A dozen Fairfax County women turned out, Saturday, for a half-day self-defense class at an elementary school in Springfield. It's the same neighborhood where, for months, a man has been groping female victims, then running off. Police know of 23 incidents, and despite intensive patrolling, the use of decoys, and widespread dissemination of a suspect description, the fondler remains on the loose.
So these women have decided to become more responsible for their own defense. In the classroom part of the program, the women were told: if you can avoid a fight with an assailant, then avoid the fight. One of the participants (who preferred not to be identified) explained: "First of all, you give them whatever they want. If they're after your pocketbook, you give them the pocketbook. The very first thing that you don't ever want to do is: have a confrontation with [the assailant]."
But, in the case of the groper, the female victims are almost always surprised from behind. Retired police officer Frank Cresswell, who founded C&J Security Corporation, told the class: women walking alone should be observant and ready to react to potential danger. Asked what a suspicious woman could do, Cresswell responded: "OK, do you change sides of the street? Do you step over the side, let them [pass]? Do you have your cell phone there? Is this the time to assert yourself? Cause a lot of women get in trouble -- I'll be honest -- they don't want to get embarrassed. How about, 'Hey, I don't know you. Stay back! LADY, I'M JUST WALKING.... OK, then, just go.' What's the worst that happened there? They just, you know, kind of upset some guy. But they're safe. They've got their distance. They're using their voice, they had a plan, they had a strategy. And they're not just an innocent victim walking down the street."
If the groper does grab from the rear, the students in the class were taught to sharply throw an elbow.
Another piece of general security advice from Frank Cresswell: don't put your home address in your GPS unit. If the car is stolen (or the device is stolen), do you really want the bad guys to know exactly where you live? Program in as "home" an intersection a block or two away. Cresswell says: you'll know the rest of the way home.
WTTG FOX 5 & myfoxdc
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