Your compassion is ineffective against aggressive, sadistic, exploitive, unscrupulous, abusive people. Attacks will be to your values, ethics, civil or human rights, property, physical self, or loved ones. In civil society, a threat of bodily harm is an offense punishable by law. Situational awareness is crucial. Consider each threat a warning of impending attack.
Your best defense is your mental and physical conditioning—your long-term preparation for managing threats. Backup resources such as family, friends, associates and advocates will also reinforce your defense, just as they may depend on your assistance in their times of need.
Prepare to defend yourself by conscious, intentional development of coping strengths, and through martial arts training if possible. Coping strengths enable you to manage a range of stressors. Facts and evidence enable you to effectively defend yourself verbally and in writing. Physical strength and courage, stamina, agility, and grace enable you to run toward chaos, engage a threat, or flee to safety.
When aware of a threat, weigh the consequences of your possible responses. Then, act with informed intention. You may eliminate, modify, distract, co-opt, pre-empt, preclude, avoid/evade, yield to, accommodate, ignore, or counterattack the source. Overreaction may be seen either as vulnerability or escalation. (See also Pacifism.)
Review the entire experience later, gaining insight to guide your future behavior.