Carly Rice of Rockford: Tonight human traffickers tried to abduct me. I knew this was a thing that was happening here in our city, but now I know that it’s really serious. Ladies…BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS. I am still reeling from the experience and will put it into words with more detailed descriptions tomorrow, but I just need time to regroup and be with my family. Be alert for a newer white SUV with at least three men in it and a very dark skinned man, white hoodie with black graphic design. He has a very strong African accent on is on foot. PLEASE SHARE!
What happened: I was standing outside our building on 5th ave just near 7th st, smoking a cigarette (sorry, to a certain someone. I allowed the stress of moving mid-remodel to get the better of me). We have been in this neighborhood for a few weeks now and I have noticed a lot of prostitution and drug sales happening, but that is my personal history, as well, so I am not easily scared by it. In fact, I want people to see us out here picking up trash, planting in the community garden, going on walks as a family, feeding people, talking with neighbors, having friendly/supportive relationships with the local police and being generally observant. I know we can initiate change by doing these things, but that change hasn’t come to fruition yet.
As I am standing against our building I notice a car pull up down the street and open one of it’s passenger side doors. I can hear at least three men talking loudly inside and I am assuming they are dropping someone off to the bar just around the corner, which they do, but this man comes directly up to me and is trying to start a conversation. He was speaking oddly, slowly and with a heavy African accent. As I am trying to make sense of what he is saying, I locate the doorknob to our home behind my back and grip it. I firmly say “NO” to him, as he reaches his hand out to grab me and simultaneously notice the car with the other men in it was slowly approaching behind him and they have opened the rear passenger door. Fortunately, my partner, Jacob, was right inside the house and I was able to unfreeze (the fear of realizing what was happening had paralyzed me) and swing the door open behind me. I kind of fell into the house because my legs felt like jello and mumbled an odd choice of words to Jacob, who went promptly out the door at my request, the man was still lingering and having found a few words, I yelled whatever happened to come out “NO! Not in this neighborhood!” The car saw Jacob come out and took off speeding towards 8th st while the man who approached me took off running towards 7th st as he got on his phone and started yelling at someone.
It happened fast and my mind was telling me that I was overreacting, that this could not be happening.
Things I have learned so far:
Minimizing those feelings of something being wrong is dangerous. I feel like a strong person, but now I am questioning my constant insistence in standing firm. Sometimes running and yelling is the best option. If something feels wrong, GO WITH THAT. I will not be taking chances on assessing situations as long as I did last night.
Rockford Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation – RAASE, Inc. has informational sessions which I will most definitely be attending to learn how to be prepared/educated and inform others on the same. I hope you do, too.
I want to be able to defend myself. Last night I was standing inches from safety, even though the suspect likely thought I was standing in the dark doorway of a closed business…what if I hadn’t been at the front door to my house? I now feel like it is my responsibility to learn what legal and appropriate ways I can be prepared. I will be looking into self-defense classes and pepper spray.
Above all, I learned that this could happen to anyone. BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS. Have your phone on you with and emergency dial option at the ready, if you are out alone and especially…especially if something doesn’t feel right. Trust your gut and be vigilant.
As I learn more about RAASE and the other resources available to us here in Rockford, I will share that information. See, I was not prepared and I hope that people will see this and educate themselves, so that they do not have to experience what I got away from and so many others have not.
A big, huge thanks to Danial Petrie, who had informed me that this was a thing happening and a real problem. If he hadn’t, I don’t know if I would have reacted as fast as I did (which felt like an eternity in the moment). Like a weirdo, I called him before I even called the cops because I was just so blown away that what we had just been talking about happened. I was in a state of shock and the logical conclusion of calling the police didn’t even occur to me (more of that minimizing behavior).
The cops take this seriously. Officer Roser was wonderful and listened with genuine concern to a rambling and frightened person. I saw him out doing increased patrols in the area after the incident after he made a thorough report.
Feel free to share. I certainly never thought this would happen to me.