Fight or flight? Would you know what to do if you were suddenly the victim of a mugging?
Editor’s note: The following recounts one woman’s experience being mugged in Oak Lawn. Her suggestions are not necessarily endorsed by Dallas Voice.
Ok, so it’s Friday night, October 13 yes, you read that right, last Friday night, Oct. 13.
My girlfriend and I had attended the monument dedication at the Oak Lawn Triangle and had finished dinner at The Green Papaya. We were walking back to our car which was on the other side of the Walgreen’s parking lot. Right about the time we were 12 feet from the front door of Walgreen’s, SLAM! Someone ran into my left side and grabbed for my wallet as he was running by.
I knew the instant it happened that I was being mugged.
As a counselor, I know all about the “Fight or Flight” theory. But in the 40 years that I’ve lived, I’ve never had to actually put that theory to the test until now.
I’d love to tell you that, as a counselor, I weighed all of the options, looked the kid over, guessed whether or not I could “take him,” checked to see if he had a weapon, tried talking him out of it and then made a logical, safe decision on what to do.
That would be nice and probably something that a counselor would do. However, what really happened was nothing like that.
The young man dropped my wallet as he was grabbing it, and to his own misfortune, turned back and bent over, towards me, to pick it up off of the ground. In that instant I stepped on his hand as he was grabbing my wallet and then literally bulldogged him with my left hand and started choking him with my right hand and we went to the pavement.
He finally pulled away without my wallet and left.
In the week since, I’ve thought about my actions a lot and trust me, my girlfriend has wavered between being proud of me and chastising me. I’ve wondered why I fought back. Why I didn’t just let him have the wallet? What are you supposed to do when it happens to you?
I’d love to give you all of the statistics and tell you exactly what to do based on what the experts say. But the truth is that even the experts are divided on the subject.
Many experts say, “If you are being mugged, then it’s better to give the mugger what he/she wants. Your life is worth more than the cash in your pocket.”
Other experts say, “People who have at least attempted to fight back bear fewer psychological scars than those who have not tried to defend themselves.”
Fight or Flight? The truth is, in that very moment when it is happening; you may do the exact opposite of what you would have expected of yourself.
I’d love to give you the safety tips as well. But the truth is, we’ve heard all of the safety tips ad nauseaum and we always follow them right?
The number one, cardinal tip, top of the list of all of the experts’ rule number one is “Be aware of your surroundings.” Witnesses to my mugging said that the guys following us were so close to us that they thought they were with us and we never even heard them or saw them.
Okay. Clear the chill bumps off of your arms. Here are some additional tips I think might be useful to others who get caught in the same situation.
Tip 1: Know that if you are on private property i.e. in a business parking lot they have policies and procedures in place that may appear as though they aren’t doing anything. At Walgreen’s, the employees are instructed to not leave the store if something is going on outside. I was thinking that they weren’t coming to my aide and the truth is that they had already called 911; they just aren’t allowed to leave the store and/or get involved.
Stores also have policies about whether or not the victim can view the surveillance tapes. Many won’t allow you to view the tapes without the police department’s approval or their corporate headquarters’ approval.
Tip 2: I’d have to say that I am disappointed at the witnesses who did nothing. Many just stood and watched and speculated that the disturbance was a lover’s quarrel. There is one thing that you can do without getting involved use your camera/video phones. Capture what you can on your phone so that it can be used to help describe the attacker.
Tip 3: If you decide to fight back, give it all you’ve got. Get mad and dig deep. If you’re in public place, yell. Get the attention of the people around you. Let them know you’re being mugged.
All I was yelling was several very choice words, none of which are suitable for print. Because I wasn’t yelling, “I’m being robbed,” people thought that I was in the middle of a domestic dispute.
Tip 4: This one is really for the mugger. Who would be so stupid as to mug someone in a crowded area, at a public event, next to three running spotlights, in a parking lot with a surveillance camera and on top of that, pick a butch lesbian?
Fight or Flight? I fought. Hear this lesbian roar.
Brenda Lee Roberts is a licensed professional counselor and real estate agent in Dallas.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, October 20, 2006.