January 8, 2013

Crime Beat: Woman Narrowly Escapes Violent Attack

This scary story is lighting up the local email lists:
Hello -

If you're getting this email its because you are a female friend in my circles, live in my neighborhood-ish, or have a large circle of women friends. I wanted to spread the word of what happened to me so hopefully you and your circles can be more aware, street smart and vigilant about your personal safety.

On Saturday evening I was walking home from a friends potluck through the mission when I was attacked - an attempted rape. I was actually being quite conscious of those around me due to the fact that I'm heading to Nairobi in several weeks and personal safety has been on my mind. As I turned up 23rd street, I noticed a man walking to me that 'zero-ed' in on my presence, locking eyes on me. There was no side street to turn down, and I didn't want to turn around, exposing my back to him, so I kept walking. As we neared each other, I tried to walk around a tree quite close to the curb, before I could do so he lunged at me.

He knew what he was doing and how to attack someone. He went first for my eye socket with his thumb and put his other hand in my mouth to stifle my screams and slammed me down to the ground. He was using the hand in my mouth and on my jaw to try and slam my head on the concrete, presumably to knock me out. Once I was down on the ground he straddled me pinning down my arms. After about 15s of struggling just to avoid him knocking me out, I was able to use all my strength to surge up on my right side to unpin that arm. Since I'm a climber, I'm strong, and I don't think he was expecting this and was unprepared for that maneuver. Luckily through this move and some biting, I was also able to get his hand out of my mouth and started screaming - first just yelling and then screaming for help. I struggled with him while screaming and trying to avoid him knocking me out for another 30s until a couple in a house several houses down the street threw open their window and turned on lights. This scared him away.

The cops came and while we drove around looking for him for awhile, we were unable to find him. This means that someone who clearly knows how to attack swiftly and effectively is still out there in our neighborhoods. This happened at 23rd between Guerrero and San [Jose] - the fringe of the mission and noe.

I'm incredibly lucky that I had the strength to keep him from delivering a knock out blow and to fight for so long until someone came to help. I'm incredibly lucky that those in the houses around me didn't fall prey to crowd think and assume someone else was going to help. I'm walking away from this with a bruised eye, scratches on my face, road rash on my shoulder and sore/bruised back, shoulders, jaw and ribs. It could have been significantly worse.

I wanted to spread this around not to try and get attention or your sympathy, but to hopefully make you aware of the fact that attacks, and 'bad things' can also happen to people in your circle. We live in a big city and the best thing you can do is be incredibly conscious of your surroundings at all time. Please - walk in groups, or with a male friend, take taxis and dial up those street smarts...

Feel free to send this around to other females that could benefit from a dose of reality.
Details are still emerging, and no description has been given of the suspect. We'll update as more info is available. Be safe. And if you hear screaming out your window do something. This woman is lucky.

Update (1/9): Mission Local confirmed with SFPD that this attack happened at approximately 2:40am and posted a description of the suspect:
Authorities described the suspect as an 5’8-tall Asian man who weighs approximately 160 pounds, between the ages of 20 and 30. He has a buzzcut and a slight beard and was wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt and dark pants. 
 SFPD is investigating this as an attempted rape.

Also: a rally has been organized for this Friday from 4-6pm to promote solidarity among/with women and to  increase awareness and vigilance so these attacks don't continue.

Update (1/14): The SFPD has released a sketch of the suspect.

57 comments:

Eileen said...

Thanks to this woman for taking time to circulate her story. It was most likely not easy to write, but it may do a world of good for other potential victims.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad she was severely injured, but even what she went thru is horrible.

I would also suggest, which I do, is ALWAYS carry pepper spray, with it in your pocket but your hand on it. You can in a split second blast it at the guys eyes and he will be down.

Pepper spray does work. I have used it before to stop an attack and the guy was on the ground moaning in pain in about 2 seconds. It's legal to carry.

Best of luck. Be safe, be aware.

Anonymous said...

MY apologies: typo: NOT severely injured.

Mike said...

Thank you for telling your story, and I'm glad you were able to fend of the attack.

