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Near Abductions: My Story

Sometimes you see something on TV and it hits home. A couple of weeks ago, I caught part of the show, 60 Minutes.  They were interviewing two young ladies who had been kidnapped as children but were miraculously able to escape a few days after their abduction. That virtually never happens…escaping.

The abuse they suffered permanently altered their lives in very negative ways.  They still struggle today to overcome the memories of what they endured at the hands of their kidnappers.  As I watched the show, memories came flooding back from my childhood.  I was almost abducted.  Twice.  They were failed attempts but they definitely left an impression that’s stayed with me all of my life.

The First Time
Forsyth Street, Macon, Georgia

I was only 7 years old and I had walked the block to the corner gas station to buy a drink and some candy.  With a small, brown paper bag of candy and a cold bottled drink clutched tightly against my chest, I started the walk back home.  I was about half way home when on one of the busiest streets in Macon, Georgia (Forsyth Street) a man pulled up to the curb in a really big car.  He stopped his car just on the other side of a giant tree that was growing right up out of the sidewalk.  To this day when I see a big tree growing up out of the sidewalk, my mind goes back and I’m 7 years old again…for just a moment.

Suddenly, I found my path blocked by a very tall, thin man.  At first he played being nice.  Looming over me, he told me to get in his car and he would take me to the store and buy me some candy.  Something inside of me said, he’s the one, the bad guy you’ve been told about.

When I was growing up, I was told by my sister and the other grown-ups in my life, “Never get in the car with a stranger.”  That was it, the sum total of my education about strangers. When I was raising my son, I also told him NEVER get in the car with a stranger.  But I went a lot further because the bad guys have a whole bag of tricks in their arsenal.

I told him if they say they have lost their dog and need helping find it, RUN.  If they say your Mother or Dad are sick and have been sent to pick you up, RUN.  If they stop to ask you for directions, RUN.  Every time I heard a new trick on Oprah or read of a new scheme in the newspaper, I passed it along to my son, trying to always stay one step ahead of the bad guys.

As I stood there on the sidewalk, cracked and heaved sky-ward by the huge tree growing up out of it,  the tall man told me if I would get in his car he would take me to the store and buy me lots of candy.  The tape played in my head, “Don’t get in the car with a stranger.”  Those 8 words were my armor, the only defense I had against this giant of a man.

Too afraid to look up, I told the gray pants in front of me I had already been to the store and I had candy.  It was the truth and I hoped he would hear it and go away.  He did not.  Instead, he told me to get into his car and he would take me to buy more candy.  I told him I didn’t want any more, I had enough already.

The cars raced by on Forsyth Street.  He didn’t give up.

His voice became more urgent, more insistent.  He changed tactics, telling me to get in the car and he would give me a ride home.  The tone of his voice scared me as the words played again in my head, “Don’t get in the car with a stranger.”  I didn’t budge.  I stared at the gray pants in front of me; I couldn’t bear to look up.   I told the stranger I just wanted to walk home.

He began to fidget, shuffling his feet.  Perhaps he was worried someone would notice the tall man talking to the little girl on the sidewalk behind the tree on the busy road.  His patience was running out, he was done playing nice.  He leaned his face down, down, down…until his mouth was just a few inches from my ear.  In a stern, angry sounding voice he said, “I’m going to get in my car and you had better come get in it.”  I’ll be waiting!”

I heard the car door slam.  I stood hiding behind the big tree, too afraid to run.  I had been having this dream every few nights. In the dream I was being chased by a ferocious lion, and always the lion could run at normal speed, but I couldn’t.  In the dream I was always stuck running in sloooow motion, as if through molasses, while the lion ran at full speed quickly closing the gap between us.  Thankfully, I always awoke before he caught up to me.

As I stood there, hiding behind the tree, I was sure if I ran he would know.  He would know, that I knew, he was a bad guy and then he would chase me.  I was sure he would be able to outrun me, just like the lion.  I stood paralyzed behind the tree, afraid and trying hard to be invisible, just wishing he would go away.

Then, it happened.  He drove off.  When I was sure he was gone and wasn’t coming back, I continued toward home.  Within a few minutes of getting to my house, the police arrived.  They asked me all kinds of questions.  What kind of car was it?  What did he look like?  I could tell them very little since I had been too afraid to look into his face.

