Thursday, April 09, 2009

A Case For Self-Defense

Next weekend is my 10-yr college reunion. I'd like to go, but probably won't, because we can't find a petsitter for Bailey.

Anyway, it occured to me that if it's almost been 10 years since I graduated from college, that it has also been ten years from the scariest night of my life.

Ten years ago this weekend, I was attacked.

My senior year, I lived off campus in a beautiful, brand-new apartment complex. It was about a 15-minute walk from campus. You walked along a well-lit main road until you got to the outskirts of campus. Then you arrived at a cluster of research science labs. Walk past these buildings until you get to a courtyard in front of the Levine Science Research Center, then walk up one flight of steps to Science Drive. Cross Science Drive and walk behind the chapel until you get to the main quad.

Done.

I did that walk every day. It was pretty easy. In fact, I never really gave it much thought, which was probably a big mistake.

Anyway, that night the ballroom dance team was hosting a dance-a-thon to raise money for travel to upcoming dance competitions. I was on the organizing commitee and was supposed to be there to help set up, but I'd had a hair and wardrobe emergency that evening, so I was running late.

As I walked through the courtyard of the LSRC towards the steps up to Science Drive, I noticed it was a bit darker than usual, but didn't really think anything about it. After all, I was in a rush. What did I care if it was dark? Of course it was dark...it was getting late.

I was almost to the stairs when I heard footsteps. I turned around and saw a young man, maybe about my age. Maybe a little older. I don't know why he attracted my attention, because he could have been any random student, walking around campus. Just like me.

But for some reason, my heart started beating faster.

Almost as soon as I'd decided I had something to worry about, I decided to ignore it. He wasn't doing anything wrong. He was just walking. Just like me. It's a college campus. Students walk. So why was I scared of him? There was no reason for me to be scared.

The only possible reason I could think of at that moment to explain why I might be scared was that he was black. And that utterly disgusted me. I was thoroughly appalled at my behavior. How could I be so prejudiced? So horrible?

So I turned around and started up the steps.

About halfway up, the footsteps behind me turned into a run. And before I had a chance to react, he was upon me.

He grabbed me with one arm around my neck, and the other reached up my dress. I screamed and tried to swing my purse at him, but I couldn't, and it went sailing out of my hands.

(I'm pausing here to gain composure. Just talking about this is getting me agitated.)

I struggled out of his hold and spun to face him. He was standing below me on the steps, so I wasn't sure if I would get a good aim at him. So instead of kneeing him in the groin like I should have, I decided to kick out and up, towards his face.

And I connected. Hard.

But because I was on the steps, I lost my footing and fell to my knees. Through the pain, I could sense him standing above me. He growled "You b@#$%!"

And then suddenly, I heard another voice. "Stop! Get away from her!"

The attacker and I both turned and saw a guy standing at the bottom of the steps. He wasn't very big -- he certainly wouldn't have won in a fight with the bully who'd attacked me -- but he was incredibly brave.

The attacker looked at him, then at me, then back at him, while he decided what to do. I guess he weighed his options and decided it wasn't worth it, because there was a witness. So he ran back down the steps, shoving the witness as he raced past.

He then spun around (and here's where this whole thing gets fuzzy...remember, it was incredibly dark around there -- we later learned the perp had busted out all the streetlights) and pulled what appeared to be a gun on us. The reason I say "appeared to be a gun" is because we really don't know. It could have been a gun. Or it could have been his finger held in the shape of a gun.

He then said "Don't move. Don't even think about it." He held that position for what seemed like a couple of minutes, but couldn't have been more than about ten seconds.

Then he was gone.

So why did I just tell this story? Because it's so very important that all women (and men!) know how to protect themselves. Please do yourself a favor. Take a basic self-defense class.

Here are some tips from Defend University, a research and development group dedicated to self-defense:

1. Stay aware of people in your surroundings.
2. Stay with people, go to people.
3. Keep a barrier between you and the bad guy.
4. Attract attention.
5. Control his hips and his hands.
6. Use your strongest weapons against his weakest targets.

http://www.defendu.com/wsdi/principles.htm

After the attack, I refused to live in my apartment for about a week. I stayed on the floor of my friend Lauren's dorm room on campus. In fact, it took several days before I would even leave her room. I was a zombie.

