Experts Speak on Defending Oneself Against Criminals - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Experts Speak on Defending Oneself Against Criminals

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An attempted robbery on Fontaine Avenue in Charlottesville on Tuesday  that left the attackers badly beaten and detained by the victims is sparking a debate over how you should defend yourself when things go wrong.

During that split second when a person is under attack, it can be difficult to know what to do - but law enforcement and other experts have some definitive guidance that depends on the type of attack a person faces.

"In a lot of cases, it's fight or flight for some people. Some people run, other people will turn and fight," said Lt. Ronnie Roberts of the Charlottesville Police Department.

Roberts says police generally recommend not fighting an attacker. He says, all too often, the victim is harmed.

"Taking this type of matters into your own hands can really lead to a tragedy," said Roberts. "We've seen those tragic moments that impacted the community and not only the community but the families that are involved."

But law enforcement's recommendation changes in one type of attack - sexual assaults. 

"Especially women during those types of incidents, when they are encountering a male who is attempting to sexually assault them to fight back - we do," said Roberts.

The Sexual Assault Resource Agency's Director Rebecca Weybright has a different opinion on the right response.

"I don't know that anybody can tell somebody what to do when faced with that situation," said Weybright.

Weybright says while carrying guns or taking classes may be an option: 

"You want to do whatever you can to get out of it - the other end of it - to be OK," said Weybright.

Roberts says that the best way to defend yourself is to avoid places and situations that may be risky and to travel in groups. 

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