I am creating this message for those people in my life who I love and care for, and I hope you all take it very seriously. Last night I attended a personal safety workshop, and it jolted me. It was given by an amazing man, Pat Malone, who has been a body guard for famous figures like Farrah Fawcett and Sylvester Stallone. He works for the FBI, and teaches police officers and Navy SEALS hand-to-hand combat.
This man has seen it all, and knows a lot. He focused his teachings to us on How To Avoid Being The Victim Of A Violent Crime. He gave us some statistics about how much the occurrences of random violence have escalated over the recent years, and it's terrible. Something like 99% of us will be exposed/a victim of a violent crime. Here are some of the most important points that I got out of his presentation:
The three reasons women are easy targets for random acts of violence are:
Lack of awareness (you must know where you are & what's going on around you.)
Body language (keep your head up, swing your arms, stand straight up)
Wrong place, wrong time (don't be walking alone in an alley, or driving in a bad neighborhood at night)
Women have a tendency to get into their cars after shopping, eating, working, etc, and just sit (doing their checkbook, or making a list, etc). Don't do this! The predator will be watching you, and this is the perfect opportunity for him to get in the passenger side, put a gun to your head, and tell you where to go. As soon as you get into your car, lock the doors and leave. A few notes about getting into your car in a parking lot, or parking garage:
Be aware: look around you, look into your car, at the passenger side floor, and in the back seat. Check under the car as well.
If you are parked next to a big van, enter your car from the passenger door. Most serial killers attack their victims by pulling them into their vans while the women are attempting to get into their cars.
Look at the car parked on the driver's side of your vehicle, and the passenger side. If a male is sitting alone in the seat nearest your car, you may want to walk back into the mall, or work, and get a guard/policeman to walk you back out. It is always better to be safe than sorry.
Always take the elevator instead of the stairs. (Stairwells are horrible places to be alone.)
Do not get on an elevator if there is a weirdo already on there (of course bad men don't always look bad).
Do not stand back in the corners of the elevator, be near the front, by the doors, ready to get off or on.
If you get on the elevator on the 25th floor, and the Boogie Man gets on at the 22nd, get off when he gets on.
If the predator has a gun and you are not under his control, always run!
Police only make 4 of 10 shots when they are in range of 3-9 feet. This is due to stress.
The predator will only hit you (a running target) 4 in 100 times. And even then, it most likely will not be a vital organ. Run!
As women, we are always trying to be sympathetic: stop it, it may get you raped, or killed.
Ted Bundy, the serial killer, was a good looking, well-educated man, who always played on the sympathies of unsuspecting women. He walked with a cane, or a limp, and often asked "for help" into his vehicle or with his vehicle, which is when he abducted his next victim.
Pat Malone told us the story of his daughter, who came out of the mall and was walking to her car when she noticed 2 older ladies in front of her. Then she saw a police car come towards her with 2 cops, and they said hello. She also noticed that all 8 handicap spots in the area were empty. As she neared her car she saw a man a few rows over calling to her, for help. He wanted her to close his passenger side door. He was sitting in the driver's side, and said he was handicapped. He continued calling, until she turned and headed back to the mall, and then he began cursing at her. She wondered why he didn't ask the 2 older ladies, or the policeman for help, and why he was not parked in any of the empty handicap spots. As she got back to the mall, two male friends of hers were exiting, and as she told them the story, and turned to point at the car, a male was getting out of the back seat into the front, and the car sped away. Don't get caught in this trap.
Tips to saving your life, if you have gotten into a violent situation:
React immediately: If he abducts you in a parking lot, and is taking you to an abandoned area, don't let him get you to that area.
If you are driving, react immediately in the situation, and crash your car while still going 5 MPH
If he's driving, find the right time, and stick your fingers in his eyes. He must watch the road, so choose an unsuspecting time, and gouge him. It is your only defense. While he is in shock, get out (this sounds gross, but the alternative is your fault if you do not act).
Resist: don't go along with him: run, if you are able
You do not want to get to crime scene #2
Don't ever give up!
Always keep your distance when walking past strangers on the street or in dark areas.
Get A Cell Phone.
There are packages for $19.95 a month that allow you to program only 911 into the dialing out program (this is for parents who say it is too expensive for their kids to have a cell phone.)
Breakdowns: (avoid this by always keeping your car in good working order)
If your car breaks down: you better have a cell phone to call for help, and lock your doors.
Keep a blanket, and a pair of warm clothes and boots, and a flashlight in your car always for emergencies.
If you don't have a cell phone: (shame on you)
It's noon on a business day, you may want to put your hazards on and walk to safety
It's 2 a.m.: put on your warm clothes, and walk to a lighted area
You are a perfect target if you are sitting in your car broken down
Predators search the highways for easy targets like you
And you're on a desolate road:
Walk away from the car (in your warm clothes) and go to some bushes, or some area away from your vehicle. It will be cold, and uncomfortable, but you do not want to stay in your car, and there are no psychic boogiemen waiting in the bushes who knew you were going to break down.
Physical defenses that we can use against the violent predator:
The eyes are the most vulnerable part of the body. Poke him there, and you have (possibly) your only window of opportunity.
The neck is also a vulnerable spot, but you must know where to grip, and have the strength to cut off his breath.
The last place is the knees. Everyone's knees are very vulnerable, and a swift kick here will take anyone down.
A cautionary note about these things is that if you do not do these things right the first time, you are a in trouble, because it will only anger the individual, and that anger will be taken out on you. I'm not saying don't attempt them (it may be your only hope), but be forceful when you do.
If you are walking alone in the dark (which you shouldn't be) and you find him following/chasing you:
Scream "Fire!", and not "help". People don't want to get involved when people yell "help", but "fire" draws attention because people are nosy.
Find an obstacle, such as a parked car, and run around it, like Ring-Around-The-Rosie.
This may sound silly, but over the years, 5 women have told Pat Malone that this saved their lives.
Your last hope is getting under the car. Once you are under there, there are tons of things to hold on to, and he will not be able to get you out, and will not come under for you (most likely). Usually they give up by this point.
The catch here is that you must practice getting under the car.
You must have a plan (he will have one); know if you will be going on your back, front, from the side or back of the car. It must be practiced.
Never let yourself or anyone that you know be a "closer" in any type of business (bar, store, restaurant, gas station)
Pat knew Danielle, who was the girl from Chesterland that just died from being shot point-blank by some kids while she was closing at the local gas station. He talked with her the night before she died, and asked whether it ever scared her to close alone. She said yes, but said "I'll be alright, Pat. I'll be alright." She wasn't.
I didn't mean to scare you with any of this, but honestly, I hope it did. It should. Our world is not as safe as we pretend that it is, and living in our fantasy worlds will get us in trouble, sooner or later.
"It won't happen to me" doesn't cut it, and is a bogus expectation anyway. Pat Malone said again and again that the women who die every minute from violent crimes expected to go to bed tonight, and get up tomorrow, and do it all over again, and again, and again. No one expects it, but we must be prepared and aware so that we have a plan.
I would encourage you to pass this on to all women, not just your friends and family, but everybody. We all need to hear it.