And when I did eventually start going to class, I would jump whenever I could sense someone walking behind me. My Italian class was located in the LSRC, site of the attack itself. I actually refused to go to that class, and eventually the dean of students moved the location to a different building, to accomodate me.

But the dean suggested that I see a counselor. The therapist told me that during the attack, my subconscious was trying to warn me. I got a weird feeling about that guy I saw. I should have listened to my subconscious. Instead, I ignored it, afraid that I was being racist.

But our subconscious doesn't lie. It's almost always right. In his bestselling book, Gavin deBecker calls this the "gift of fear." This book helped me get back on track, so that I could actually attend class and end up graduating a few weeks later. Without this book, I doubt I ever would have left Lauren's dorm room.

So please, learn how to protect yourself.

As a first step, I will give a copy of "The Gift of Fear" to one person who comments on this post between now and 11:59 pm, Sunday, April 12. I'll announce the winner on Mel's post on Monday.


P.S. To my mystery hero that night...I don't think I ever got a chance to properly thank you. You might have saved my life. So if you're reading this -- although I doubt you are -- THANK YOU.

77 comments:

  1. *sniff* this really moved me. ((hugs)) thank you for sharing this. I can only imagine how hard it was.

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  2. Interestingly enough, I posted on my blog today about getting my concealed carry permit for my handgun.

    I know some self-defense moves that can stop just about anyone, but that doesn't mean I ever hope to have to use them or my gun.

    What an awful experience. Thank God you're okay and that mystery man was in the right place at the right time!

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  3. Oh Amanda. Wow. I know this was so hard to share, thank you for your bravery, then and now. *big hugs*

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  4. Reaghan11:22 AM

    You're right! Our subconscious doesn't lie but it's funny how we tend to ignore it sometimes. I was raped when I was 14 and the same man tried again years later. I wish then that I had learned how to defend myself. The sad thing is, even after that, I've never took a self-defense class but I think that should go on my to-do list. Thanks for sharing this and bringing awareness to women and thanks to your hero for saving you from something even more horrible!

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  5. Thanks for sharing your awful night with us--hopefully it saves someone's life.

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  6. Oh Amanda. I haven't read that book, but I've heard about it, and your story really made me think of it. I have a tendency to be a worrywart/paranoid, and usually try to talk myself out of my worries, because if I didn't I'd be jumping at every shadow. It's hard to know where the balance is between being afraid of everything, and being afraid when you really should be.

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  7. Oh my God! Thank goodness you were able to get away - and even then the emotional impact can be devastating. My heart was pumping just reading this.

    I took Wing Chun kung fu several years ago since I was traveling a lot - a lot of wandering around trying to find my hotel in strange cities and a lot of dark parking lots after hours. Nothing ever happened, thankfully. I don't know if I could use it today, but I'm a lot better off than never having thought of it.

    Thanks for the very valuable message.

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  8. I know in the past I've seen you post things that hinted at this.
    You've become an amazing spokesperson for the average woman.
    Awesome post. Thank you for sharing it, Amanda.

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  9. Amanda, thanks for sharing your story. I've been in the same situation and the results were different but I survived.

    A self defense class is great. I'm glad you're okay and that the mystery man spoke up. One thing it taught me was to trust my instincts. I have to protect myself.

    I've never had to use the techniques I've learned (and hope I don't have to) but if I do I know I can.

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  10. In the U.S., someone is sexually assulted every 2 minutes. With statistics like that, you can't afford NOT to know how to defend yourself.

    Take a self-defense class and TAKE YOUR DAUGHTERS. If they're old enough to be out of your supervision, they're old enough to learn how to protect themselves.

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  11. Yup - I actually just blogged about this today too, go figure. (And I already own a copy of The Gift of Fear. *EXCELLENT* book.)

    And yes, I own a gun too. And a permit.

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  12. Anonymous12:01 PM

    I can't imagine how scared you were. Thanks so much for sharing.

    Margaret Crowley

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  13. It's been years since I was last attacked by a stranger. And isn't that just a horrible way to measure time? Here's another bit of lousy math: The set of all women I know, and that of all women I know who have been assaulted by someone, intersect fully.

