How to Avoid Sexual Assault – Advice from a Retired Police Officer

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Hey all!

Today is a very different post than what I normally put up, but I really feel like it needs to get out there. After ending last year with a slew of sexual assault stories coming out, not to mention the vastness of the “Me Too” campaign, I really wanted to get the word out as to how we can better avoid these situations. Will and I have supported charities for years that fight against sex trafficking, because of which a passion as deeply developed in us to fight anything that has to do with any kind of sexual assault. It is one of my deepest desires to see this stop being so commonplace!

So I interviewed a dear friend, who is now a retired police officer. Matt Miranda is the father of my oldest, and one of my best friends. He is the real deal, and a fantastic human being. I learned so much as I interviewed him, and I hope that this will help all of us here too. Let’s stack the deck in our favor, right?! I’m just going to let him take it from here. Take it away Matt!

With sexual assault cases at an all time high, a retired police officer gives practical advice to help women stay safe.

Could you please describe your background a bit in law enforcement?

I was a police officer and deputy sheriff for just over 25 years.  I started with Los Angeles County and worked both custody (the jail) and patrol (Lynwood).  I then lateralled to Burbank PD and spent the rest of my time there.  I worked custody (3 years-LA County Jail)  patrol (8 years-five as a training officer), and 14+ years in investigations.  Half of my time in investigations I investigated sexual assaults as my primary responsibility.

What are some ways that women can be proactive against sexual assault?

The best way to be proactive against sexual assault is to avoid dangerous situations.  I am not talking just about going out late at night alone in a dangerous area.  By far most women suffer sexual assault at the hands of someone they know (family and extended family) and someone they know either from work, gym, or on a date.  Consuming alcohol has been the precursor to many a sexual assaults.  Inhibitions are lowered and bad decisions are made.  If you are going to consume alcohol, ONLY do so with people you trust.  I have investigated many sexual assaults when the victim was drinking with “friends” at a party and with lowered inhibitions or flat out drunk, were taken advantage of.

What are some red flags to look out for?

Red flags for adult women are men trying to get you to drink something, or to get you alone either at their place (car, hotel room, or residence).  If a man is trying to get you alone, he has sex on his mind.  I am not here to preach morals, but if a man truly wants to get to know you, he can do so in a public place.  I have investigated very few cases where a drug was used.  It happens, but most often they use alcohol as the drug of choice.

What are some things that criminals look for in choosing their victims?

There are VERY FEW sexual assaults where criminals target a female without first meeting them.  It happens, but most often is happens after they have met you.  I had one case where a former co-worker lured the victim to his apartment with a rouse.  Don’t go to a man’s residence period!  If there is a true emergency he can call 9-1-1.  This included hotel rooms, and possibly work places.

What should someone do if they were to find themselves face to face with an attacker?

By far the best way to face an attacker is to fight.  Please go to some sort of self defense class geared towards women.  They can give you some very basic moves that will help you in facing an attacker who normally has greater body strength.  On the rare occasion, fighting back can be the worst thing you can do, but this is far from common.  If they find themselves in a bad situation and are faced with a weapon, their best choice may be just to survive the encounter.  Again, most attacks are without weapons and they are just looking for an easy victim.  Quick decisive physical violence against the attacker most often drives them away.  Pepper spray can be very effective, but it must be in your hand!  Searching for a small spray bottle in your purse while being attacked won’t end well.  Be prepared with it in your hand if you are in a dangerous area.

When is a good time to report sexual assault in the workplace?

In reporting sexual assault at the workplace, my first contact would be with the local police.  I would not put my faith in a workplace that may not have YOUR best intentions in mind.  They may want to protect the attacker or their employer.  If at school, I would probably go to local police, not campus police.  Some campuses again don’t have your best interests in mind.  They are employed by the school and MAY want to protect them.

What should someone do if they see someone else getting assaulted?

If one sees a sexual assault in progress call the police immediately.  Most people have cell phones so this is much easier now then it used to be.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

In closing I hope women understand that the guy hiding in the bushes or in an alley just waiting for them does happen, but is not normal.  The attacker is someone they know or recently met.  Use your head.  Avoid consuming alcohol with someone you just met.  I would not trust women coworkers either.  I have seen where they cheered on the attack of another female for various reasons.  Trust only close personal friends and I hope your family.  If you are on a date and go to the residence (or take a man to yours) after consuming alcohol, sex will be expected.  This is by far the most often sexual assault I investigated.  Yes, I am talking about date rape.  You may have no intentions of sexual intimacy, but the vast majority of men expect sexual contact after spending money on you for dinner and a couple of drinks.  Sorry ladies, those are the facts of life.

I have investigated the sexual assaults of females (and young men) from the ages of 3 to 83.  I have taken a case from fresh complaint all the way through a jury trial.  I have also had cases in front of the district attorney where both the district attorney and I both know the victim was indeed victimized, but they refuse to file the case as they don’t think they can convict in front of a jury.  That is one of the filing criteria in LA County.  This happens most often when it is he said she said.  Fortunately this is rare.  I was able to get corroborating evidence to prove the case against the suspect.

Hope this helps!

xoxo, Lauren

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