The worst I've been through was an unsuccessful phone grab attempt recently in the Castro/Corona Heights. This is so much more scary than that.

New Factory, Friend said...

I'm so glad you came out of this okay! Can I ask what time of the night it was?

Anonymous said...

Is there a police sketch of the attacker? I would gladly share it to my entire SF network.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry this happened to you. I have been attacked in SF as well (I was more or less physically OK afterward--the psychological side was another matter) and they never found my attacker. I'm glad people responded as soon as they heard you--I was ignored. I was told later that the best thing to do is not just scream, but yell "Help! Help! Call 911!" repeatedly (sounds like that's what you did, smart girl), but at the time I was just terrified. i'm still angry that all the people around me did absolutely nothing (it was on Market at 9 a.m.). I'm glad you were so strong and able to fight back effectively and keep your wits about you. I'm putting the pepper spray back in my purse and warning my friends in the city. Thanks for sharing this.

Anonymous said...

What time was this?

Jess Stanton said...

I wonder if it was the same guy I helped a woman get away from. I was walking my 3 large dogs while on the phone with my mom. A woman stopped next to us looking upset and slightly lost. I asked her if she was lost and she said "this guy is following me", so I hung up with my mom, linked arms with her and started walking with her. I figured my dogs would deter him, but we went up the street, turned around, went down the street, crossed the street. No matter what, the guy wouldn't stop following. Finally she said something to the guy and he sort of wandered off, but we could still see him. Another guy stood with us and offered to walk her home, but because she was going to be walking HOME and I didn't want him knowing where she lived, I called her a car and waited for it to come and pick her up before moving on. Once she was in the car and on her way, I went on the rest of my walk. He was nowhere to be seen then. It was scary and kind of sobering. I'm glad you're ok.

Anonymous said...

Sorry you were attacked. I'm not sure how realistic it is to "walk in groups, or with a male friend, take taxis [and dial up those street smarts...]"

To add to yelling, "CALL HELP!" I suggest, "I don't know this man" and his physical description [whatever you can see]. For example, "I don't know this white man wearing a blue jacket and jeans!" Repeat as loudly and clear as you can.

Anonymous said...

Jess - can you tell us where this stalking incident occurred? Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry this happpened to you. I was born and raised here and have had to endure similar instances. My son was jumped on 28th Street 2 years ago in Noe Valley & people turned their lights on but did nothing to help. My son laid there for at least an half an hour and no one even called the police. He had a severe concussion; and had his front teeth kicked in. He managed to get home and we called the police and an ambulance came and took him to the hospital. I was so upset that no one even called the police. It really destroyed any sense of community I have felt here; and I grew up here. I am so glad you shared your story and got away unharmed. Please carry pepper spray and a stun gun if you feel you must. I have one and I am not afraid to use it if I am attacked. But when any of you look out your window and see a kid laying on the ground (who is bloody) please call the police!! It is the right thing to do.

Anonymous said...

this was around 2:15-2:30am... I live across the street. The response from neighbors was pretty prevalent. I can attest that we live on a pretty nice block of the mission (noe), everyone says hello to each other, people are very cordial, so it makes me glad that the response to your cries for help weren't ignored. I'm very sorry this happened to you, and I could see when the police were speaking to you how shook up and scared you were... I sincerely hope you're doing better and thank you for sharing your story.

Darious said...

Oh man. This is horrid. Why is there no time of day or description?

Anonymous said...

I am sickened by this story, but am sincerely grateful that this woman shared her experience and she is ok. This is a painful reminder that no matter what neighborhood you live in or how "gentrified" it has become, we all must take care and be conscious of our surroundings at all times including not texting or talking on our cell phones when walking to/from home.

Anonymous said...

How were you dressed? I presume in Saturday evening wear. Why were you walking alone anyway? This is a city, it can be mean and dirty. This letter of awareness is good for just that. As for heading to Nairobi, here is some advice, don't. Two words; Gang Rape. The shit that went down in India, happens in Nairobi everyday, it just doesn't make the news because they are used to it, and there victims never make it to the hospital.

Anonymous said...

@anon 4:14 - are you saying the victim is at fault?

Anonymous said...

