Advocacy groups offer tips to teens after library assault

WASHINGTON – Area residents remain on edge after a 17-year-old girl was attacked on Tuesday at the Thomas Jefferson Library in Falls Church, Va. The victim ducked into a bathroom trying to escape a man she thought was following her and he cornered her there.

Advocacy groups say the best thing to do in that type of situation is to find a trusted adult and warn that older kids are often targets.

“Avoid isolated areas where you may face the perpetrator one on one,” says spokeswoman Katherine Hull for the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. “Even if you are in a familiar place, it’s really important not to be lulled into a false sense of security.”

RAINN offers these tips to parents and their children on how to avoid dangerous situations:

  • Be aware of your surroundings. Knowing where you are and who is around you may help you to find a way to get out of a bad situation.
  • Try to avoid isolated areas. It is more difficult to get help if no one is around.
  • Walk with purpose. Even if you don’t know where you are going, act like you do.
  • Trust your instincts. If a situation or location feels unsafe or uncomfortable, it probably isn’t the best place to be.
  • Try not to load yourself down with packages or bags as this can make you appear more vulnerable.
  • Make sure your cell phone is with you and charged and that you have cab money.
  • Don’t allow yourself to be isolated with someone you don’t trust or someone you don’t know.
  • Avoid putting music headphones in both ears so that you can be more aware of your surroundings, especially if you are walking alone.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children also warns parents that while young children are often thought of as the target of predators, the group says that 11- to 17-year-olds are equally likely to be victims.

For help, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE or contact them online.

WTOP’s John Aaron contributed to this report.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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