    It's so much a part of our worlds, we don't consciously think about how we plan our days to avoid obvious trouble spots: badly-lit areas around twilight, or deserted streets, which parks we shun when we're alone, how and when we lock or unlock our cars and houses. "Can't make the concert on Thursday, that's my self-defense class." We live in a mature civilised society, where the rule of law is the foundation, and what that means for us practically speaking is, we probably don't have to go armed to get the week's groceries.

    But yeah, when you get that little buzz that says something doesn't feel right, that means something is not right, and just stopping what you're doing and looking around for the not-right will make you look less of a potentially easy target.

    And whatever happens, or has happened, it is not your fault. Ever.

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  14. OMG, Amanda! That's a horrible story--but thank you so much for sharing it.

    My daughter is just this week attending a self-defense course aimed at protecting her from an attacker. Hearing your story makes me soooo glad I signed her up for it.

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  15. I'm a survivor. College campuses are among the most common places for sexual assault, rape, mugging. I'm so glad you got away intact.

    It may be that your unknown friend was an angel. He certainly has MY gratitude.

    Make noise. The attacker wants to get away. Also never leave your location. Run, and don't run straight in case he has a gun-- very hard to hit a moving target. And BE LOUD.

    Thanks for sharing this, Amanda. It must have been very hard.

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  16. Thank you for sharing your story! I'm just glad it had a 'good' ending. At least much better than it could have been. You made so many amazing points and The Gift of Fear will be priceless to whoever wins it (don't enter me in the contest, I've read it) I was raised by a 'paranoid' mother who taught me never to ignore my gut instinct and that book reiterated everything I was ever taught. Thanks for spreading the word about it!

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  17. Thank you for sharing this. It gave me the chills and reminded me to trust those gut feelings. I'll be passing this reminder along. Thank you for that.

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  18. Anonymous12:50 PM

    Amanda - thank you for sharing your experience. I have my own experience and I'm sure many women (and probably some men) have their own experiences, whether they choose to share them or not. I think you are very brave to talk about it, and to encourage others to learn to be self-sufficient in the art of self-defense. You may have saved a life today. ~ Debra Newhouse

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  19. Anonymous12:51 PM

    Thank you for sharing your story. On the self defense front I haven't taken formal training, but I practice Jukido with my son after all his classes to keep the moves fresh in his mind. So by way of practice, I'm learning to defend myself enough to take someone down and have time to run. As far as instincts are concerned, I never doubt mine, and they are usually spot on. There's no telling how many times that little voice in my ear has steered me clear of trouble.

    Glad to hear it wasn't worse than it could have been and horay for you for not letting it paralyse your life.

    JET75@JETaylor75.com

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  20. Rachel Usleaman12:55 PM

    I have to say, it's always gratifying to hear these kinds of stories. I have a stalker...I had to press a lot of charges, and some people get on me about "overreacting." Thank you for this post.

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  21. Thanks for sharing this story. It is funny how our subconsciousness has a way of warning us... unfortunately society teaches us not to always listen to it. I give credit to the mystery man that stepped forward.

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  22. I always feel a twinge of worry when I see a girl walking late at night with her earbuds in, slouching, eyes on the ground, hands in pockets, backpack half falling off her shoulder. She's practically screaming "prey." No one wants to live in a state of fear, but you're right, it is a gift we should honor when circumstances dictate.

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  23. Thank you for posting this. I've thankfully been able to listen to my instincts and it's kept me from situations such as this, but it never hurts to be reminded that I need to continue my self defense and to listen to my head.

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  24. I was similarly attacked in 1999, on Halloween night. Though I was not alone, and there was more than one attacker. Thankfully, I was not badly injured (and all I lost was my wallet and my sense of safety).

    I'm okay, and so is my friend. But that night sticks with me. I've heard of THE GIFT OF FEAR many times, and looking back on that night there were things I probably should have paid more attention to. It's definitely made me trust my gut more.

    I'm glad you're okay.

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  25. Wow. Thank you for sharing this. I've been lucky to never be in a situation where I had to protect myself. But I know that I've just been that - lucky.

