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Awareness and Preparedness Keys to Preventing Rape

By Natalie Potts
By npotts@wbbjtv.com

JACKSON, Tenn.- After a weekend rape of a woman in east Jackson, police are now warning all drivers to develop a plan of action to prevent trouble on the road.

Officers said the attack happened in the 400 block of Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior Drive around 8:30, Saturday night.

Investigators said the 45-year-old victim's car stalled on the street where she was then approached by a what she thought was a Good Samaritan offering to help.

The victim told police she was attacked when she went to get items out of the trunk of her car. She said the man grabbed her and raped her in the street, then ran away after the attack.

Investigators are looking for a suspect , described as a black man around 6' 1", in his 50's or 60's with a medium build. Police said the man is bald, dark complected with acne and a scar over his right eye.

The Rape Abuse Incest National Network reports that every two minutes someone is sexually assaulted in the U.S. Jackson residents said the recent sexual violence in Jackson is scary.
" It is so violent here in Jackson," said Resident Debra Hopkins." It just doesn't pay you to trust everybody."

Margaret Cole with Jackson's Women's Rape Assistance Program or "WRAP" told 7 Eyewitness News that one in every four women is sexually assaulted each year.

"No place is 100 percent safe. Doesn't matter where you are, or what time of day it is," said Cole. "Rapists looks like everybody else, the people that perform crimes, commit crimes they look like everybody else."

We asked residents in Jackson to share some of their best tips in staying safe in a compromising situation.

Residents said they believe it is a good idea to keep their vehicle serviced and full of gas. If anyone were to break down, they advise drivers to not accept help from anyone unless it is from someone the driver knows and trusts. "Just don't trust anybody," said driver Elizabeth Cartwright.

Police said it is best to stay in your locked car and call Police who will come to the scene if a driver is feeling unsafe. Officers said drivers who do not own cell phones should put on their hazard lights and wait for an officer.

Experts told 7 Eyewitness News that drivers should always stay in their locked car, be aware of their surroundings and have a phone to call for help.

Some residents told us they carry self-defense weapons just in case.
"I carry red pepper spray on my key chain," said Hopkins.

If anyone suspicious approaches the vehicle trying to help, residents said drivers should keep their distance and mention police.

"Say: 'I'm alright. I'm on the phone. I'm talking to the police right now'. Something like that will make them get away from me," said Cartwright.

One preventative tip from police they said can help decrease a driver's chances of being attacked is to never turn your back on a stranger.

If you have any information in this weekend's attack, call the Jackson Police Department at (731) 425-8400 or Crime Stoppers at (731) 424-(TIPS).

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