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The grab and drag: how to avoid or escape a common assault tactic

October 31, 2010

Predators are creative. There’s no way to predict how they will attack. One guy may approach from the front in full view and ask you an innocent question or two to lower your guard — Got the time? How ’bout a light? — before lunging at you with a series of punches. Others prefer more stealth.

The one tactic I see over and over again in news stories is one I call the grab and drag. He sneaks up from behind, grabs you by the hair, around the neck or around the shoulders before dragging you to a nearby destination. The destination could be a wooded area, behind a building, behind a dumpster, or even to a waiting car or van. Just this past week:

  1. A guy in Pittsburgh jumps a woman and pulls her into the woods.
  2. Another guy in Orlando pulled a woman by the hair into a nest of trees.
  3. A criminal in Connecticut jumped a woman from behind and pulled her into a patch of bushes.

Each of these crimes was executed in the same way: approach from behind, grab and drag. The criminal has the advantage of catching the victim off guard. Before the victim realizes what’s going on, she’s out of public view and far less likely to be saved by passers-by.

I don’t know all the details of the crimes above, but one factor that is common in these attacks is a distracted victim — one who is talking on a cell phone or listening to an iPod. An assault victim in Australia last week even made a point of warning others about the perils of walking with ear buds in your ears and music in your brain.

When out for a walk or jog, it’s imperative to know what’s going on around you. Keep an eye on places ahead where someone could hide, like behind a building or tree. Turn around once in a while to look behind you. Don’t listen to music or talk on the telephone — if you do, you can’t hear the thug approaching from behind. It’s far easier to avoid an attack than to defend yourself against one.

If you are grabbed, struggle like crazy to get free before you’re dragged out of site. Here are two videos that could help.

This first is an escape from a rear bear hug. On the final move in this video, the man lifts the legs of the assailant. That part isn’t necessary. Simply standing and twisting inward toward the assailant will knock him off balance.

The next clip is for escaping a side headlock. The technique is similar. The point is to trip the victim by getting your leg behind his and pushing him backward over your leg.

Please keep in mind that these techniques are easier demonstrated than done. In a real assault, the assailant will be moving quickly, pulling you off balance, and you’ll be frightened beyond belief, which can freeze your ability to respond. Get professional training if at all possible.

But always, always stay aware of your surroundings, and keep the music at home. The grab and drag only works if you’re caught off guard. If you sense someone approaching before he gets there, scream “NO” and run as fast as you can to safety.

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