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  26. Yes! Every person, man or woman, should go out and buy The Gift of Fear. Don't ever feel bad about being wary of someone. Anyone for any reason. Your fear of being "mean" and wary of someone is what they can use to get the jump on you. I am wary of every single man when I'm out and about. I don't care how big, how small, race, whatever.

    PS Don't waste your book giveaway on me - I've had the book for at least 10 years and I'm never getting rid of it!

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  27. Thanks for sharing your ordeal, Amanda. Trusting your gut is the best advice ever!

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  28. ((hugs)) to everyone who is sharing a story on here today. you guys are so brave. thank you for your honesty. it's SCARY how often this happens. :(

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  29. How lucky you are to survive. Go you! You rock.

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  30. Thanks so much for the amazing outpouring of support. Although it was incredibly scary at the time (and obviously still gets to me because I found myself in tears today after writing it), I was lucky. Sure, he stole my sense of safety, but other than touching me, nothing really ended up happening.

    It certainly could have been much worse.

    But many other people's stories don't end that way. So please, please, please take every step you can to ensure you never end up in this position.

    And a special hug to everyone who has commented who has also shared or hinted at their own traumatic tales. I know this is as hard for you (and probably more) as it is for me. You are to be commended.

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  31. Wow. I've had moments like that, but I'm so naturally paranoid, I never ignore those moments. Glad to know there's something to it, and it can keep you safe.

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  32. Amanda, thank you for telling your story - I'm going to make sure my teenage daughter reads this.

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  33. Thank you for sharing this. I made a post about self defense recently- mostly I was talking about how importnant it was to get used to the idea of taking a hit in self defense classes, so your brain doesn't overload when you need it most (So you can get beyond "OMG HE HIT ME" and go on to "I KNOW WHAT TO DO NEXT COME HERE ASSHOLE").

    And your rescuer deserves some cookies. :)

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  34. My daughter will be taking a self-defense class the moment she's old enough. I took my class at the end of college and wish I had taken it BEFORE starting school. I sat down once and counted how many times I was either attacked or made to feel insecure/scared in my life. Too many times to ever want my daughter to have to deal with the same.

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  35. Thank you for sharing your story, and for giving us all a reminder to always be aware of our surroundings AND to trust our gut.

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  36. I was mugged a few years ago, and had a similar experience of knowing something was wrong beforehand but ignoring it. Thank you for posting about your experience; reading this (and the ensuing outpouring of comments from others) has made me feel better...and it's really inspired me to get my hands on that book!

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  37. Thank you for sharing that story. Those self defense tips are spot on. I always believe in going with your initial instincts, if someone makes you uncomfortable regardless of race/gender/whatever, then you shouldn't ignore that feeling. Even if it's just being more guarded and aware, at least you are prepared.

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  38. Hmm...I dont iknow if it was the author of that book or a simlar one, but I saw about 5 minutes of an interview with him and he said something that really rang true for me: Humans are the only species in the world that will have an "i'm in danger" instinct and choose to ignore it. We will watch elevator doors open and see someone totally scary inside, and we'll climb in anyway.

    he says the one thing you can do to is listen to your instincts instead of talk yourself out of them.

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  39. Thanks for sharing your story. I know how hard it is to talk about these types of situations.

    Self-defense is important, but so is good self-esteem and strategies to deal with attacks from people you know. Stranger attacks are unfortunately the rarest form of sexual abuse. We need to teach our daughters to respect themselves and their wishes enough to say no when they need to. Enough to take action when a man they know tries to take advantage of them.

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  40. I'm so sorry you had to go through that. It's horrible that things like this happen. I know many people reading this can relate to your story and even if they don't win a copy of the book from you, hopefully they will still pick up a copy or at least get the gist from the title and trust their instincts.

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  41. I remember hearing about this book on Oprah or something once but I was absolutely fascinated by what the man had to say. He was saying that fear is a gift, our way to know when something bad might be coming. He was talking about how we'd never get into a metal box with someone dangerous but that's exactly what we do when we get on an elevator with a man who scares us because we don't want to be rude.
    Fascinating blog.

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  42. Talesfromthecrit and Mandy,

    Yes, that's exactly it! I was so concerned about being perceived as racist that I ignored what my internal sensor was telling me.

