Kim Johnson Reporting No matter how the Lori Hacking case turns out, it will make others -- particularly women -- nervous about their safety. When public attention is focused on a case like this, the experts say it’s an opportunity to remind people, of the realities of random sex offenses.
Heather Stringfellow heads up the Rape recovery center in Salt Lake. She used to be a detective for the Salt Lake City Police department, and her first piece of advice is to know what's going on around you and trust your gut instinct.
Heather Stringfellow, Dir. Rape Recovery Center: "The number one thing that I found in common with the victims of crime that I interviewed was that they had an odd sense about the person that attacked them."
She says if a woman senses something is unusual, or if she suddenly becomes nervous, she shouldn't dismiss that feeling, and look away. Instead Stringfellow says, she should boldly look right at the person making her feel uncomfortable.
Heather Stringfellow: "You just look at them straight in the eye. Ask them what time it is, or something silly to say I see you, I see what you look like, and I know what's going on."
Now you've made eye contact and gotten a good enough look that you'd be able to identify him in a line up, you're less appealing as a target. Perpetrators are opportunists. They'll look for women who are alone in secluded places because they don't want witnesses. They'll also look for women who are distracted --talking on cell phones, or rifling through purses because they're easily overpowered.
Stringfellow says women who yell, kick and scream are less attractive targets because they're going to cost their perpetrators too much time.
With all that said, Stringfellow says women should not live in fear.
Heather Stringfellow: "It breaks my heart because it’s not women's responsibility to say I can't go running, I can't go walking, I can't go out at night, or do this or that because I might be attacked."
She says the responsibility lies with the perpetrators, and with a society that tolerates attacks on women. But reality is women have to be wary.