Also try carrying a whistle. IF your gut tells you something is wrong, you can start to blow it before they get too close.

Anonymous said...

Blaming the victim only perpetuates violence against women. No matter how sexually aroused a man might be he does NOT have the right to attack and rape in any circumstance. This did not happen because she was walking alone at night or because of what she was wearing. This happened because there are men who believe it's ok to rape and there are still people who make excuses for rapists.

Anonymous said...

@4:58
I was not blaming the victim. I was making presumptions based on what was in the story. Here is a news flash for you. Men have been raping women for 100,000 of years. It is not going to stop tomorrow, the day after that, or even the day after that day. You have only one line of defense and that is yourself. This is a story about how some girl walking around the streets of a city late at night on her own was attacked. I would also like to know if the “victim” had been consuming alcohol, seems like any details on that seem to be missing. This is a cautionary tale, and should be simply titled. “Don’t be stupid or someone will take advantage of you.” I think all the sympathy is the wrong reaction.

Anonymous said...

I too am so sorry to hear this and so proud of your strength and presense of mind. You are a super hero really!Great job!
When I was young and pretty in the Mission when it was a REALLY dangerous neighborhood we wore big overcoats and didn't walk around showing skin and stayed out at night in groups and NEVER walked around alone at night- we took cabs everywhere.

A roomate of a friend was walking home on 23rd and So. Van Ness a week ago at midnight and got to the apartment, put the key in the door when someone tapped her on the shoulder. When she turned around he smashed a glass in her face. It turned out to be a gang initiation. I wonder if this guy you thought was Asian was really Indio-Chicano and if this too was a gang initiation?
22nd St-24th Bryant to Mission is Ganglandia. They never used to cross the line outside of their world but all the new "hipsters" they percieve as rich, privledged and taking over THEIR neighborhood.
People need to wake up to where they actually are.
Be well supergirl!

Anonymous said...

i hope nothing like that happens to me.

Anonymous said...

Agree with @4:58. You're making excuses for rapists dude and just digging yourself a deeper grave. Plus you're snarky.

Anonymous said...

@5:11 saying "don't be stupid or someone will take advantage of you" is blaming the victim. A woman can do everything "right" to avoid the situation and to defend herself and still become a victim.

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU so much for posting this story! I'm a woman who lives at 23rd and Guerrero and prefer to walk instead of cabbing/driving. Your story is a warning to me to be more careful and prob not walk alone at night at all. I'm glad you're okay.

Noe Valley, SF said...

Just an FYI - we're deleting some truly offensive comments and some opportunistic spam. Neither will survive, so don't bother.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely agree. There are way bigger issues here than what she was wearing. You should read the Harvard law review "Street Harassment and the Informal Ghettoization of Women" and think about what you may be suggesting. Women deserve the freedom to feel at ease in public places. Your questions are irrelevant.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting your story. I am glad you escaped this terrible situation.

For those seeking a deeper understanding of the impact of crime on women's behavior, I recommend reading 'Nothing Bad Happens to Good Girls' by Esther Madriz' The book argues that both fear of crime and a cultural attitude of blaming the victim contribute to women's oppression. Specially among minority communities.

Tessa said...

Very happy you're okay. I was in this same exact area walking the other night to get to Revolution Cafe. It's a very "happening" area with lots of people walking around and I am surprised things like this happen so easily. I used to commute through the mission to get to work in Pacific Heights at 5am and would be utterly and completely terrified. At that time I did not have pepper spray but I put my keys between each of my fingers in case any one would try and approach me. That's another last minute thing to do if you're fearing the area you're in. Glad you were strong enough to break away and that the nearby neighbors were courteous enough to open their doors.

Anonymous said...

This is my story. I circulated it to raise awareness. When I wrote it I was, and still am, very shaken up, so I did not include every detail that I should have.
@anon who choose to blame the way I was dressed: I was wearing jeans, boots (not high heeled, those harness/motorcycle frye boots), a baggy sweater, and over that a baggy rain jacket. I am saddened that you would think that my clothing choice brought this on me. I was definitely not dressed in a provocative manner, quite the opposite.

