Protect Yourself: Opinions by Katie Ogden

September 27, 2018

     Molly Tibbetts and Celia Barquin Arozamena: their names are on the news and in our heads, but who are they, and what can we learn from their stories?

     Molly Tibbetts was a 20-year-old psychology major at Iowa University. On July 18th, she Snapchatted her boyfriend before going on a jog– the last time she would communicate with anyone. While on her run, she was abducted and stabbed to death. On August 24th, her killer confessed and lead police to her body in a cornfield.

     Celia Barquin Arozamena was a 22-year-old engineering major and collegiate golfer at Iowa State University. She won the prestigious Big 12 golfing award and was recognized as one of the university’s top athletes. On top of this, she was from Spain and her family was planning to come visit her during an upcoming competition. On September 17th, Celia was practicing golf alone on a course in Ames when she was stabbed to death by a man living in the woods nearby. Her body was found in a pond by the 9th hole.

     Although these are isolated incidences, they have many commonalities. Both Mollie and Celia were alone. Both were exercising. Each girl was stabbed to death, picked at random by their attackers. Neither of them deserved what happened to them– no one deserves to be victimized. What can we, as young women, do to protect ourselves from potential assailants?

     One of the biggest ways to ward off predators is utilizing safety in numbers. Go out in groups of two to eight– any larger and it becomes difficult to keep track of everyone. Make sure one or two people who aren’t with your group know where you plan to be and when to expect you back home. Send messages to those people when you go somewhere else or when your plans change so your last known time/place is trackable if you get abducted. This could save your life; say you leave the mall to head downtown and you’re kidnapped in Des Moines. Police can find you faster and with more success the more they know about your last location and the sooner your absence is reported.

     A common misconception about personal safety is that holding keys between your fingers like claws is an effective way to keep unfriendly people from attempting to assault you. While it is a good tactic if you absolutely have to fight, it is better to weaponize larger objects such as umbrellas, hydroflasks, or even sticks. Pepper spray is good, but dyed pepper spray is better. Some stores offer sprays with blue dye to make identification of the perpetrator easier.

     If, in the worst case scenario, you find yourself in a struggle with no weapons involved, there are a few tips to remember. Some of the weaker points on the body are the eyes, nose, throat, insoles, and groin. The best parts of your body to use in combat are the elbows, chin, nails, teeth, knees, and voice. If you are ever attacked, the best piece of advice you can have is to scream as loud and as much as you can. Fight and scream, and attackers will often decide you are not worth their trouble.

Other quick tips:

-If you can, pee yourself during a fight. Often, they will be disgusted and get away from you.

-Avoid poorly lit or empty streets if possible.

-Be okay with leaving objects behind to escape someone. If an attacker grabs your bookbag, let it fall to get away. Everything you own is replaceable; your life is not.

-Keep your doors locked while driving.

-Don’t sit in your car in parking lots. Get in, immediately lock the doors, drive, get out.

-Scratch everything. Tear at your attacker’s clothing if you can.


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