When I was older, my sister told me, the woman who lived across the street from the big tree saw what was happening and called the police. I never saw her come out and she never called out to me or to the man, at least not that I heard. Maybe she came out onto her porch and that’s why he drove away. I’ll never really know, I just know I was very, very lucky.

The Second Time:
Forsyth Street, again

I was either 7 or 8 and we were still living in the same house on Forsyth Street.  I was walking home from school, a distance of about 3/4 of a mile, when a car pulled up along side the curb.  The back door of the car flew open and an older looking man called out to me, telling me he was a friend of my Dad’s and would give me a ride home.  He was around the same age as my Dad and I remember how friendly he was, smiling and so nice.  There were at least three men in the car, two up front and the one in the back.

I wondered, is he really a friend of my Dads?  The man reminded me of some of my Dad’s friends who occasionally came by our home.  He was so nice, smiling from the back seat of the car.  But the voice in my head said, “Never get in the car with a stranger.”

I politely thanked him but said, “No, I’d better just walk home.”  He asked again, coaxing, smiling.  He said I should really let them give me a ride home and that my Dad would want them to give me a ride.  Again, I declined, feeling kind of bad because he was so nice and friendly.  I remember worrying I might hurt his feelings if he really was a friend of my Dads.  The men eventually gave up and sped off and I continued the walk home.

When I got home, I told my Dad what happened.  My sister tells me he and my uncle were furious and immediately left to go look for the men and the car I described.  They never found them.

As I grew older (and wiser) I thought back on that day and realized there was no way any friends of my Dad’s that I may have met once or twice briefly as a child, would ever recognize me walking down the side walk on a busy road.  The scariest part now is remembering how I had felt bad turning them down, worried they might really be friends of my father’s and I might be hurting their feelings by declining their offer of a ride.

I wonder sometimes how I was so lucky when others have not been.  It’s only by the grace of God, some luck and maybe a miracle or two, that I am still here.  You know how folks say it’s more dangerous for kids today?  I’m not sure it is any more dangerous now than it was “back then.”  Perhaps we just hear more about it now because we have TV and the Internet.

Why Am I Sharing This?
So, why am I sharing these two near-abductions with you?  I want to encourage you, if you have young children or grandchildren, talk to them frequently about what they should do if they are approached by a stranger.  Don’t ever allow them to walk anywhere alone, no matter how short the distance…at least until they are way too big to be taken against their will.


*Update:  So much good information is being shared today in the comments on this post.  If you have a moment, please read those, too.  Thanks everyone for sharing your stories and such great information about keeping our children safe.  Such excellent advice!

Here are some tips for keeping your children safe.  These are from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

Know the Rules®…Summer Safety Tips to Teach Children

•Always CHECK FIRST with your parents, guardians, or the trusted adult in charge before you go anywhere or do anything. Be sure to CHECK IN regularly with your parents, guardians, or a trusted adult when you’re not with them.

Always TAKE A FRIEND with you when playing or going anywhere. It’s safer and more fun.

•Be aware of people who offer you treats or gifts. Never accept anything from anyone without your parents’ or guardians’ permission.

•Stay SAFER when you’re home alone by keeping the doors and windows locked; not opening the door for or talking to anyone who comes to the home unless the person is a trusted family friend or relative, you feel comfortable being alone with that person, and the visit has been preapproved by your parents or guardians; and never telling anyone who calls that you’re home alone. If your parent or guardian cannot be reached, have a neighbor or other trusted adult you are able to call if you feel scared, uncomfortable, or confused or there’s an emergency.

•Always TAKE A FRIEND with you when using a public restroom.

•Always TAKE A FRIEND with you when going to malls, movies, parks, or entertainment centers. And always CHECK FIRST with your parents or guardians to make sure it’s OK.

•Identify the safest place to go or person to ask for help in reuniting you with your parents or guardians if you become lost. Safe helpers could be a uniformed law-enforcement or security officer, store salesperson with a nametag, person with a nametag who is working at the information booth, or mother with children. Never search for your parents or guardians on your own, and never go with anyone who is trying to reunite you with them.

•Be careful when you play outside. Stay away from pools, canals, and other bodies of water unless you are with a trusted adult. Don’t play near busy streets or deserted areas, and never take shortcuts.

•Leave clothes or items displaying your name at home and don’t be confused just because a person you don’t know calls out your name.

•Say NO if anyone you don’t know or a person who makes you feel scared, uncomfortable, or confused offers you a ride. CHECK FIRST with your parents or guardians before taking a ride from anyone.