Anonymous said...

How much had you had to drink?

Anonymous said...

This is very scary and makes us more aware of our safety/surroundings. Regardless of what time this particular incident happened, it could easily occur earlier in the evening, or morning when it's light out. Some people are just out there waiting for their next target. Be careful everyone.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:06 your questions are far and beyond irrelevant at this point. Although I can understand that your insensitive interrogation is intended to communicate methods of prevention, this woman has put her troubling story out there with the intention of making others aware that this man is out there. This woman seems to have escaped a very determined attacker and would not have avoided him altogether simply based on whether or not she was sober or had a few drinks.

Anonymous said...

@ Anon 11:06

The woman seemed capable enough to fight back so it doesn't sound like she was completely drunk. Even if she was a little tipsy, so what? She has the right to amble on home without some complete psychopath attacking her for no good reason. It's ridiculous that you're trying to turn this around on her.

The bottom line is that women in this town should feel safe enough to walk home alone in the evening. There should be serious consequences for anybody who doesn't recognize or respect this.


Anonymous said...

People who do these things to others should be severely punished to make it less likely that they will repeat the crime and to deter others from such crimes. Prisons don't seem to be the complete answer, how about reintroduction of the stocks?

These criminals who willfully harm others should be put in positions in which the public can express their displeasure with their harmful behavior. Perhaps that will help the perpetrator to understand the disapproval of the community and how his actions affect the community. Perhaps in the stocks, exposed to the public and their disapproval, the perpetrators will have the opportunity to reflect on their behavior and the consequences and decide the don't want to find themselves in that position again. Perhaps the victims of crime in the city will begin to feel a sense of justice, that there are consequences.

Anonymous said...

I like your idea and absolutely agree that the victims need to feel a sense of justice. The balance of power has fallen way too far on the side of street thugs and we'll see more of these kinds of attacks if these scumbags aren't dealt with head on and forcefully.

The perps need to be caught first though. All too often, they simply run off and SFPD is unable to find them. This is large part of why they've been so brazen as of late. They can basically sucker punch whoever they want and run away without worrying about getting busted. Local law enforcement needs to step up their game.

Anonymous said...

That block is a complete nightmare because of the giant blight that gas station has been for years. I'm not surprised there was an attack there, I live less than half a block from there and avoid San Jose between 22 and 23 late.

We really should encourage the city to promote some kind of development there, like maybe this: http://www.socketsite.com/archives/2012/09/valencia_street_development_scoop_five_stories_at_the_c.html

Anonymous said...

I've shared this with all my female friends since we all go to school in the mission. This is scary. Also I guess I should stop wearing hoodies because I fit the description of the attacker -_-

Anonymous said...

So grateful you've shared this. I live not far away and like to think of myself as pretty streetwise and self-sufficient, but this has shaken me up more than I expected.

I just got a pepper spray for those walks between the train and my front door and will listen to my spidey sense extra carefully. It's also a good reminder that Kitty Genovese's situation should never happen again.

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness this woman is a fighter! I currently live in the East Bay, but years ago living in SF, was walking along Valencia somewhere around 20th I think. It was about 2 in the afternoon. I'm clearly butch, was wearing black motorcycle boots and a mans long, black coat. As I neared the corner, a man who had obviously set his sights on me, said something really vulgar, then he smiled. I ignored him. He decided to "step it up" and said "Well, how 'bout some p----y then?" I turned around, furious and with a strong sidekick, broke...his...knee. Then I continued home to to my child. I know that a lot of women will object to this action and that's fine, but as you can tell by that one dude who keeps interrogating our brave sister, some guys will never get it. Never.
I am really sorry this happened to her, but I think we need to flip the script. She kicked his ass! She's brave, she's strong and she has a very realistic picture of gender/power dynamics in the world. She may be a bit shook up, she may even experience an existential crisis or whatever, but she's in the real and that beats a dressed up, DisneyLand illusion any day!

Anonymous said...

