Reader question: How can I avoid being hurt by someone like Brents?

I got an email from someone who’s about halfway through reading Diary of a Predator: A Memoir  that said, “The book is fascinating, but it also scares me to death.”

Toward that end, the young woman said,  “I’d like to know from these kinds of folks what the best way is to avoid being hurt by them.

“And I’d like to know that from you, too. What do you see are the steps women in particular can take to avoid being victimized and brutalized? Brents attacked these people in their own homes. Did those people leave their doors unlocked? Was there ANY WAY the attack could have been prevented? And he didn’t just attack young people. Or single people.

“It’s just terrifying, and I’m really really hoping that by the end of the book I will have found some answer as to how I can make sure
that never happens to me, because honestly, that’s precisely why I’m reading this book. To figure out how to live a peaceful, happy life free from horrific and brutal terror. I’m reading it to inform myself about how to keep people like Brents as far away from me as humanly possible, and how to counsel those I love to do the same. What are your thoughts?”

And this was my reply:

As for prevention, awareness and precautions–there is not a special section of the book that I devote to that. The entire book itself is really a cautionary tale of awareness, but to have put a how-to section in it would totally change the genre and halt the pace. It’s a dual memoir. As such, the story unfolds.

And if it fills you with such fear, then I would suggest that you’re probably missing the overall message, which is one of compassion and that we are all, ultimately, responsible for each other…
Yes, his case is terrifying. And yes, his utter lack of regard for humanity and the fact he was such a predator is what makes it so uncomfortable to read. No, there is nothing his victims could have done to prevent his attacks or fight him off–the scenarios that play out in the book illustrate that, time and again. Also, I chose not to explore that because that starts to sound like victim blaming–What could they have done to prevent their attack? Nothing, absolutely nothing; not a locked door, or a weapon, or any amount of pleas would have kept anyone safe from him when he was on a rampage.
Which is why we are left with the bigger question, which I explore at the end, of How do we prevent someone like him from existing? That’s the bigger question that takes into account a bigger picture.
As for your specific, concrete safety concerns, I can tell you what I’ve learned from many conversations with Brents and other criminals like him: Always lock your doors and windows at home, and never leave your car unlocked. Always be aware of your surroundings. Listen to your gut (that one should actually go first).
And since sadists like him are calculated to be only about 2 percent of all rapists–I would fight like hell (note from Amy here–that’s my personal opinion, and not one espoused by law enforcement).
He told me once that the best way to fight off someone like him is to draw as much blood as possible in the first thirty seconds and that if that doesn’t do it, then give up, because it will only motivate him more.
Last, get a dog. I’ve been a crime reporter for 20 years and I can tell you that all the criminals will agree–a barking dog is a deterrent.

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