    My fear had nothing to do with this guy's race. It had to do with the fact that he was a bad guy. His race had nothing to do with it.

    But being a naturally trusting person at the time, I couldn't figure out why I felt scared around him, when he wasn't doing anything wrong at the time...or at least that I could tell. (He'd already busted out all the streetlights, apparently.) But he looked like a perfectly safe guy. So I didn't know why I felt worried and decided to attribute my fear to soemthing else.

    And hated what I thought I was seeing in myself.

    I never should have allowed myself to second guess my fear. My fear was real. My subconscious was telling me to RUN!

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  43. Anonymous2:12 PM

    Thank you so much for your post. It's an important reminder to us all to be aware of our surroundings - especially important when you're out and about alone. Like another commenter mentioned, I too get concerned at the numbers of young women I see walking around the city absorbed in their music or cell phones. I try not to make the same mistakes. I'm so glad you're able to share your story with us.

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  44. Wow, Amanda! That is horrifying! I'm so glad you weren't hurt worse or raped! Our gut instincts are always right, even when our brains try to rationalize in these situations. Thank you for sharing it with us. Thank you for re-living it so that others can learn from you.

    Mandy mentioned that "I'm in danger instinct" and it is so true. Our political correctness and fear of looking foolish often lead us to foolishly disregard our guts.

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  45. Julie H2:15 PM

    First, hugs to Amanda and everyone else who's had to deal with something like this.

    Thanks for posting, Amanda. That's wonderful advice. I always try and stay aware of surroundings, but it never hurts to be reminded of it.

    Julie

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  46. Wow! Great post! You must have been terrified! Glad you're OK.

    ~SheWolfSilver~

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  47. Amanda, thanks for sharing. The book I'm writing now deals with self defense and I've been doing some research. Right now, in the U.S., close to five hundred thousand sex offenders are out there somewhere.

    Yes, we need to listen to our instincts. Always. And scream at the top of our lungs and don't stop screaming while trying to get away.

    I wonder if the guy helped you still thinks about that night. Glad you're safe!

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  48. Thank you for being brave enough to post this story. I'm always telling my friends to be careful and not walk alone, and they don't listen to me which is totally infuriating because, even though I'd like to think our campus is relatively safe, stuff still happens. I always try to be aware of my surroundings...using reflections in car and building windows is a good way to pretty much have eyes in the back of your head.

    My dad always said the most important thing is to THINK about this sort of situation happening, and drill it into your head what you would do if something like this ever happened. This way, you don't have those precious seconds of indecision--you're instantly ready to fight back.

    Thank you again for sharing with us...I think I might tell my friends about this and make them read it. Maybe it'll finally knock some sense into them!

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  49. Thanks so much for your brave and truthful post, Amanda. And I agree so much about the "listen to your instinct" advice -- I think we're so often afraid of being laughed at for overreacting or being irrational, that we ignore our subconscious...and our subconscious knows an awful lot.

    BTW, one thing that a cop told me that really stuck in my mind, was why they say beware of stairwells. Modern stairwells in buildings have to be fireproofed -- which means they're soundproofed as well. So now if I'm alone I'll always notice whether stairs are open (so sound can get out), or not...

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  50. I've been stalked a few times. I've, too, learned not to ignore my subconscious and my posts about it managed to help other women victimized by the same person. He's since been arrested at least once.

    That sounds like a very interesting book.

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  51. Thanks for posting this - I know it was hard. I have been afraid of people a few times. One time I was scared, and had no idea if I had a reason to be. I pretended I'd forgotten something, and yelled, "Oh, shit!" as I ran away. I probably looked dumb, but that's better than looking dead. I have this fear of looking stupid - what's up with that? Are we all that way?

