I was robbed at gunpoint. It was 2 a.m. on Sept. 16, and I was staring down the barrel of a gun.
It was all a blur. The scene, the robbers, even the place I called home felt unfamiliar. It was as if everything I considered to be routine was altered and became unusually suspicious.
Many people often find themselves having the “Oh, that could never happen to me” syndrome. They become prey for thieves and criminals. Protecting yourself should always be your first priority especially nowwhen living on your own.
“Robberies tend to take place either dawn, dusk or the nighttime because they (criminals) can hide behind bushes or buildings and people are more apt to not see them,” said public information officer Dave Northway of the Tallahassee Police Department.
As an officer, Northway is knowledgeable when it comes to criminal cases. He knows that criminals are lazy in nature and initially go for the easiest targets.
“It’s the things that are simple that keep you safe,” Northway said. “That means that if you are by yourself reading your text messages or have headphones on and not paying attention to your surroundings, you’re going to be an easy target.”
Walking in large groups, paying attention to surroundings and traveling in well-lit areas are good ways to become a harder target, on or off campus.
Even though TPD doesn’t endorse the use of any self-defense procedures, the police department provides personal safety courses and tips online.
The City of Tallahassee and Florida A&M University are participants in the Rape Aggression Defense system, a program designed to teach self-defense tactics and techniques to women.
“Of course, as a female you feel targeted,” said Jaeylyn Kyle, a second-year English student from North Carolina. “You’re viewed as less threatening because you aren’t as strong as a male.”
Since living on campus her freshman year, Kyle has moved off campus and uses the same protective mind set.
“If I am walking somewhere alone at night, I take into account that something could happen, so I prepare myself mentally,” Kyle said. “I know that if something were to occur, I’m going to do everything I can to defend myself.”
For victims of a crime, such as a robbery, the best alternative is to seek help, whether it’s talking with a professor or repeatedly to a friend. Emotional health and can affect some people for years.
In some cases, people experience flashbacks, nightmares or avoid simple day-to-day tasks.
“Let’s say [the robbery] happened right in front of The Commons,” said Douglas Khan-Stancil, coordinator for clinical programs at Sunshine Manor. “Now, the student doesn’t want to go there because they’re traumatized and want to avoid the area as much as possible.”
Right after I was robbed of my wallet and cell phone, I found it hard to admit to myself and others that, “Yes, I am a victim.” But now I live to help others who don’t know that they are victims of the future.