Julianna Paradisi, RN, OCN, writes a monthly post for this blog and works as an infusion nurse in outpatient oncology.
Recently I was attacked by a stranger while running in the bright, mid-morning sunlight of summer through a populated urban setting.
My attacker did not know I am a nurse, so it’s only coincidental that it was violence against a nurse. However, I believe my nurse’s training contributed to choices I made in response.
How It Began: As I was running towards home through a busy recreational area along the river, a disheveled man on a bicycle turned a corner from the opposite direction and I swerved left to avoid collision. I thought nothing of it, and continued on.
First Contact: A few yards later, the same man rode closely up alongside of me so suddenly that I was startled when he angrily yelled something in gibberish. My nurse’s education and experience had schooled me not to react, not to make eye contact, and to get out of his personal space. At this point, the sidewalk forked. The stranger continued towards the left. I went right, on the greenway along the river. I kept running to put distance between us.
Second Contact: I felt him coming after me on his bicycle. I knew he was going to run me down. The nurse’s ability to critically think after a rapid assessment came to my aid. To the right was the river embankment lined with rocks. It wasn’t a long fall, but the loose rocks and the river held potential for further harm if he pursued. Instead, I chose to cross left, and then make my way up and through the landscaping of the riverfront condominiums. I didn’t succeed: he hit me from behind with his bike, yelling “Run faster!”
I knew it was important to stay on my feet, and throwing my weight backwards to stop the momentum, I did—grateful for an exercise class I’d started several weeks ago, strengthening my core. Read the rest of this entry »