I am very glad that you are okay and came out of it somewhat unharmed. You are a very clever and smart witted girl to know of your surroundings because something similar happened to me in broad daylight in the mission as well a couple years ago. I cannot stress how important it is to always know your surrounds whether it be day or night. For me, I was one of the lucky ones to get away. I realized a man had been following me for a little over a block. (I was on 18th & Mission and I was walking to 15th). I am always aware and conscious of my surroundings and realized about a block & a half down that this man was indeed following me. I only knew because I saw his shadow following a little closer than an average person would and followed my every move. When I stopped, he would stop, so by time I realized what was going on, he had caught on too, so I started walking faster and I saw his shadow with his arms out about to grab me and lunged at me, so I ran. I got to 16th and by the bart station, there was a police officer nearby and I ran up to him telling him that this guy had been following me for more than a block and when the guy saw the officer he took off running. I ran down to the bart station and went home, so I don't know if the guy was ever caught, but through this situation, it had definitely opened up my eyes to what the world is really like. Hope you get well soon!

Gwendolyn White said...

In response to anonymous 5:16, I appreciate your support of the woman that was attacked and the stories you shared. No one should be made to feel unsafe in their community. However, I am dismayed by this part of your comment: "I wonder if this guy you thought was Asian was really Indio-Chicano and if this too was a gang initiation?
22nd St-24th Bryant to Mission is Ganglandia. They never used to cross the line outside of their world but all the new "hipsters" they percieve as rich, privledged and taking over THEIR neighborhood."
To me, this comes across as unwarranted speculation based on race, and as indicative of an us vs. them mindset that incorrectly places the blame for society-wide violence against women onto individual men of color, who are routinely stereotyped as criminal and predatory. This kind of stereotyping is harmful and precludes solidarity across racial and gender lines, and I hope this wasn't your intention. I would love to hear more of your thoughts on this topic if you care to respond.

Anonymous said...

while I appreciate the problem of stereotyping, there are many southern mexicans who appear somewhat asian- because of racial mixing since the Spanish galleon trade in the Phillipines .. la china poblana is a famous folk story.
The point is that someone was attacked isnt it?

Anonymous said...

I live only a couple blocks away on 22nd St. and am horrified that this happened. I walk home alone all the time and I can attest that regardless of whatever you are wearing, this neighborhood can be quite empty of pedestrians and there are a lot of trees and dark shadows for people to lurk. I do wish more houses had motion sensor lights which would help with the darkness. I always walk home as quickly as possible but obviously this is not enough. I am buying pepper spray to carry before I walk home at night alone ever again.

Anonymous said...

My fiance was walking our dogs not 2 long before your incident happened and came across the exact description of the guy you encountered in the exact area this happened to you. She stopped to let the dogs go pee by a tree and this guy she had a bad feeling about got crept closer to them. And she grabbed the dogs and headed back to the house quick while the guy was just starring at them. If I catch that fool in the area again hes going to be assed out and wish he got arrested

79381c96-5bf2-11e2-8e88-000bcdcb471e said...

I'm REALLY glad that you were not hurt and got away safely. Thank you for putting the word out so we can all remember not to let our guard down and be cautious and familiar of our surroundings!

Anonymous said...

The victim in this story did everything right. I do however think she was being extra careful and scanning her entire perimeter. 2:30 am, no friends in a semi-sketchy area is asking for trouble. I'm not going to make her feel any worse but don't put yourself in these situations, this message is for everyone. Sure, it's a free world, free world for you as well as criminals. Is your life really worth hanging out at 2:30 am in the morning with no other company to get you home. I don't wish this on anyone but protect yourselves. Remove yourself from the equation. Anyone want to hangout in deep East Oakland and watch the side show with me, oh heavens no, well SF isn't any safer.

Also where is the sketch of this suspect? Normally, you'll see this on channel 2 and 4 new and plastered on their website. No sketch very awkward. Asian guy, 5'8 160 lb buzz cut that's like saying the suspect was black 6 ft with bald head, way too general of a description.

Anonymous said...

