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xmag.com : May 2004: Stayin' Alive!

Three summers ago, I was riding the subway to Brooklyn at 4AM in short shorts and halter tops. Locals marveled at my willful stupidity. I said it was safer than walking. Then a co-worker got mugged in the elevator of her apartment building...her fancy doorman apartment building. She screamed bloody murder and got lucky. But it was a wake-up call for all of us, and the old lady who looked after us office gals passed around this email. I feel obliged to pass it on to you.

Portland ain't no New York, but it's got lots of dark corners and scary streets. Hell I got chased several summers ago, walking up Broadway by PSU on a busy Friday night. There were lots of drunken frat boys everywhere, but I wasn't counting on them to stop the ominous-voiced stranger who asked me what time it was, from behind, then quickened as I quickened and finally ran after me when I RAN. I will never walk downtown Portland at night again. I bike, drive or take cabs. One brush like that was more than enough for me.

And of course there are the stats. They say one in three women will be sexually assaulted in her life. That's hard to believe...until you start asking around. Most women aren't too forthcoming with the details of how they got raped at knife point in Costa Rica, or at their college dorm in Colorado, or had a stranger's baby while at Harvard (as three of my friends confessed after I'd known them for years). The world is a nice enough place, but predators are out there, and they're looking for YOU. If you know how to avoid serious trouble, you're less likely to run into it. And what's not sexy about a girl who knows how to kick out a taillight from the inside of a trunk? [And Hallie, carry your fucking mace!!] --viva


(1.) There are three reasons women are easy targets for random acts of violence:

(a.) Lack of awareness. You MUST know where you are and what's going on around you.

(b.) Body language. Keep your head up, swing your arms, stand up straight.

(c.) Wrong place, wrong time. DON'T walk alone in an alley or drive in a bad neighborhood at night.


(2.) Women have a tendency to get into their cars after shopping, eating, working, etc., and just sit (doing their checkbook, making a list, etc.). This makes it easy for a predator to get in the passenger side, put a gun to your head and tell you where to drive. AS SOON AS YOU GET IN YOUR CAR, LOCK THE DOORS AND DRIVE.

(a.) Take mental notes as you walk to your car. Be aware: look around you, look into your car, at the passenger side and in the back seat.

(b.) 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 they are attempting to get into their cars.

(c.) 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/work and get a guard/policeman to walk you back out. IT IS ALWAYS BETTER TO BE SAFE THAN SORRY. Better paranoid than dead.


(3.) ALWAYS take the elevator instead of the stairs. (Stairwells are horrible places to be alone and the perfect crime spot).

(a.) Do not get on an elevator if there is a weirdo already on there. (Of course bad men don't always look bad.)

(b.) Do not stand back in the corners of the elevator. Be near the front, by the doors, ready to get off.

(c.) If you get on the elevator on the 25th floor and the Boogie Man gets on on the 22nd, get off when he gets on.


(4.) If the predator has a gun and you are not under his control, ALWAYS RUN!

(a.) Police only make 4 of 10 shots when they are in range of 3-9 feet. This is due to stress.

(b.) 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!


(5.) As women, we are always trying to be sympathetic. STOP IT! It may get you raped or killed.

(a.) Serial killer Ted Bundy 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.

(b.) Predators are adept at what they do. Say there's a man in a parking lot who says he's handicapped and needs help getting

in or out of his car. THIS IS OFTEN A TRAP. See if there isn't a policeman or security person who can help. Or, walk away. Better to feel callous than to feel stupid, terrified and dead.


(6.) Tips to save your life if you have gotten into a violent situation:Duct tape art by Mona Superhero

(a.) REACT IMMEDIATELY. If he abducts you in the 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 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 don't act.)

(b.) RESIST. Don't go along with him. Run if you are able. DON'T EVER GIVE UP! You DO NOT want to get to the crime scene.

(c.) If you are ever thrown into the trunk of a car, kick out the taillights and stick your arm out the hole and start waving like crazy. The driver won't see you but everybody else will. This has saved lives.


(7.) Always keep your distance when walking past strangers on the street or in dark areas.




(9.) BREAK DOWNS: Make every effort to avoid this by ALWAYS keeping your car in good order.

(a.) If your car breaks down: LOCK YOUR DOORS. You better have a cell phone so you can call for help.

(b.) If you don't have a cell phone (shame on you), keep a blanket, warm jacket, a pair of boots and a flashlight in your car.

(c.) If it's noon on a business day, you may want to put your hazards on and walk to safety.

(d.) If it's 2AM, 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 highway for easy targets like you.

(e.) If you're on a desolate road, walk away from your car (in your warm clothes) and go to some bushes or an area AWAY from your vehicles. It will be cold and uncomfortable but you DO NOT want to stay in your car, and there are no psycho bogeymen waiting in the bushes who knew you were going to break down then and there.


(10.) Physical defenses that can be used against a violent predator:

(a.) The elbow is the strongest point on your body. If you are close enough to use it, do!

(b.) The EYES are the most vulnerable part of the body. Poke him there HARD. It may be your only window of opportunity.

(c.) The neck is also a vulnerable spot, but you MUST know where to grip AND HAVE THE STRENGTH to cut off his breath.

(d.) The last place is the KNEES. Everyone's knees are very vulnerable, and a swift kick there will take anyone down.

*****A cautionary note about these things. If you do not do these things right the first time, you are in trouble because it will only anger the individual, and that anger will be TAKEN OUT ON YOU. Be forceful. Think KILL BILL.


(11.) If you are walking alone in the dark (which you shouldn't be) and you find you are being followed or chased:

(a.) Scream "FIRE!" and not "help." People don't want to get involved when people yell "help," but "fire" draws attention because people are nosy.

(b.) RUN!

(c.) Find an obstacle, such as a parked car, and run around it like ring-around-the-rosey. This may sound silly, but it has SAVED LIVES.

(d.) 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 most likely not come under after you. 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. Then practice.


(12.) Never let yourself or anyone that you know be a "closer" in any type of business (bar, store, restaurant, gas station). [This is unrealistic for many people, but I know a girl who was abducted from her closing shift at a gas station and she's still gone. They

think they found some of her teeth, though. Another friend of mine was jumped as she was leaving her shift at an Old Town bar. Someone had actually messed with her car so it wouldn't start. She screamed and got lucky. ALWAYS ALWAYS get someone you trust to walk you to your car, and see that it starts. --ed.]

Women die EVERY MINUTE from violent crimes. They expected to go to bed tonight and get up tomorrow. No one expects it, but we must be prepared and aware so that we HAVE A PLAN. BE PREPARED TO ACT! ACT HARD! HAVE A PLAN!


(Props to the guy who gave this seminar and the gal who wrote the email. By the time this info trickled down to me they were anonymous cyber people. Hopefully they will not sue us for using their riveting writing uncredited. --ed.)





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