What To Do When You’re Attacked


Thanks to Lt. David Swords for passing along these things to do in emergency situations. It never hurts to be careful in this crazy world we live in.

1. Tip from Tae Kwon Do:
The elbow is the strongest point on your body. If you are close enough to use it, do!

2. If a robber asks for your wallet and/or purse, DO NOT HAND IT TO HIM. Toss it away from you. Chances are that he is more interested in your wallet and/or purse than you, and he will go for the wallet/purse.


3. If you are ever thrown into the trunk of a car, kick out the back tail lights 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.

4. Some people have a tendency to get into their cars after shopping, eating, working, etc., and just sit – doing their checkbook, or making a list, etc.

DON’T DO THIS! The predator will be watching you, and this is the perfect opportunity for him to get in on the passenger side, put a gun to your head, and tell you where to go.



If someone is in the car with a gun to your head DO NOT DRIVE OFF,


Instead gun the engine and speed into anything, wrecking the car. Your Air Bag will save you.
If the person is in the back seat they will get the worst of it. As soon as the car crashes
bail out and run. It is better than having them find your body in a remote location.

5. A few notes about getting into your car in a parking lot, or parking garage:

A. Be aware:
Look around you, look into your car at the passenger side floor and in the back seat.

B. If you are parked next to a big van, enter your car from the passenger door. Many killers and rapists attack their victims by pulling them into their vans while the women 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, or work, and get a guard or police officer to walk you back out. IT IS ALWAYS BETTER TO BE SAFE THAN SORRY. (And better paranoid than dead.)

6. ALWAYS take the elevator instead of the stairs. Stairwells are horrible places to be alone and the perfect crime spot. This is especially true at NIGHT!

7. If the predator has a gun and you are not under his control, ALWAYS RUN!
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. So RUN!  Preferably in a zig-zag pattern!

8. Some people are sympathetic to strangers.

STOP it!

It may get you raped, or killed. Ted Bundy, the serial killer, 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.

9. Another Safety Point:
Someone heard a crying baby on her porch so she called the police because it was late and she thought it was weird. Criminals have often used ploys such as a baby crying, pretending to be injured in automobile accidents, sounds of hurt animals, etc., to lure their victims outside.

Whatever you do, DO NOT open the door. You never know what, or who, is on the other side. Call the police! They’ll have a unit on the way ASAP.

*When I was fact checking the information for this blog I ran across a Snopes article that debunked the serial killer/baby crying thing. I accidentally posted the Snopes article instead of the information we’d intended (I put this together last night at 2am). I’ve made the change above. However, criminals have been known to use all sorts of tricks to lure people outside their homes. Please be safe and smart. Always know who, or what is outside your door before you open it.

10. Water scam!
If you wake up in the middle of the night to hear all your taps outside running or what you think is a burst pipe, DO NOT GO OUT TO INVESTIGATE! Criminals may have turned on all your outside taps so that you will go out to investigate. The moment you go outside they attack. Call the police and ask them to check the area for you.

Stay alert, keep safe, and look out for your neighbors!

*     *     *

News briefs:

– The winner of Terry Odell’s contest was Frances from Pensacola. I certainly hope you enjoy your prize – a shiny new copy of Police Procedure and Investigation. Thanks to Terry for hosting the contest.

– I’ll be presenting several workshops at Killer Nashville on August 14-16. My friend J.A. Jance is this year’s guest of honor. I hope to see you there. It’s going to be a hoot!

Killer Nashville press release.

19 replies
  1. Joyce Tremel
    Joyce Tremel says:

    Sorry–I’m a day late, but great tips, Dave!

    One of the Lts. where I used to work referred to the state that most people are in as HUYAS–head up your ass syndrome.

    One of the things that I learned in taekwondo was that it only takes 7 pounds of pressure to break a bone. An elbow to the face (like you recommended), or stomping your heel down on the attacker’s instep would easily break something.

    Or just go for the groin like Elena.

  2. D. Swords
    D. Swords says:

    Hi, Mary.

    I don’t know if you’ll see this reply, since it is “the morning after,” but here goes.

    I believe officials discovered the train texting thing following a fatal train accident in the last couple of months. At least that is the allegation. More to come on that, I am sure.

    As to constant condition yellow? You don’t even think about it. It’s just the way you become.

  3. Earth2Mary
    Earth2Mary says:

    Hi D. Swords, thanks for your reply!

    It’s very true that people get extremely lost in their surroundings. I brought up texting because I’ve seen so many people with their thumbs to a keypad, but I hadn’t heard that anyone had been operating a train while texting–Wow. Did that happen recently?? At least with talking on a cell, people have vision (even if they don’t seem to use it). When I went on a ride-along, the officer became quite animated when he told me a story about a girl he pulled over for texting/inattentive driving. He let her go, if I remember right, with only a warning. As soon as she pulled away, she was on her cell phone, so he pulled her right back over and gave her a ticket.

    That’s interesting about the conditions–I’ve never thought about it that way before. I knew cops stayed alert pretty much 24/7, but I thought that was just a state of mind adopted from long hours on duty. Does it ever get annoying to be constantly on alert, or have you gotten used to it?

    Haha!! That would make a good plot twist. A funny Tweet, too: “LOL my sergeant sent me on a stakeout. suspect hasn’t arrived 😛 bored. plz send food.”

  4. D. Swords
    D. Swords says:

    Hi Mary,

    You asked about people lost in texting. By that I assume you mean people who are unaware of their surroundings.

