A female student can be attacked anytime, on or off campus. Nationwide, 261,000 women fell victim to sexual assault or rape last year. One out of every six American women will be attacked or assaulted in her lifetime. U.S. college campuses alone witnessed over 8,000 instances of assault in 2003.
According to law enforcement officials, attackers lurk in many of the same places. Parking lots are a favorite locale for those who attack or abduct women. Another favorite site is in a public restroom. Females who have late night classes should be extra careful. Using the restrooms or walking around campus should be avoided after late classes.
“I feel safe on campus,” Woodland student Nancy Klopfenstein said. “I have day classes, none at night.”
But women can be attacked during the day as well.
Early mornings are a prime time for attacks. Assailants look for long hair, a ponytail or braids, which they can grab during the attack. Although many attackers carry scissors to cut clothing, any type of clothing that can be easily removed is desirable. Attackers also look for women who are preoccupied, on the cell phone, for instance, or looking down or in their purse.
If threatened, a woman should look her potential attacker in the eyes and ask a question or make small talk since an assailant is less likely to attack someone who can identify him. Women should also carry with them long objects that can be swung or used at a distance, like umbrellas.
There is no such thing as a limited response. You must be willing to gouge eyes, crush a neck or even break bones, whatever you have to do to get away.
Women should also carry pepper spray and be willing to use it. If you are being approached put your hands out and yell, “STOP!” or “STAY BACK!” When it looks like a woman will fight back or be a hard target, the attacker will usually run.
An attacker will more often not have a weapon because if he is caught, it can mean up to 20 years in prison. However, if a gun is drawn on you, the best advice from law officials is to run in a zigzag pattern away from the attacker.
When there is an attacker who is demanding your money, throw your wallet or purse down away from you and run in the opposite direction. It will take too much time for the assailant to pick it up and go after you.
If your attacker does get a hold on you, try to break his hold by rotating your wrists into his grip until the narrow part of your wrist forces his fingers apart. Then quickly snap your wrist through the gap in one fluid motion.
Another way to get out of an attacker’s hold is to gouge his eyes. Scratching his eyes is not an effective deterrent. This will just make him angry. Use your finger to jab his eye socket with as rapid a blow as you can. Use both hands. Using only one hand makes it too easy to block.
Walking with another student whom you know and trust is perhaps the best form of protection. When asked what she does to protect herself, Woodland student Stacie Nguyen said, “I walk with a friend around campus.”
Law officials recommend that if you are parked by a large van, get into your car from the other side. Be aware of your surroundings and look in and around your car before getting in. Lock your car doors and drive away. Do not sit in your car and read.
For many students long days filled with busy schedules prevent them from being able to go home between classes to nap. They use their vehicles to catch a few moments of sleep. This is not a safe idea. If an attacker sees you sleeping in your car, you will appear to be an easy target. After sleeping your muscles do not work as quickly or as strong, and you are less alert.
In most cases, authorities recommend that if you find yourself being attacked, put up a fight. The attacker wants an easy target and will usually run if it gets too difficult. A good hard pinch on the arm between the elbow and armpit or in the upper inner thigh can often serve as a deterrent. A hard hit to the groin is another great deterrent. If he puts his hands up to you, try and grab his fingers to bend them back as far as you can. This can put him on his knees. You can also thrust your elbow into his gut, a strong blow that can give you a moment to escape.
If you are ever abducted and put into a trunk, kick out the taillights and stick your arm or leg out of the space. The drivers behind you will see you.
Attackers target young women because they appear to be vulnerable and weak. A good idea for all women is a self-defense class. An excellent self-defense class is offered in Elk Grove at the Twin Dragons School of Self Defense.
Classes, such as those taught at Twin Dragons, teach women, not only physical maneuvers to protect themselves against an attacker, but also how to appear strong and confident so they will not be chosen as the next victim.