Transitional Space: any location that connects multiple environments and provides Aggressors with a tactical advantage such as ease of access, an element of surprise, or a quick escape
As their name suggests, Transitional Spaces are pathways that join two or more different environments together. When you move from a room to a hallway, you pass through a door. The door in this scenario is the Transitional Space. As you park and exit your vehicle to begin walking across the parking lot, you again must transition between the indoor environment of your car and the outdoor environment of the parking lot. Changing floors in a building or structure requires the use of a stairway, ramp, or elevator. All three in this case represent the Transitional Space between the floor you are on and the floor you’re going to.
A man attacks a mother whose back was turned while she climbs a flight of stairs. The mother and her child were drug down the concrete stairway as the Aggressor attempted to flee with her purse.
Transitional Spaces represent a huge potential Opportunity for Aggressors, yet they are a part of our everyday lives. In fact, they are so common that few people give it a second thought when they begin to load or unload their vehicle, approach their room in a hotel, turn a corner while descending a stairwell, or as they wait for the next metro train to arrive.
One aspect of what makes Transitional Spaces so dangerous is that are generally publicly accessible areas which means it’s normal for complete strangers to be in very close proximity to you. Imagine you were walking back to your car after leaving the grocery store; you probably wouldn’t think twice about someone or even a group of people walking behind you and in the same direction as you are. Subconsciously, most likely assume they’re just going to their car too and you’re parked near each other. However, this type of subconscious dismissal is a key component of what Aggressors prey on in Transitional Spaces.
A man blocks a woman’s car in and then steals her purse after threatening her in a parking garage.
In addition, Transitional Spaces are often confined and have restricted fields of view. Both of which limit your reaction time and the room you have to maneuver in response to a perceived Threat. These qualities assist Aggressors since they can get closer to you without you realizing it, trap you, or funnel your movement.
Further complicating the issue of Transitional Spaces is the chance that, more likely than not, you are typically distracted while moving through them. You could be on your cell phone, have your hands full, or be late for a meeting and rushing. Regardless of the reasons, distractions in a Transitional Spaces further improve an Aggressor’s odds of controlling the situation, particularly at its onset.
A group of armed thieves ambush a man as he exits a business and attempts
to walk to his car while using his phone.
One final aspect of Transitional Spaces is that they offer quick avenues of escape for Aggressors. Since they bridge the gap between multiple environments, they’re designed to ease movement between those environments giving Aggressors precious moments to put distance between you two once they’ve accomplished their goal.
Avoiding Transitional Spaces can be difficult, inconvenient, and at times even impossible. Fortunately, most share similar characteristics that make Avoidance and Recovery strategies somewhat transferable. In other words, the way you might approach parking in a public garage and walking to an office building is probably similar to the way you would approach getting out of an Uber to walk down into a subway transit station.
Ultimately, being aware of what Transitional Spaces you encounter in your everyday life or are likely to encounter and then deliberately choosing to adopt a Green Level of Awareness before you enter those spaces is the best practice. Also, preparing yourself for quick Recovery action will help offset several of the physiological, psychological, and emotional Barriers to Recovery (addressed in full CSC academics) which are common in a defensive encounter.
The bottom line – Minimize the time you spend in Transitional Spaces!