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To catch a criminal, make him bleed

September 13, 2012

One of the smartest tips for catching a criminal came from a woman in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, PA, two years ago after she narrowly escaped an attempted rape:

“If someone attacks you, try to get their blood on you so [investigators] can get DNA.” (Read Fight-Back Files coverage of the attack here: Pittsburgh Woman Fights Off Attempted Rape with Knees and Keys.)

The advice is good because it simultaneously communicates two important self defense tips:

  1. Your self defense techniques must be brutal. You don’t draw blood by slapping somebody on the head.
  2. You need to help the legal system connect the thug to the crime scene. When police find your attacker, he’s not going to go along peacefully. He’s going to lie. He’s going to establish an alibi. He’s going to get a defense attorney. Your chances of making him pay the price of the crime are much greater if his blood is found at the scene of the crime.
Image of blood stains, which can connect the criminal to the crime scene

Blood on your clothes or at the crime scene can help convict the criminal when he tries to lie and cheat his way to freedom.

A woman in Coventry, England, watched her attacker get convicted and jailed for more than two years earlier this month because his blood was found on her clothing. The man attacked the college student from behind and wrestled her to the ground. As he covered her mouth to muffle her screams, she used her teeth to clamp down hard on the man’s finger, fracturing the finger and lacerating the skin. A drop of his blood was found on her coat.

Of course, when police approached the thug and asked about his  finger, he claimed it was slammed in a car door. But when told that his blood was on the jacket of the victim, he decided to plead guilty to sexual assault.

The victim in this case did exactly the right thing. To catch a criminal, make him bleed. She clamped down like a Rottweiler on the man’s fingers, exerting so much force that the bones broke and he bled. That’s aggressive.  That’s  violent. And that’s what you need to do to survive, to get away and to convict.

Self defense techniques that produce DNA

In addition to biting, the easiest way to draw blood from a criminal is to punch as hard as possible to the nose/mouth area. If you strike the nose or lips full force you’re likely to produce at least a few drops of blood. Noses bleed easily, as do cut lips. As the victim in the Pittsburgh case did, you can also use a sharp or rough-edged object (keys) to lacerate the skin on the face.

In the absence of blood, you can get DNA from his skin– and possibly produce blood, too — by clawing the attacker’s face with your fingernails. You can get skin from anywhere on the body, of course, but clawing the face is the most likely clawing technique to disorient the attacker long enough for you to escape. Don’t take just one swipe. Use both hands, one swipe after another, digging deep.

If your attacker has longer than average hair for a male, grab a small handful (about the size of one uncooked serving of pasta) with one or both hands and pull his hair like you’re pulling a stubborn weed from the ground. (Don’t let the “serving size” trip up your attack. The point is that a smaller amount of hair will rip out of the scalp easier than a larger amount. A full handful may not work as well.) If you’re attacker is on top of you, grab and pull as hard as possible to one side with one hand. With any luck, the pain and leverage will make him roll off to that side. Then get up and run like crazy and be careful to keep the hair.

The take-away is this:  In self defense, act aggressively and violently. Make the attacker bleed, or at least get skin under your nails or hair in your hands. The self defense techniques you use to accomplish those objectives will cause pain and give you a chance to run, and later they will give the authorities biological proof that the perpetrator was at the scene of the crime.

Read more details on the Coventry crime.

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