- A violent crime occurs every 12 seconds, 24 hours a day in the U.S.
- A woman is raped every 46 seconds in America… that’s almost 78 rapes each hour
- Nearly one in five women has been or will be raped in her lifetime
- 25% of rapes take place in a public area with 1 in 3 woman being raped in a parking lot or garage on the way to their car. 30% never survive.
- The Justice Department estimates that one in five women will experience rape or attempted rape during their college years and that less than five percent of these rapes will be reported.
- Last year there were over sixteen thousand, six hundred murders – about 46 per day, or almost two per hour.
- Over 3,500 aggravated assaults and robberies occur every day. That is one every 24 seconds.
- Last year there were 49,000 car jackings and attempted car jackings.
- The time of day when men are most likely to attack and rape a woman is in the early morning between the hours of 5:00AM and 8:30AM. Nearly half of all violent crimes occur within one mile of the victim’s own home. Other very common places for women to be abducted from or attacked are grocery store and mall parking lots, office parking lots and parking garages, and public restrooms.
These are startling statistics, but this is also good news for you. Knowledge is power, and now that you know the facts, there are some things that you can do to minimize the odds of becoming a victim of a violent crime.
There is a misconception that assaults happen when bad guys jump out of bushes and randomly attack people. But the truth is that crime is seldom random. Even the most desperate predator is very careful in selecting his victims. 87% of the time victims either know their attacker or they have encountered them at some time prior to the attack. It is typically this prior encounter, what I call ‘The Interview’, that provides the attacker an opportunity to manipulate a would-be victim into an assault. The events that lead up to the actual attack, The Interview, can start minutes or hours or days ahead of time and can happen from a distance or right under your nose. The Interview provides an attacker the opportunity to assess a potential target. The attacker will ask questions, typically innocent questions such as “do you have the time”, “do you have a quarter”, “do you know where such and such street is”, to see how their intended victim acts. If the victim seems strong or doesn’t let them push boundaries, they will go to another victim. Remember, they are not looking for a fight.
Another misconception that people have is that a person needs numerous training sessions to learn to defend themselves. This just isn’t true. The principles of personal protection and a few practiced and powerful techniques to deploy in the event that you are attacked can be taught in just a few short hours. I recommend that everyone get some training, however, even if you choose not to seek a few hours of professional training, know that you already ahead of the game just having read this article. Studies indicate that a strong voice and assertive body language can be enough to cause a predator to look elsewhere for his victim. And should he still choose you, 86% of the time fighting back can prevent the progression of the crime. Again, a would-be attacker, robber, or assailant isn’t looking for a fight, he is looking for an opportunity. He is looking for easy prey. Just as the weakest animal in a herd will be the first to fall to a hungry predator, so too will a similarly apparent person become the victim of crime before that of a stronger opponent. Bad guys will choose targets based on the potential for success in the commission of the crime. If a bad guy thinks that someone will put up a fight, he will choose a different target.
Just a few simple practiced techniques can discourage a lurking attacker! Here are a few things that you can begin to do immediately:
1. Give the perception of confidence when you are out in public. Walk with purpose, direction, and intent. Know where you are going, walk tall, shoulders back, confident strides, and use your eyes to look out straight and around, piercing, slightly suspicious – rather than looking down. Make eye contact! This alone, will influence most potential attackers to take pause, allowing you to pass through their zone. As we mentioned already, bad guys are looking for an easy victim and will purposely choose someone whom they feel will offer the least resistance and provide the easiest means for them to escape after-the-fact. It’s common sense, really.
2. Be observant and take appropriate action. Let’s say that you are walking directly towards a destination down the street, maybe an intersection or two away. While you are looking ahead, beyond what is directly in front of you, you notice a group of questionable characters hanging out on the sidewalk just beyond the next intersection between you and your destination. Your destination is on the same side of the street, so what do you? This is a no brainer … you cross the road! Cross over to the other side of the street and proceed in the same direction, crossing back a little further down the road – all the while looking perfectly purposed as though it was your intention all along. You avoid a potential confrontation, and you still make it to your destination.
3. Be aware of your surroundings wherever you are, especially if you’re alone. You can listen to an iPod, but never turn up the volume so loud that you can’t hear your fingers snap. Walk with purpose, taking large steps. Keep your eyes up, and look around as if you need to describe this place to someone. Carry something you feel you could use as a weapon— stick, flashlight, umbrella, cell phone, keys or a water bottle. Don’t get caught in conversations with strangers, no matter what they ask. It doesn’t matter what they say or what they want. Don’t look passive or quiet, look like someone who would put up a fight.
4. Think ahead. Let’s say that you are walking to your vehicle which is parked in a mall parking lot or parking garage (any scenario will do). Instead of fumbling for your keys after you’ve arrived at the vehicle, have your keys in hand while walking towards your vehicle allowing you to make a quick and efficient entry. Walk directly to your vehicle, erect, shoulders back, confident strides. Upon arrival at your vehicle take notice of your surroundings before pausing to open the trunk or toss your packages in the back seat. Immediately lock your doors upon entering your vehicle, put your keys in the ignition and leave. Do not sit in your car reviewing your receipt, balancing your checkbook, making a phone call, etc. These distractions alone will lend to the potential that you could be caught off guard.
5. If you are approached by a stranger maintain two-arms-length of physical distance. Distance is always your friend! If the hair stands up on the back of your neck, get out. Leave. Women grow up afraid to be viewed as unkind or selfish, to hurt another’s feelings, or say no and when we find ourselves in an uncomfortable situation we tend to hold our breath and hope that the uninvited intrusion will just go away. And if we are lucky, he will. However, when approached by a stranger, remember what I said about The Interview. You do not need to answer questions from a stranger and, in fact, you can assertively ask your own questions and demand that a stranger maintain a physical boundary. It is perfectly okay to appear rude. Better to be thought rude than to find yourself in a situation where your life could be threatened.
6. If an attacker pulls a weapon and demands money or a wallet, throw it away from you and the attacker so that you can run. If they ignore the money, then you know you were the intended target, not your wallet. Step back with your strong leg and put your hands up, saying “stop right there” with a very strong voice. Get louder and louder, and repeat whatever you say. Don’t listen to them, they’ve shown you that they don’t care about crossing your boundary. Keep using verbal commands as it will keep you breathing and that is the key to success in self defense. Breathe. This will usually be enough to cause the would-be attacker to think twice about whether he wants to engage you further. However, if the attacker does get close enough to grab you, ACT! Fight back, using whatever methods necessary. Scream, yell, and strike out. Don’t freeze! Use the adrenaline coursing through your body, let your voice get loud, and your moves large and furious. Keep breathing! By breathing you will allow your brain to continue functioning so you can think and act! Strike out using large areas such as your palm or back of your hand or your feet. Keep striking until you are able to run. The best target areas are the throat, nose, eyes, knees, back of the hands and feet/ankles. It only takes 12 pounds of pressure to buckle an attacker’s knee.
The key to personal protection is to avoid confrontation in the first place. Appear confident, and use your brain. This will often be all that you need to avoid becoming a victim. We all have an innate sense of intuition that gives us information that we can use to stay safe. Listen to your intuition. Trust it. You do not have to live in fear! No matter where you go or what you do, the principles of personal protection are the same.