By JEAN HAVENS
For a woman unaware of her surroundings, a quick trip to the grocery store could turn deadly.
During a program on personal safety and awareness at Northeastern State University, Lori Fullbright, KOTV anchor and crime reporter, stressed the importance of keen awareness, trusting instincts, and curtailing courtesy when being asked for directions.
Sponsored by Sweet Power in conjunction with NSU Violence Prevention, Division of Student Affairs, Fullbright and Patti Buhl, NSU director of public safety, talked about ways for women to stay safe and, if necessary, escape from a criminal.
“Crime happens everywhere and anytime,” Fullbright said. “There’s no such thing as a good part of town or a good part of the day anymore. More crimes are happening in the daytime than at night.”
Fullbright, who has interviewed victims of crime as well as criminals, advised the audience to practice describing people.
“You might be the only person who could save someone’s life by giving a good description,” she said.
According to Fullbright, criminals know when the public gets smart about something, and they change their habits. Grocery stores and grocery store parking lots are two of the most dangerous places to be.
“Always look over your shoulder,” Fullbright said. “The criminal is waiting for you to not be looking over your shoulder.”
Fullbright said keys and a phone should be kept on the woman, not in her purse. This is so she can get into her car and be able to call 911 if a crime happens.
The purse should go into the car before the groceries, according to the reporter, because the criminal wants the purse, not the groceries.
Asking for directions is the most common ploy criminals make before they attack.
Fullbright said she knows Oklahomans are typically “nice,” but it doesn’t pay to be that way in these cases.
“Be suspicious. When someone says to you, ‘I need your help,’ stop and think how can I help them and stay safe? If someone asks for directions, don’t stop walking,” said Fullbright. “Just say ‘I can’t help you.’”
Fullbright believes instinct is key to survival in a crime situation.
“Trust your instincts,” she said.
“If a situation feels wrong, be smart. Get someone to walk you to your car. Or go back to the store and say something to the manager. If a gun is pointed in your face and you’re asked to give up something, give the criminal what they want.”
Fullbright said if a gun is pointed at you and the holder wants you to go with them, don’t go.
“If they get you in that car, you’re dead,” said Fullbright. “Do whatever you can to not get in that car. Criminals want it quick and quiet. Do what’s unexpected and make a scene. Make it long and loud.”
For safe measures while at home, Fullbright said it’s not a good idea to ignore a knock at the door.
“If someone you don’t know knocks on your door, don’t answer it, but don’t pretend you’re not at home,” she said. “Leave the door closed and locked. Create the appearance that you’re not alone. And make noise so criminals know someone is at home.”
Fullbright said a common crime is the “knock and kick.” This is where a criminal knocks on the door, and if he thinks no one is at home, he kicks the door open so he can burglarize the place.
If you are at home when someone breaks in, get out of the house. Fullbright said if leaving is not an option, look around to see what you can use to protect yourself.
“And I don’t mean a gun,” said Fullbright.
“You have things around your house that can be used as a weapon. The goal, if you encounter a criminal, is to survive.”
Buhl gave the audience tips for escaping an attacker, as well as a description of her Rape Aggression Defense course offered to the public.
Buhl, also the Oklahoma director of RAD, said this course is designed to be simple because of the need for a quick response during an attack situation.
“The RAD course is not a pass-or-fail course,” Buhl said. “We teach the four R’s.”
• Risk awareness, or training to be aware of your surroundings to avoid getting into attack situations.
• Risk reduction, or training how to reduce the threat of an attack.
• Risk recognition, or training on how to recognize someone as a potential threat,
• Risk avoidance, or training how to avoid situations that can put you at risk.
“Ninety percent of self-defense is the four Rs,” said Buhl. “Ten percent of the course is actual self-defense training. It’s a hands-on course.”
Buhl said RAD gives people the tools they need to buy time so they can get away from attackers.
“We also teach verbalization,” Buhl said. “[There’s a] difference between screaming and yelling. One is more effective than the other.”
NSU offers RAD courses to the general public for $25 per person, according to Buhl. More information can be found on the NSU public safety website at http://tinyurl .com/9yy5paz