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Tragedy, Awareness and Being Prepared

On one of my news feeds today, there were three stories about abductions - two in Memphis and one in Camas, Washington. One ended tragically with a well-liked teacher and mother of two abducted and brutally murdered. The other two ended a bit better but still, the emotional trauma remains.

The other abduction in Memphis involved a mother and her 1-year old baby. The victim was putting groceries into her vehicle outside a Target store on with her 1-year-old child when the two male suspects approached them while displaying a handgun. The suspects then forced the victim and her child into the suspect's vehicle, drove them to a bank and forced the victim to withdraw money from the ATM. The suspects then released the mother and child after she complied with their demands.

In the Washington incident, the female victim said a man approached her vehicle asking for some water. She gave him some water, which allowed him to enter her vehicle. Once inside, the man got out a knife, took control of the car, and drove with the woman still inside to a nearby area. At some point, when the vehicle slowed along a dirt road, the woman jumped out and she began banging on the doors of nearby residences for help. The suspect was caught after a short chase.

Many self-defense instructors will offer training intended to frighten participants into believing the ‘boogie man’ is around every corner or every van is driven by a rapist. The truth is the type of attack that occurred to the teacher in Memphis is an anomaly but none the less tragic.

There is, however, a common thread running through all three of these incidents – Distractions. Additionally, all three were females. (Note: There is no blame being put on the victims in any of these attacks. These are merely observations and information based on the descriptions of the incidents.)

In the first Memphis incident, the victim was running. Early in the morning as was her usual habit. She was a marathoner, so she was probably ‘in the zone’ that many runners get in when they are training. She may have been wearing earbuds which make it difficult to hear and can be distracting as well. She was also running in a familiar area and her ‘spidey sense’ wasn’t turned up.

In the second Memphis incident, the mom was distracted, and her attention was divided between loading groceries and watching her child, plus it was the middle of the day – not the time the ‘boogie man’ is usually out. She was also probably thinking about getting home and doing all the other ‘mom things’ she needed to do.

In the last incident, the victim was trying to do something nice – give someone some water and was immediately victimized. We get so used to seeing ‘homeless’ people on corners anymore, we don’t give it a second thought. We don’t know who they are or their backgrounds. Why would you roll your window down and let them near you?

What are the chances you could become a victim?

  • Every 68 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted.

  • Young Americans are at the highest risk for sexual violence.

  • 1 in 3 women experience sexual violence in their lifetime.

  • 55% of assaults occur at or near the victim’s home.

  • 93% of sexual assault perpetrators are known by the victim.

  • According to the FBI, 543,018 people went missing in 2020. More than 340,000 were children. While most of the children were later found alive and well, the numbers show an alarming fact — kidnappers tend to go after those who are most vulnerable.

What are your options? The problem is when there is a spate of incidents like this, there are many who will wring their hands and swear the sky is falling … for about a minute. Then, all the talk about ‘doing something’ disappears and is relegated to nothing more than breathless cocktail party yammering. It is maddening! So, what to do?

The bottom line is there needs to be some investment in your personal protection. I am not advocating being paranoid and looking over your shoulder constantly. I don’t. But I am aware of what’s happening around me. Most people will go through their day like they are wearing blinders and have no idea what’s happening right next to them. Others will see something that could be potentially harmful to them (a fight at WalMart) and instead of leaving, they’ll stand around and watch and worse yet, take video! The same can be said about people driving. Most are more concerned with what’s on their phone than the cars going 60-70 miles per hour right next to them. ZERO situational or environmental awareness!

Most people don’t have the desire to initiate any kind of personal protection program. Many believe it’ll never happen to them, and they may be right … until it does. I’m absolutely sure the three victims in the incidents mentioned here hadn’t given the possibility of being attacked much thought. Having said that, there is an old martial art saying that goes, “Even a master can be a victim of circumstance.” Sometimes, there is nothing you can do. However, most often there is.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Practice being aware of your surroundings.

  • If running, change routes periodically.

  • Wear only one ear bud when out and about and then, only if necessary.

  • Carry a less-lethal self-defense option (pepper spray, Munio®, etc.) and know how to use it correctly.

  • Get some basic hand-to-hand skills.

  • Get educated - Get trained!

It is my sincerest hope that these victims and their families can work through the trauma and pain of these events. It would be better if they never occurred. There is a lot you can do to prevent yourself or your loved ones from become the victim of a violent crime. You can …



The Director's Desk

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