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  52. You have done a very brave and selfless thing by sharing this horrifying moment from your life. Perhaps you will keep 1 person from finding herself in this situation. Many years ago I found myself in a similar position. Walking down Lexington Ave. (NYC) at 1 am when the subways were screwed up and I couldn't get off at my usual, residential stop. Instead I was in the middle of the shopping zone - dead at that time of night. I was aware of my surroundings, listening, etc. I saw a figure walking behind, and on the opposite side of the street from me. Then without warning (and I didn't hear footsteps) a guy jumped me. He threw me up against a tree and I have no idea what he had in mind but I was immediately outraged - I guess it was the "fight" of the fight or flight response. I bellowed so loud (voice training comes in handy at the oddest times) and flung my arms around and he took off. But when I was walking down another city street one night and got the prickling sensation up the back of my neck - I crossed the street, and went back where I'd come from and maybe, just maybe, saved myself from a far worse experience. Your advice and your warning are well worth taking, Amanda.

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  53. I keep meaning to take a self-defense class, and then never following through. I think I'll look into what's around me today.

    Thank you.

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  54. Yikes! Thank you for sharing this story, it may have helped a woman who comes into a similar situation.

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  55. Thank you so much for sharing your story, Amanda. Truly moving, truly scary.

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  56. Heard about you through Cleolinda (www.cleolinda.livejournal.com) and just wanted to say that I enjoyed reading your post.
    I think that just trusting that gut feeling can be used in most situations, and I've learned that trusting it can never steer me wrong.

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  57. You are so right on. Pay attention to those prickly feelings along the back of your neck; be aware of your surroundings. If you are going to your car have your keys out and look like you could use them as a weapon if need be.

    I've had one scary experience along the lines of yours. Since then I've never let my guard down when I'm alone at night.

    Thank you for posting this.

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  58. Wow! Thanks for posting this and sharing your scary experience with us. Our gut instinct is so important. I remember one night my husband and I (back when we were dating) went to a park at night to kiss and talk. We weren't there very long. My husband's not a timid guy but he said he had a bad feeling. It was very weird because I did too. We could sense danger around us and felt as though we were being watched so we left. I'm glad we did. Instinct is an amazing thing.

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  59. write_hb5:50 PM

    Thanks for sharing an incident you probably try not to think about. Hopefully your post will help others to protect themselves.

    I took self-defense years ago. We learned how not to end up in an unsafe situation in the first place. And there was stuff in there about trusting your gut. We learned the 7 best places to hit someone to incapacitate them. We learned to break holds. We practiced putting multiple moves together to make our getaway – always with other female partners we didn’t want to hurt.

    And then our instructor brought in a friend – a very large military friend in full body padding. One by one he attacked us. And one by one we had to hit/kick as *hard* as we could in order to escape. No amount of theoretical learning compares. That’s the true value the right self-defense course. Although I could totally understand someone who’d been attacked in the past not wanting to take part. It was a little freaky.

    I took another self-defense course last year. I figure it’s like first aid – every once in a while you need a refresher.

    Now I’m in kickboxing. Not cardio kickboxing but the kind where we punch and kick our padded partner. There are only two women in the class I’m happy to partner with – both with belts in other martial arts. They’re the only ones willing to hit me with everything they’ve got so I’m comfortable hitting them with everything I’ve got. The others? Hate to be cliché but they hit like girls. It’s like there’s a mental barrier for women. Nice girls don’t hit. So they hit half-heartedly. They giggle when they do it. Then they quit the class and move to aerobics. I hope if they’re ever attacked, adrenalin kicks in to overcome that mental barrier. My fear is that they’d still hit like girls. Because I don’t think punching the air or lightly tapping a bag has prepared them.

    OK, stepping down off my self-defense / martial arts for women soapbox now.

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  60. Wow! Very scary, yet helpful post. I've read The Gift of Fear, and I would suggest it to anyone. I heard the author speak on Oprah, and I agree with what he said about women being taught to "be nice" ... sometimes to our detriment.

    If I win the book I will pass it along!

    Thanks for the post! Lovin' this blog:)

    Jillian Clemmons
    www.jillianclemmons.com

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  61. Gosh, Amanda, I'm so sorry you went through that terrible ordeal. Thanks for sharing it and also for the self-defence tips. Next time my instincts tell me to run, I really will run.

    Vanessa

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  62. I've never been able to find a copy of this book. I really, deeply want it, and have wanted it ever since I heard about it, because I know I have a terrible tendency to WANT to believe the best in the world, so I stomp on all my misgivings whenever they pop up.

