Letter: Story should have focused on self-defense

I greatly appreciate the Gazette’s efforts to inform the public about the details of the attempted assault at Jamaica Pond, but the headline and the first paragraph of the article are incomplete. (“Cops: Woman assaulted at pond,” Jan. 20.)

A closer reading of the article reveals that this woman successfully defended herself by using her voice and shining a flashlight in the would-be assailant’s face. In response to her actions, the assailant fled, but not before she got a physical description, which she gave to the police. Most importantly, this woman’s bravery and fast thinking kept her from sustaining serious injuries. Unfortunately, this woman’s successful self-protective actions are nowhere to be found in the Gazette’s headline or the opening paragraph of the article.

As the director of a nonprofit organization that teaches self-defense, I encounter a surprising number of women and girls who don’t think they could successfully defend themselves, especially against an individual who was larger than them. This is true despite the fact that results of the National Crime Victimization Survey consistently show that forceful physical and verbal resistance are effective at stopping attempted physical and sexual assaults. Yet stories of effective self-protective action are so often ignored or de-emphasized in media stories about crimes, as they were in this article.

It is my hope that future coverage will do more to emphasize the brave actions taken by individuals who are targeted for potential violence. You would do the Jamaica Plain community a great service to show people all the ways in which we are all powerful and capable of protecting ourselves.

Meg Stone, Executive Director, IMPACT, Malden

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