•Be careful playing outside as it gets dark. Sometimes it is difficult for people driving to see you. Wear reflectors and protective clothing if your parents or guardians say you may play outside after dark.

•Say NO and GET AWAY from any person or situation making you feel scared, uncomfortable, or confused. TRUST YOUR FEELINGS, and be sure to TELL a trusted adult if anything happens to make you feel this way. And it’s never too late to tell a trusted adult what happened.

Please share these tips with friends and family…because it only takes a second for a child to go missing forever.  And forever is a very, very long time.




Comments

  1. Cote de Texas says:

    omg, this is so scary = you were sooo lucky! i just read the book about the girl Jaycee who was kidnapped and didn't get home until she was almost 30 and the mother of 2 girls. it's called stolen life (i think! i got it on kindle) – it was so sad, i couldn't get it out of my mind for days and then she was on with diane sawyer a few days later. if you haven't read it, do. you should consider youself very very lucky. the way jaycee got taken was he used a stun gun on her – she never stood a chance against him.

  2. Hi Susan,

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. Just terrifying to read but oh so educational. Everything you said, I have told my kids over and over from a young age. Never go with a stranger! No matter what they offer and no matter how friendly they look. Never ever!

    And nowadays it doesn´t have to be a man that abducts you – it can be anyone and they can look just like you and me. That is so scary!
    As you mention, I too have watched Oprah and her many shows of the subject. I have learned so much from her.

    I live in a small town in Sweden, and people say, "things like that never happen here" – I say, you don´t know that! It can happen where you least expect it.

    You are indeed a very very lucky girl! You remembered what your parents taught you and listened to your intuition. Thank goodness.

    -Sanna

  3. Susan (Between Naps on the Porch) says:

    Sanna, you are so right. Unfortunately, there are "bad" guys everywhere, even in small towns.

  4. Janet Brown says:

    Families today are urged to have secret passwords known only to a chosen few adults and children. If and when a stranger offers candy or a ride home, the child is to ask the stranger what the password is and if the stranger doesn't know it, start screaming.

    I,like you Susan, would have been very worried about hurting a grown-up's feelings, particularly if s/he said they were friends of my parents. Rudeness to adults was not tolerated, but if I were to have young children today, I would opt for their safety everyday, and if that includes screaming, so be it.

  5. Lisa @ Before Meets After says:

    Susan that is so scary. I have chill bumps as I'm writing this. Many children are not as lucky as you were and it breaks my heart. What great advice to be teaching our kids! I teach elementary school and I always find myself talking to my kids about this every year, and it surprises me how many parents don't teach their kids this stuff!

  6. The Real Me! says:

    Goodness Gracious! How scary my friend. Just reading that I think back to how I used to walk to the general store by myself in our little home town in Maine just oblivious to my surroundings and probably even more ignorant than you.
    I'm feeling pretty blessed right now.
    We don't let our kids walk anywhere alone. It's just not worth the risk. Because you NEVER know who's lurking around the corner.
    Thanks for sharing your story and giving us a gentle reminder.
    HUGS
    Kim

  7. Renee @ where the grass is greener says:

    wow, that's a compelling story. I had a similar experience once when I was young, except that it was a teenager chasing me on foot. I really don't know if he was just trying to scare me or he was really going to hurt me, but I ran as fast as I could to a friend's house (mine was too far). Yes, I always gave my boys these warnings. Thanks for the reminder.

  8. Dixie Delights says:

    Thank you for taking the time to post your story. I will be talking to my son (again) as soon as he wakes up.

  9. Susan (My Place to Yours) says:

    Susan, how blessed you were – twice – to be spared from what could have been… This is an excellent post and one I pray will be read by many parents, grandparents, and friends — and shared with the children in their lives. When I see the cute little backpacks with names emblazoned on them that are so popular here at Back to School time, I just cringe inside. PLEASE, family members, don't advertise your child's name to strangers. It just makes it that much easier for a child to think that "the bad guy/gal" might really be a friend. Our children are our future. Let's be sure they're around to live it!

  10. Andi's English Attic says:

    Thank you for sharing your stories. Thank goodness for that inner voice. It's difficult explaining to kids all the tricks these evil people can try.

