Monday, February 28, 2011

Attack of Massachusetts woman stirs up personal safety concerns

Police in Chelsea, Massachusetts, are feverishly searching for a suspectcharged with brutally beating a woman. The victim was attacked and left for dead. Authorities were called after neighbors heard her cries for help in the early morning hours, Fox affiliate WFXT reports.

The attack is believed to have taken place a little before 2 a.m., and police have said that the 24-year-old victim sustained significant life-threatening injuries and remained in the hospital a day after the assault. There were not many witnesses available to provide details, except for one man who claims to have witnessed almost the entire thing.

The man, who lives near where the attack took place, told the news source that he and his parents saw a man pull what appeared to be a pipe or crow bar from his vehicle and repeatedly strike the victim. After seeing the incident take place, the man called police, but the suspect fled the scene before police arrived. Investigators are hoping that any other witnesses will come forward so they can collect as much information on the suspect as possible.

A recent survey conducted by the Justice Department in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that there are a surprising amount of similar incidents across the country. The study found that approximately 1.9 women are victims of assault each year in the United States. Additionally, about 15 to 25 percent of American women report a sexual assault at some point in their lives.

Despite the threat, there are a number of effective personal safety tips that can help lower one's risk of being the victim of a similar attack. For starters, safety experts from the National Crime Prevention Council say that the most effective way to stay safe is to avoid having to walk alone late at night. Similarly, individuals should make sure they park in well-lit areas that are visible to other people, stores and walkways.

Furthermore, staying alert can prove to be effective as well. Many professionals suggest removing headphones and getting off the phone to ensure that one is aware of his or her surroundings as much as possible. As a final precaution, making eye contact with any suspicious people is suggested, as it can deter them from targeting a person.

For those seeking an added boost to their personal safety, pepper spray has proven to be an effective choice. When used correctly, the device can make it difficult for an attacker to see and breathe, which will allow a potential victim to get to safety. However, those who decide to buy pepper spray should be familiar with how and when to use it.

"I don't care if you carry an ink pen, pepper spray, Taser or bazooka, you have to get the muscle memory down," safety expert Steve Kardian told East County Magazine. "You must practice."

Along with being able to practice, those who buy pepper spray should take several other facts into consideration as well. Firstly, consumers should check the expiration date on the bottle - most devices last between 2 and 3 years. In addition, the spray should be kept in an easy-to- reach location, such as a keychain, so that it can be used quickly if the need ever arises. As a final step, experts recommend checking the local pepper spray laws. 

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