BREMERTON — The two young women who were attacked a few weeks ago in Stephenson Canyon did everything right, said the Kitsap County Sheriff’s detective in charge of sexual offender investigations.
“They were absolutely correct to fight back,” Detective Ken Smith said. “If you fight, you may very well avoid the attack. But if you don’t fight back, you’re guaranteed to be a victim.”
There are a number of simple things people can do to increase the odds of either deterring a sexual attack before it begins or stopping it short:
— Be vigilant. Always be aware of your surroundings. If nothing else, if you notice someone coming toward you from some distance away, it might buy you the time to take defensive action.
— Don’t walk alone. Pair up with a friend if you can (or bring your dog — see below).
— Carry pepper spray. Getting hit in the eyes with this substance will stop most people cold.
— Bring your cell phone. And have it readily accessible. 911 is your friend.
— Let someone know where you are going and approximately when you expect to be back.
— If you have a dog, bring it along. “Many predators will be put off by an animal that may turn out to be aggressive,” Smith said.
— Scream your head off. Make as much noise as you can — but be specific about what sort of assistance you need. “Help, help” is not going to be as readily responded to as “Help me, I’m being attacked.” What the predator wants least of all is more people on the scene.
— If you are dressed in business attire, one of your most potent weapons may be on your feet. For women in high heels, coming down hard with a heel on an attacker’s instep delivers a shot of pain that will dissuade most people.
If it seems like this list is geared toward women, that’s because it is. The vast majority of sexual assault victimes are female, but most of these points apply to anyone who’s out and about in remote circumstances.