Saturday, August 9, 2008

Jogging and sexual assaults

The need of being aware while jogging

In today's issue of women's self-defense tips we will talk briefly about being aware while jogging. This is something you will find in greater detail in our bi-monthly Women Can reports. Let us first show one typical example.

The below incident also points to how perpetrators may operate, by planning and setting up a suitable place to strike. This of course should be yet another indication as to how the term "random violence" is more of a media construction than a matter of fact. You will also note that the attacker (again) approaches from behind.

An attempted abduction

It was August 11, 2007, that a 37-year-old man attempted to abduct a 14-year-old girl in Litchfield, Connecticut.

According to the girl, the man had offered her a ride after he pulled up behind her while she was jogging. When she refused his offer, he reportedly chased her on foot. After a struggle, he left the girl alone and she ran into the woods and later called police.

It is alleged the man lied in wait for his intended victim and came up from behind her. He also selected a secluded portion of the road for his assault. Officials say the man searched remote country roads for months - driving past women jogging alone. Eventually, he tried to abduct the teenager.

Four other women testified during a court hearing how the man repeatedly drove by them as they had been jogging near a wildlife preserve.

A bad habit

Fortunately, this girl fought back and was able to escape. Unfortunately this case is not unique at all - something you soon will see if you read our 5000 (and growing) women's self-defense case study.

Something we always strive to remind anyone jogging, walking or running on their own is to be very careful about not closing out their surroundings by listening to music on an iPod or similar.

Yes, it is very tempting to put those headphones on, but is simply one of the single most dangerous thing you can do. By doing so, you are in effect shutting down your awareness to the almost non-existent. Just by watching someone talking on a cell phone or walking while listening to music, you will see that not only is the sense of hearing "gone" - the visual awareness is severly hampered as well.

Monday, August 4, 2008

A push-in and a rape attempt

Random violence, stalking, push-in and a rape attempt

You probably read about it all the time. "Random violence" - a stranger jumping out from the shadows to assault you.

While this may happen (leaving the random part out), it is far more likely that you are either assaulted by someone you know. Or, if it is a stranger, that the attack occurs close to, or at your residence.

After looking into more than 5000 cases of women fighting back, and talking to researchers, police and numerous victims, we know it is so.

One of the methods perpetrators may use is commonly referred to as a push-in, exemplified here. You should also note that the attacker followed (stalked) his intended victim before striking.

A 24-year-old British man stalked, assaulted and tried to rape a young female doctor from Sheffield on her own doorstep.

The man followed the woman to her flat late at night October 2007. He then attacked her as she opened her door. The woman suddenly found herself thrown forward into her home, landing on her back. The assailant then straddled the would-be victim and tried to rape her.

The woman reportedly fought her attacker, trying to stop him from pinning her down. When her mobile phone rang, the man allegedly gave up and fled.

And today's women's self-defense tip is...?

First of all it is to be aware of your surrounding as you are about to enter your home or car. Secondly - always make a habit of having your keys ready in hand before you get to the door. Your set of keys is a potential self-defense weapon. And of course, keeping them ready in hand as you approach the door, reduces the time it takes to actually open the door.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Arming yourself - with knowledge

Your two best self-defense weapons

The single best women's self-defense tip I could possibly offer is for you to arm yourself with knowledge. Along with you brain, knowledge is nothing short of the "ultimate weapon".

The easiest way by far to avoid any kind of trouble - ranging from harassment to violent sexual assaults - is to know how perpetrators and predators operate; how they think, plan and set up their devious acts.

Random violence?

"Random violence", you say? Forget it; a criminal with plans and preparations - however insignificant those preparations might be - is more common than sand in the Sahara desert! I am fully aware how media likes to hype up assaults as being random, but that's another thing all together.

And as you hopefully begin to see the patterns evolve, you stand a far greater chance of avoiding being set upon in the first place.

Here's a recent, quite typical, example

A teenage girl was reportedly the latest victim of an assault on or near a specific bridge in the southeast part of Chatham, Ontario (Canada). There has allegedly been six assaults in that area during the past two years.

A man grabbed the girl from behind as she crossed the bridge around 4 p. m. on a Thursday, according to Chatham-Kent Police. Luckily, the teen managed to fight the attacker off, before she ran away and called police.

Now there are two very obvious patterns here. One is that the attacker strikes from behind. The other is the location - that particular bridge. Why is this so? Glad you asked!

If you start to look at it with the eyes of a criminal, you will see that there are things in common as to why, when, how and where incidents occur. Simply ask yourself this: If you were the perpetrator, where would you be sure to find potential victims walking, jogging or being preoccupied with, say parking a car or similar? Is this place isolated enough; are there any escape routes?

It may very well be disturbing to think like this - I totally understand. However, it is the best way to arm yourself - using knowledge. And in this case here, the bridge in question is a perfect place to for a criminal to strike.

Should you avoid such a place all together? Maybe, but I will not say that conclusively. What I will say is that any place that brings up a red flag like this should at least be treated with great caution and heightened awareness.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Sexual assaults increase during summer

More frequent on weekends and during warm weather

Several studies, including a 2007 report in the Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine, shows how sexual assaults like rape and rape attempts are more frequent during warm weather and on weekends.

It has been estimated that around half of all "stranger-to-stranger" outdoor sexual attacks is occurring during the summer season.

This is definitely nothing new; it should be a well known fact by now. Still, it might be a good idea to remind ourselves of this from time to time. After all, the best women's self-defense tip is perhaps to be armed with knowledge.

A Swedish psychology professor with the Stockholm University, Sven Aa. Christianson, recently noted what he believed contributed to these figures going up.

There is no coincidence that we see a significant increase, he said. The professor stated that even though a rapist has the same thoughts and fantasies during winter, the number of possible targets are far greater during summer.

We spent more time in, or passing through, higher risk areas. These areas are, from an attacker's point of view, suitable places to hit on a potential victim.

The Swedish professor also pointed to how our consciousness about possible risks decreased. He said that we are in effect lured into a false sense of security by the brighter summer nights and the number of people moving about.

"You may take a shortcut which you would normally avoid in the winter, when it's darker," he pointed out. The same shortcut is in fact safer during the winter...

Concerts, outdoor parties, alcohol, walking home alone because it's nice and warm, a reduced sense of risk ... All these factors probably contribute to the fact that 50% of a total of 837 outdoor rape incidents were reported during the months of May through September in Sweden (2007).