    Even as an adult I felt guilty for turning down a lift from a stranger. It was raining hard and he was probably being kind, but you NEVER get into a car with a stranger.

    xx

    • Odd but true….. I had a really bad feeling when I read your comment about the guy just trying to be nice. I do not think he was just trying to be nice-I wonder if this type deliberately troll neighborhood streets near bus stops or subway looking for a cold wet female who just might get into a car out of desperation. And how many observers are there on such a night- few to none. You used very very good judgment.

  11. Mid-Atlantic Martha says:

    How scary — Angels must have been with you. Thanks for sharing this most troubling story of your close calls.

  12. CHILLING!!!! franki p.s. It happened to me, too, and reading this just give me chills!!!

  13. Susan, Thank you for sharing your story as I was reading it I know the exact place you are talking about on Forsyth Street. I have lived in Macon all my life and as you were telling the story I could see the tree you were talking about that was growing out fo the sidewalk. I think back know of when I was younger, I grew up off of Shurling Drive and how my mom use to let me walk to the library and the grocery store and how luck I was never confronted by someone. I think that back then we didn't hear as much about abductions as we do today and I guess that is why my mom would let me go because I know that I would never let my children walk anywhere by themselves and I know that my mom would never had let me go if she thought I would have been in any danger. Thank you for sharing your story and I know that it will be an eye opener and a help for someone. Thanks again for all your posts and ideas. Jenny P

  14. ⚜ ↁℯℬℬᴵℰ⚜@ Debbiedoos blogging and blabbing says:

    So so scary Susan. I had encounters but not as relevant. They were more pull overs on the side of the road when I was walking, they never got out of the car. However, one of the men had no pants on, I was shocked and ran like heck down the street. I have taught my boys from early on. In fact, John Walsh had a video called stranger danger, it was awesome. They watched it over and over again. There are so many scenarios in which children can get lured in. The I lost my puppy can you help me is a big one. My boys would certainly want to help too. This is a great post Susan! My older boy is going to be 14, and I tell him weirdos can go for his age too just the same, your still a kid, and vulnerable.

  15. Thanks for sharing……I too have the same story only the first time I was 8 yrs old & the 2nd time was when I was in the 8th grade. Like you I was lucky that I was not abducted. My kids use to say I was paranoid when I would not them walk alone. Believe me you can not be to safe. I retired from adult corrections & the juvenile delinquent system. I know way to much about the tactics of sex offenders. I know the how & why they do it……I have had my share of nightmares of the victims that were not as lucky as I. There are great videos on line that you can show your children on how to respond to a possible predator. Take the time to show them how to scare a predator off. Be safe & always know where your children are.

  16. Kim @ Savvy Southern Style says:

    Wow, Susan how scary and you were very lucky two times. I will remember to talk to the grands as they get older.

  17. WOW! How terrifying! The tactics that are used to lure children make me sick. When my daughter was in preschool, her director told us to tell our children that adults help adults. I am a preschool teacher about to start back to school soon. I am going to be preaching stranger danger from day one!!! Thank you for sharing your stories. I am so thankful that 'the bad guys' didn't win :-)

  18. The White Farmhouse says:

    This is good information to share with kids. I always tell my kids to be aware of their surroundings too. When I was 17 and just graduated from high school, I walked to the mall about a mile from my home to apply for jobs. I was walking back home and a man stopped his car and asked if I wanted a ride since it was going to rain. I said no. About 7 blocks later, he pulled up and asked again. I turned to him and said no. I had turned to talk to him so I could get his license plate number. I was walking a bit more, saying his plate number over and over. I heard a car racing behind me and started running. He hit me with his car which I don't remember too much of. I landed on a lady's lawn and she came out screaming at him. She said he was out of the car and moving towards me. When the police came, I gave them his plate number. They found him parked down the street watching the whole thing. He was arrested and tried for attempted murder. Seems that was his "MO". He had previously been arrested for trying to get two other girls in his car, running them over when they refused and putting them in the car to take to a more private place to rape. I was extremely lucky that day. Very bruised and sore, but lucky. So I am very over protective with my own. I used to teach a self defense course to women after my experience. It was alot of after you've been grabbed tactics. I have also taught these to my kids too. Being too careful is not a bad thing!

  19. Susan, thanks for sharing. I think you are right – it was the grace of God that you didn't get in those vehicles. I think God speaks to us in ways we can understand and that voice inside reminding you not to get into a stranger's car must have been His voice. Not everyone listens and sometimes our own fears seem to drown out His voice but I am so glad you were listening!