    I was maybe fifteen, walking home with my dog. A car drove up, slowing for the corner. It was a beat-up car, with one man in it. I inwardly flinched, and hate myself for flinching, and I smiled at him: 'hello, I am happy and I hope you are too'.

    The car crawled alongside the curb. I crossed the street. He hung back. I walked a little faster, not running, hoping the man saw the muscled mass of my dog and not the way he dragged me behind like a fish on a line. It was maybe two hundred yards two my house. He followed just behind all the way home, around a corner, into my cul-de-sac, and loitered at the base of the driveway while I calmly unlatched the side gate, let the dog off the leash, and raced inside, locking doors and closing blinds against him. Once I had done all I could, I remember crouching behind my bed, away from the window that faced the street, thinking 'I'm alone in the suburbs in the middle of the day and if he breaks my window nobody will notice.'

    When I told a friend about it, years later, she laughed and told me I was too nice to strangers.

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  63. Wow, Amanda - what a story. It reminded me of being 16 and having a gun pointed at me through a car window. There is no fear bigger than your circumstances being out of your control and the utter fear that goes with that feeling. Yay for all of us that you survived and that you have an unsung hero.

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  64. You always have to listen to you gut. Thanks so much for sharing this. It was very brave of you.

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  65. Amanda,
    What a horrible, incredible, brave story. Thanks for sharing this with us--it's obviously still painful to recount. I think you're so right on trusting your instincts, on going with your gut feeling. Thank god you are okay.

    One thing I learned in self-defense class is to go crazy if someone attacks you. Scream, struggle, punch, kick, bite--act like an insane person. Your attacker likely won't want to deal with that. And if you do punch/kick/whatever, make it count. Take him out if you can. Then run like hell away.

    thanks again, Amanda.

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  66. You've just inspired me to put my daughter into self defense classes. I think it is great that you posted this to help others

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  67. I think my comment got erased when I tried to log in with my Word Press identity. I just wanted to thank you for sharing your experience with us, and I hope it motivates women of all ages to sign up for at least a basic self defense course.

    Big virtual hug to your mystery rescuer. Sometimes being a hero isn't about being a superman as much as it is being willing to put yourself on the line for someone else, including a stranger. Thanks again for sharing this with us, Amanda.

    Michelle Lauren (in case my profile doesn't show)

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  68. What a horrible, horrible thing to have happen. I'm so sorry. Thank God your Knight in Shining Armor whoever he was showed up to interrupt that creep.

    Hugs, Cher

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  69. Thanks. I also have a teenage daughter who is starting to explore the world on her own. Time to warn her as well.

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  70. Food for thought. I'm the mother of three teen daughters who are becoming more and more independent and busy with activities. One will begin taking college classes along with high school this year. I think I'll look into a self defense class for them--might be a good summer activity.

    Becca Sheridan-Furrow

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  71. Just adding to the chorus of thanks for sharing your story. I know far too many women--no, people--who have been through experiences like this, and not enough people talking about it and learning from it. You've done a good thing here.

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  72. Amanda,
    I thank God he sent an angel that day to save you. I am so sorry you went through it. Hugs,kiddo.
    Kim

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  73. Great blog, Amanda. Good of you to speak up about this issue. I was never attacked, but once when I was in college a guy broke into my apartment. My screaming aroused neighbors and he took off. I thought about a gun but decided I was too high-strung for that. But ever since, I never go anywhere without my pepper spray, and if I'm alone or at a hotel, I always sleep with it beside the bed. The Gift of Fear is a great book, and full of good practical advice about staying safe.

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  74. Oh my God, I felt a chill just reading this. It took courage to blog about it. There were a lot of attacks at the campus where I went to school. It's so scary. Thank you for sharing your story.

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  75. Oh, Amanda, I got teary eyed reading your post and all the comments. I think you may have prevented something horrible from happening today.

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  76. I took a self-defense class years ago. After one class, I had two teens come up to me at the grocery store parking lot, and tell me to give them my keys. I looked at them like "You have to be kidding me." I think it was fully my attitude, but they actually started to laugh and walked off. I'm 5'3". Doesn't matter that I was petite ... thank you for sharing your story, Amanda.

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  77. Sadie9:30 AM

    Thank you for this excellent advice.

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