    Texting can be a problem, especially when driving or operating a commuter train, which we have recently seen stories of in the news. But it’s not just texting, it is any one of the many things with which we allow ourselves to be distracted in day to day life. The first rule of keeping yourself safe is to be aware of your surroundings.

    When I went through the police academy (ya’ know, back when we took our flintlock muskets to the range :),) we were taught that people stay in one of three states of mind or conditions. Condition Red – combat (fight or flight, adrenalin into the blood, so forth) Conition Yellow – you’re aware of some danger and on the alert. Condition Green – The state of mind of most people most of the time – You have your head in the clouds, or more appopriately, up you a#&, and have no idea what goes on around you.

    We were taught to stay in a constant state of condition yellow. Aware at all times. It sounds a little paranoid, perhaps a bit stressful, but that’s the way most police officers live, all the time. That’s why, to this day, I don’t sit with my back to a door, or a crowd of people. I’ve tried it, and I get very nervous.

    I’ll bet you Lee is the same way.

    Anyone should be aware of their surroundings. So should any police officer or detective in an any story you write. There is a potential plot twist. Back up officer has a killing suspect run right past him because he’s tweeting his girlfriend? Hmm.

  5. JonathanQuist
    JonathanQuist says:

    The running water lure is one of many good reasons to know where the water shut-off valves are in your home, and ensure they are kept in good repair. Whether you have separate valves for outside faucets, or just a single main shut-off, you can stop the water flow and investigate in daylight the next day.

    Of course, if you are sure somebody turned the faucets on deliberately, it would not hurt to call the police. Even if it’s just pranksters, having an obvious police response in the neighborhood can only be a good thing.

    The other reasons for knowing where your shut-off valves are involve the money saved on water-damage repairs.


  6. SZ
    SZ says:

    Another tip going around is that you get in your car and what looks like a ticket or even a flyer on windsheld. Dont get out to get it until you are in a safe spot.

    Thank you Lt Swords. I had heard the baby one, not the water one, which would fool many I am sure.

  7. Earth2Mary
    Earth2Mary says:

    Elena – LOL.

    And to clarify on my last comment: Eye contact is meant for warding off suspects, not defending yourself in an attack unless, of course, your name is Scott Summers and you have radioactive laserbeams for pupils.

  8. Earth2Mary
    Earth2Mary says:

    Thank you very much, Lee and D Swords. This is exactly the kind of thing I’ve been looking into lately and I find this very helpful. “Tough Target” by Detective J.J. Bittenbinder also has a lot of good instruction. He says that eye contact is very important, especially for women. Most women look away if a man makes direct eye contact, and that’s not a good move.

    He had one story about an old woman, by herself and at a bus stop, who was approached by a big man. She scared him away, just by asking “Don’t I know your mother?”

    Lee and D Swords, I’d be interested to know your opinions on people who get lost in the world of texting 🙂

    Thanks again!!

  9. D. Swords
    D. Swords says:

    Hi, Elena.

    About 2 months ago, at the local Elderly United, a community organization for elderly, someone gave a self defense course for the elderly utilizing a cane as a defensive weapon.

    I thought that was pretty innovative, not to mention cool.

    Nothin’ I’d like to see more than a young thug dropped to his knees by a cane weilding great grandma with more than a little fire left in her spirit.

  10. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Beth – Even I lock my doors. That’s a lot safer and easier than fighting.

    By the way, J.A. Jance is a wonderful person and a good friend. In fact, without her my book on police procedure may not have ever been written or published.

  11. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Elena – I used to teach a self-defense class for woman at the gym and martial arts school we used to own. I also taught similar classes as part of orientation at a few colleges in Virginia.

    You know, I’m beginning to realize why my joints are starting to hurt so badly. It’s not age, it’s all those years of teaching defensive tactics and martial arts classes. Ouch…

  12. BethAnderson
    BethAnderson says:

    Forgot to add that I had thought of going to Killer Nashville. Rats. Just read the newest Jance and Lee is always informative and funny!

  13. BethAnderson
    BethAnderson says:

    These are great things to hear. I receive these tips in emails all the time and can’t read them enough. Here in the Albany, NY area many of us learned to look into our cars in parking lots back in the 70’s after Lemuel Smith attacked and killed a woman at a shopping center. My friends have always teased me about it, that and the fact the first thing I do when I get in the car is to lock all the doors. Hey, it makes me feel better.

  14. Elena
    Elena says:

    Most excellent comments and at the same time a sad commentary. I find as I get older and not able to run, carrying a cane is very handy. Fortunately I’ve only had to use it to remind men of their manners. But I figure if an older woman is a “funny” target for tripping today, it will escalate tomorrow. So take care of it today. The officer agreed with me after she stopped laughing.

    And if I may add a thought – consider taking a self-defense class for women. Most women freeze if a man invades her personal space – a class like this can help you learn to respond in spite of someone too close to you.

  15. D. Swords
    D. Swords says:

    Good morning, everyone.

    I wanted to add something in reference #7 – running from an armed abductor.

    You should also scream and yell and make as much noise as possible, and hopefully, there will be someone you can run toward. The crook will not like the attention brought to the situation and in all likelihood, may run in the opposite direction.

    I once heard Clint Van Zandt (a past contributor to this blog) say that the main reason you want to run is because an abductor usually has no intention of letting you go, regardless of what he has told you. NEVER let someone take you from the place where you are.

    Running from an armed gunmen seems to make little sense, especially if you can run no faster than my joint jarring pace. I would think a left-handed blind monkey with a BB gun could take me out in 10 paces, but don’t worry about that. Just take off. Adrenalin will do the rest.

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