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Editorial: Safety in numbers
It’s the kind of news that sets a community on edge, and it has Langley women looking over their shoulders.
When police announced their suspicions over the weekend that a serial rapist could be at work in the Langleys, a collective shudder ran through the community.
The attacks on two young women — one 16 years old, the other 19 — came two months apart. The first happened at a bus stop in June and the most recent near Douglas Park on Aug. 20.
Adding to the fear factor, both assaults happened not in the wee hours, under cover of darkness, but in the early evening, when plenty of people are presumably out and about.
Police began to connect the dots when each woman’s description of her attacker produced eerily similar drawings, and quickly did the right thing in letting the public know.
While the police are no doubt making it their top priority to catch this predator, there are steps the public — women in particular — can and should be taking to help ensure their own safety.
In fact, the RCMP have offered a few suggestions to that end. The full list is on our website as part of Tuesday’s story.
One of the most important things to remember, they advise, is that self defense begins well before you find yourself fighting off an attack.
It starts with awareness — knowing what is going on around you and considering what potential strategies an attacker might employ.
Being aware includes using your “sixth sense,” say police — listening to that voice inside your head that is telling you something is wrong, even if your eyes and ears aren’t picking up the signals.
If worse comes to worst, knowing how to escape or — as a last resort — to effectively defend yourself against an assault is a skill well worth having, they add. Tips for selecting an effective self defence program are included in the online list.
Be sure to familiarize yourself with the sketches, too. And, of course, keep an eye out and report anything that seems suspicious.
In both cases, the women selected by the suspect were alone. And while that can’t always be helped, it makes sense to travel in pairs or groups whenever possible.
As the saying goes, there’s safety in numbers. Think of it as a great way to make a few new friends.