The brisk cold air blew as I wrapped my arms tighter to keep warm. Puddles of water beneath my feet rippled in tiny waves. I walked through the deserted campus after covering an event. It was 10:30 p.m. and no one was in sight. I glanced around at the surrounding emergency posts and silently estimated how long it would take me to run across and press the button in case a stranger approached.
Despite the precaution I was taking, I walked across the campus unafraid. “This is only Orange County. Nothing ever happens in Orange County,” I thought.
When I got home, I was received by my panic-stricken sister. She carefully recounted in details what she has just gone through. She was walking home from class at around 8:30 p.m. through the parking lot to the apartments. She had noticed a car following her.
Suspicious and paranoid, she took a detour and headed for a more well-lit area. The window of the driver's seat slowly rolled down, revealing a man in his 40s wearing a flannel shirt. He motioned her over but she didn't move. She took a peek into the car and noticed that the man did not have any pants on. He fondled his manhood (or perhaps lack of it). My sister freaked out and ran to the nearby laundry room. She found another girl in there alone and decided to warn her about the prowling sex fiend. The girl coincidentally found an obscene note in her laundry.
The concept of danger hit too close to home that night. A week after they filed a police report, my sister found out that another girl was physically assaulted by the same man. According to the Nashville Police Department web page, people are most likely to be attacked during transitions when you are going from one place to another. A “transition” occurs when you walk from class to class, when walking to the parking lot, taking out the trash or walking your dog. These “transitions” are a part of our everyday life and are unavoidable.
It is impossible to live our lives locked up in our bedrooms to avoid danger. Instead of being a victim, why not fight back? Fifty-five percent of the people who don't resist get injured anyway. People who fight using a combination of yelling, running, and physical techniques get away from attackers more often than people who offer no resistance.
When you are walking to your car, take your car key out of your pocket and put it under your index finger. You save time in not having to fumble for your keys in the dark and if you are attacked, you can jab the keys into the eyes or face of the assailant.
Experts suggest altering your daily habits to avoid being repetitive and drawing the attention of any potential stalker.
If you are considering buying a pepper spray, remember that it is not always foolproof. Pepper spray does not always work and it can take a couple minutes before it is effective. You should also remember to always have the pepper spray readily available and not in your pockets or handbags where it may take some time to find it.
Sometimes, an improvised weapon like a pen, fork, comb or book jabbed into an attacker's face will buy you the time you need to escape. Just remember to remain calm in such situations and think before your act.
One of the tips offered by the Nashville Police Department when you are attacked by an armed assailant is to wrap your jacket around your arm and try to use that to temporary fend him off like yelling for help or throw your wallet or purse into the attacker's knife as you run away.
For the past five years, the suspect that harassed my sister has been leaving obscene notes in the laundry room. I have been living in the apartment complex for the past three years and I was never warned of any such incidents. I recounted all those nights I walked home alone never bothering to look over my shoulder.
Prevention is the best precaution. Walking with an umbrella, dog or small child decreases your risk of attack. Pairs (or more) are less likely to be attacked than one person. Remember to look around you and walk with an alert, erect posture. If you look like a good victim, you are more likely to be one.