3 A.M. Wake Up
When I was 16 years old, I woke up at 3 a.m. to a stranger taking my cousin away into another room at knife point. It took me a minute to process the shiny object that was pressing against her neck and the cries of terror coming from my big sister, who was already tied up in the other room. In complete shock and confusion, I just stared at him. He looked back at me and he said, “go back to sleep”. Compliant and terrified, I laid back down and pretended to go back to sleep as he continued to drag my cousin out of the room.
For a moment, I thought to myself “I CAN’T MOVE” and I’m going to lay here and wait for him to return to get me. What else could I do? I was 16 years old, had no way to defend myself and the people I love were already in the hands of a monster. In those few minutes, that seemed like an eternity, I began to pray.
The Silent Hero
Words can’t describe the terror you feel, when a stranger has invaded the sanctuary of your home with the intent of inflicting harm on you. In the quiet of the night, I could hear my dear sister pleading for MY life. She selflessly offered herself in my place and begged him not to harm me. She was 20 years old at the time.
My sister, was sleeping on the bed closest to the bedroom door and so, he took her first. “Scream and I will kill them”, he said to her. She stayed completely quiet as he brutally raped and tormented her, hoping that her silence would save the rest of us. He promised her he would leave us alone, if she complied. Of course, he lied.
A Monster In My Room
Make no mistake, evil people exist. Evil people hunt other people and as a hunter myself, that is the creepiest thing imaginable. The man that broke into our apartment that night was a serial rapist whose crime spree was escalating to murder. After stabbing his prior victim, which to his misfortune survived; I believe he was on a mission to fulfill his darkest desires. This man stalked us for 2 weeks prior to the attack. He knew our routine, who would be at home and what time we went to sleep. He was hunting women.
Ladies and gentlemen, there are people out there hunting you. They are armed and dangerous and don’t care about your life. What are you going to do about it?
When defeat sets in, lives can be lost. As I laid there in the seconds before he came to get me, I began to reflect on my short life and how tragically it was about to end. I was giving up when I heard a voice say . . . “RUN”. It sounded like a loud pop followed by a burst of energy, surging through my body that demanded action. In an instant, I bolted out of the nearest sliding glass door and ran faster than I ever have in my entire life.
The voice that I heard that night saved our lives; because as soon as I ran away the attack stopped and the perpetrator left. I often wonder if I heard the voice of an angel or if it was just the pure sheer will within me to live telling me to fight.
Fight OR Flight
The fight-or-flight response (also called hyperarousal, or the acute stress response) is a physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival. It was first described by Walter Bradford Cannon. His theory states that animals react to threats with a general discharge of the sympathetic nervous system, preparing the animal for fighting or fleeing.
Since every situation is different, the key is to have a plan and be prepared. Until you’re there, you can’t understand how fear can paralyze you. Therefore, you have to spend a lot of time mentally preparing yourself for something that hopefully will never happen. Some people call the fear of “what if” paranoia but I like to call it “situational awareness”.
Hindsight IS 20/20
In the years since the attack, I have had countless sleepless nights to think about what if. While running away saved my life that night, next time I may not be so lucky. A gun could not have prevented a rapist from breaking into our home but it would have put an immediate stop to his crime spree. For when an intruder flees from your home, he is also free to continue harming others.
In conclusion, a firearm alone can’t prevent an evil act from materializing against you. However, together with situational awareness, proper security measures, and mental preparedness you will be able to make split second decisions that can save your life in any situation.
The incident I survived shaped me into the person I am today. Personally, I carry a gun anywhere I can legally carry (with my concealed handgun permit). I regularly shoot firearms because a gun won’t save you if you don’t use it properly. Daily, I practice situational awareness by familiarizing myself with exits, being aware of my surroundings and keeping a look out for anything suspicious. At home, I have an alarm and two dogs to alert me to outside activity when I’m asleep. I have a trauma kit in my purse, car and home. As a survivor of a crime, I choose not to live my life in fear but to live my life prepared.
Be vigilant, be armed, be prepared.