of us lucky enough to not know.

    I had a client, a young homeless gay man, who had been horrifically beaten on more than one occasion, burned, raped, seen a parent murdered, faced almost daily physical harassment for being gay, and lived through the general horrors of street life yet typically managed to be one of the more functional and happy youth at the shelter. Ranch dressing though….if we ran out of ranch dressing for dinner he’d spend 30 minutes weeping in the bathroom. It was just something that tipped him over the edge, maybe because it was so small in comparison to what he’d dealt with that it was a bigger shock to not be able to count on it?

    You can’t prepare for every bad thing, (and you can’t prepare for ranch dressing,) but you can find and build your ability to cope afterwards.

    Reply
  19. Penny Pincher says:

    I once was the one to administer first aid to a kid who had cut his hand wide open on a plate glass window that broke. Everyone else froze and I just bellowed out orders to get napkins from the ice cream store, made the kid sit down, and put his hand up w/me pressing the napkins on it. And then the EMT’s came and took over.

    But another time, someone showed up at a job site I was working on with his elderly father in the car who had had a heart attack, wanting CPR for the man, the old man had puke on his face and in his mouth, there were no plastic “shields” for mouth-to-mouth and I hesitated. Luckily my boss didn’t hesitate, so then I called 911, but the guy was actually already dead anyway. The EMT’s who came tried for a long time and he was just deader than a doornail.

    I hate puke. I also really hate having to endure people’s BO and bad breath. We’ll probably get quite a bit more of that when the SHTF. People will be hiding and not bathing.

    Reply
  20. Texas Blue says:

    In the States all the talk is about Iraq and Afghanistan. I’m not demeaning their experience there in any way, it’s just that when I tell people I was deployed to the Balkans they have no idea what I’m talking about. It’s been largely forgotten, and I don’t like talking about it. Thank you for putting it into words for me.

    Reply

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