I live around the corner from where this took place (on Alvarado) and just found out about the attack in past few hours. To the victim I say I am so glad you are ok and I am so happy you have alerted others. We have had a rash of car break ins on the street in the past several weeks and a general uptick in the somewhat suspious looking people in our area early morning/late night. I plan on alerting other neighbors on the street as to what happened. I also plan on calling SFPD for anything(or one) out of the ordinary I see. We need to force SFPD to take action on more patrols of the Baja Noe Mission Deluxe area. I have no desire to be fearful of being attacked by simply taking my dog for a walk on my little block or going to move my car for street sweeping. Beyond being generally vigalant, we need to open our mouths up and demand the City work to make our streets and neighborhood safer.

Anonymous said...

What many people fail to understand is, the attackers are usually not Harvard students. you can write all about gender equality and prevention but ultimately understand that the person attacking you doesnt give a shit about womens rights. Avoid walking alone on deserted streets late in the evenings. It is smart to be safe. We dont live in a perfect world.

Anonymous said...

@ 11;57. I completed the sketch yesterday afternoon. The detective said he'd get back to me to confirm it before circulating it. These things take time. Also, He was hispanic - likely indo-chicano - I initially though he was asian because he did have more narrow eyes and was smiling when he came in to attack me, narrowing them further.

Anonymous said...

I've bought my pepper spray but still worried about the attacks going on lately. ABC News reported of attacks on women over in the Nob Hill and North Beach areas where a couple (man and woman) are targeting women who are distracted by talking or texting on their phones. They pepper spray or use guns to attack the women before mugging them.

Although I do try not to walk alone late at night, sometimes I have no choice. Sometimes a cab is not available or I don't have the money for one. Sometimes I am only 2 blocks from my home. Sometimes the friend who is supposed to be with me just up and bails. All the people who say "don't be dumb, don't walk alone" are ignorant of the fact that sometimes you find yourself alone and you don't have a choice but to walk home or walk a while to find a cab. I'm single, I live alone, and I often walk alone during day or night. I need a solution that will not depend on other people or cabs that never show up. What I need is to know how to protect myself the best way that I can and to use my eyes and ears to be cautious.

Anonymous said...

Wow........racist much?

Anonymous said...

Having moved here 15 years ago I was well aware that the mission was dangerous.....and guess what, it still is. I just don't understand these newbie twenty-somethings who move into places directly across from public housing or other areas of mission and then are surprised when there are shootings, assaults, etc. People need to do their research....its pathetic. These people are the perfect victims.

I took a self defense class when I first moved here.....and the best advice I got was don't walk alone at night. Everyone has an excuse....blame flaky friends, blame no cabbies, blame no money....but at some point one needs to take responsibilty for their actions. Im not blaming the victim, but no one held a gun to her head and made her stay at the party till 2am and then walk home. If I were in that position, I would have probably left much earlier for my personal safety reasons.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the last comment. It IS pretty stupid to walk home ALONE that late thru the mission, whether you are a man or woman.

It is and can be dangerous.

Be safe. No excuses.

Anonymous said...

My car was being stolen at 10pm, as I was walking up the street, I screamed for help as the theft almost hit me (with my own car) I yelled for help- no one turned on their lights, no one looked out until the cops pulled up 8 minutes later. I think differently of my neighborhood now- it was on 22nd St in Noe Valley. It was only my car- it I was being mugged, it is easy to think what would have happened. Go figure. So glad her neighbors helped and don't have their head in the sand.

Anonymous said...

I'm having a bit of deja vu. On Friday night, I parked on Guerrero at 23rd to meet a friend who was delayed from LAX. He was due to travel in via BART, so I chose to meet him on Valencia St. A few minutes after turning on 23rd St, I turned around to see a lone guy walking behind me, about 20 feet. Based on instinct and seeing that no one was around, I quickly walked to the center of the street and stayed there. I was worried about a sudden car turning the corner but my instinct told me to stay in the middlet of the street. Thankfully some guy som turned onto the street from Valencia so I felt safety in numbers. The description of the individual and the coincidence of the location make it seem all too familiar. Is this guy canvassing this street? Does he live nearby? In driving to work on Guerrero St,I noticed that thre is a run down building on Guerrero and 23rd with makeshift window blinds and a public notice. Is someone watching from there and timing himself for his prey?

So creepy!

Anonymous said...
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