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He was a walking felony factory, already a convicted felon now on supervised parole, with a car in need of a jump.

She had just spent the last half hour in the parking lot of a local superstore trying to help this stranger get his disabled car started and has now innocently agreed to give him a ride to a “friend’s” house, a short distance away.

But, instead of stepping out of the Good Samaritan’s car with a polite, “Thank you,” or an offer to compensate her for her time and energy, he unbuckles his seatbelt, lunges across the seat at her, putting her in a chokehold with one hand while groping her leg and breasts with the other. She fought like a wildcat, released her seatbelt and opened her door in an effort to get away. But both of them fell out of the car onto the pavement as he continued to choke her, repeatedly body-slamming her to the ground and telling her he was going to kill her. She escaped from him briefly, only to be tackled and thrown down a small embankment where he continued to choke and fondle her until he was interrupted by the headlights of a car in a nearby parking lot. He then released her and ran back to her car and drove away. Police found her car back at the superstore parking lot. Her purse along with her car and house keys, were missing. So was the attacker’s previously disabled car.

Predator’s Attack
This is a true story. Unfortunately, it is also a brutal, haunting reminder that there are predators walking among us who seem to relish the power and torment they can exercise over other people. What I find so disturbing about this incident is the half-hour or so this felon spent baiting his prey and cultivating her trust. Worse yet, what did he do to his car that it wouldn’t start when she tried to help him jumpstart it but somehow it miraculously did start when he returned to it during his escape? 

The questions that arise from this incident are endless. So are the possible alternative outcomes. And it’s not just women that find themselves the victims of this kind of “sucker punch” attack either. Men can and do fall prey to these predators as well. An attacker can be looking for drug money, or to steal a car, or any number of reasons that will only make sense to himself. He may just do it for the thrill of it. Or to brag to his buddies.  

Staying Safe
So, how does a person stay safe when they are just trying to help a stranger or not, in need? We can’t tell all the Good Samaritans in the world to not stop and help someone in need. Simple human kindness is what keeps the world turning. It’s those simple acts that make life so much more enjoyable, or at least tolerable, both as an actor and as a recipient. And I’m not trying to criticize what this woman did or find fault in how she handled the situation. I’m sure she is asking the same questions in hindsight that we are asking now from our “objective and uninvolved” point of view. 

Since there are obviously no real guarantees even if you refuse to stop and help, the best you can hope to do is reduce the chances of an attack like this. Always be “politely on guard.” Any cop knows this technique well. You have to be willing to offend someone without being offensive. 

Example #1
You stop to help a stranger and shortly after you arrive, you make a phone call to a friend or loved one (within earshot of the person you are trying to help), and let them know what you are doing, where you are and give the license number of the person’s vehicle. Even if you only leave a message. The person you are helping will probably be offended, no matter whether their intentions are good or not. Hopefully they’ll understand why you did that. But that is not your concern. Your concern is being able to go home safely when you are done. 

Example #2
Let’s say you stop to help someone change a tire or jumpstart their car. The first time they leave your line of sight or their hands are doing something that you can’t see, you stand and face them directly and say something to the effect of, “Please forgive me, but I’m a little spooked. We live in a society where we don’t always know who we are dealing with and I don’t know you. Please keep your hands where I can see them and stay in my line of sight. I am happy to help you in any way I can but I plan to go home to my family tonight.” If they are irreparably offended by your request, walk away. Hopefully, if they have no ill intentions, they will understand and comply even if they are offended. But, if their intentions are even the slightest bit questionable, now they are off balance and on notice that you will not be a victim. 

Example #3
If you have taken all the precautions that you can think of, and still find yourself under attack, a little extra precaution and preparation can still help keep you safe. With at least a basic knowledge of a good street-fighting martial arts you can dramatically increase your chances of going home safe. In a vehicle, a knife, a pistol, a can of pepper spray or taser tucked discreetly under your left leg can keep it in easy reach to turn the tide of an attack. Even an average, everyday writing pen driven virtually anywhere into the face and neck area of an attacker will do wonders to either convince, or force them to break off the attack. 

There are no guarantees. But there are ways to reduce the risks. Be safe out there. The world needs more Good Samaritans around.

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