  20. What a scary story! I am glad that you managed to escape the danger of the stranger!

  21. Anonymous says:

    My mother taught me to run into the nearest house. (Most homes were unlocked in our neihborhood. Odds are the people in the house are not dangerous and will help. At the very least if I ran into a house the potential abductor would be spooked & leave.

  22. I believe God protects us when we do not realize it. I know that experience in my own life and the lives of my children. I have a daughter going off to college and I have been talking to her about all sorts of situations that can happen. I also had to teach my children that their friends can also be the ones who offer them drugs and alcohol and not necessarily the stranger on the street corner. I worry about them but I also know they are growing up and need to step back and pray they remember my words of advice just as you did.

  23. Lizabeth says:

    Wow, I'm so glad things turned out well for you. I think being on a busy street helped a lot- I imagine most abductions take place in quiet locations where a child is most vulnerable. I never let my children go off on their own to walk somewhere by themselves. That is a common element with child abduction, they were along when abducted. We had a stranger that harassed a young girl 3 times in a short distance by driving up with his car and calling to her (saying sexually harassing things) while she was walking home from school. She was so frightened she stopped at our home for a safe place to be and called her mother to come get her. We were all shook up and everybody was on high alert. She was around 14 and more likely to be able to identify him and his car- and there was no further incidence after that. I also remember we used to wear jackets we had ironed our names on back of our jackets- a popular fad- but as we've learned in life that's a no no. Nothing like telling the bad guys your name and giving them the edge! We teach our children to have manners and be respectful so naturally a child doesn't want to hurt anyone's feelings. This is great information you are sharing and if one life is saved it's priceless!

  24. Happy Cottage Quilter says:

    Oh my goodness, Susan how scary. I am so thankful that you were wise enough to heed the words of your family – Don't get into a car with a stranger!!! 8 words that probably saved your life. TWICE!!! Thanks for sharing.

    Jocelyn @
    http://justalittlesouthernhospitality.blogspot.com

  25. What scary things that happened to you as a child! You were so lucky!

    My daughter is 16 and STILL I remind her of all things you mentioned. I even rode my bike with her on the EXACT route I wanted her to ride her bike home from school.

    You mentioned about abductors using 'help me find my dog' excuse. Well, one day when I was about 4 years old and playing in the park beside our house, a man asked me if I had seen his horse. Well, I pointed to the right, because about 5 minutes earlier a little horse had run by. (I do wonder if I would have helped him find it, if he asked)

  26. Oh Susan, that must have been sooo scary. You were, indeed, very lucky, very blessed to have survived. Had you gotten in the cars with either of those men, your story today may never have had the opportunity of being told.

    Thanks for sharing. Susan

  27. You're stories have given me goose-bumps! You defiantly have a Guardian angel watching over you!
    Happy Wednesday!
    ~Carolyn
    Cookin' for my Captain

  28. Whoa! Thank God is so right. You were a very brave little girl.

    It is so good of you to share this.

  29. Becca's Dirt says:

    Isn't it sad that there are people like that in this world who prey on others. You were a lucky young girl to have escaped two times. I know what you go thru reliving the nightmare with the reminder of a tree in the sidewalk. I have experienced similar stuff at the hands of adults as a young child. I also was the victim of violent rape by a stranger breaking into my home. I am reminded everytime I drive into town when I pass by the house where it happened. You did a good thing today sharing this and I know it will help others and remind everyone to be more attentive and prevent someone from being abducted.

  30. Jeanette says:

    Very good post. In my opinion you can't talk enough to your kids about being cautious of strangers trying to abduct them. Better warned than mourned!

  31. Tracy@GeneralSplendour says:

    Susan – your story is chilling and I am glad you were a pretty astute little girl to not fall for the evil ways of child predators. Your story brought back memories of when I was a baby. All the parents/neighbors were at the house next door between Christmas & New Years having a get together and the kids/teens were all at our house. The picture window curtains were open in the living room and the doorbell rang and my oldest sister answered it. It was a man dressed as Santa Claus and he had his hand in his bag and asked if he could come in. My sister said no but he had his foot braced against the door so she could not close it. He said he had a Christmas present "for the baby" (me). My sister slammed the door as hard as she could and called my parents who called the police. They said he must have been watching us through the window. They never found the man but thankfully my sister was as brave and smart as you. You should be very proud of yourself! Great post!

  32. Pam@OurAdventuresInHomeImprovement says:

    OMG, what a story! You were SO strong. Thank God! Thanks for sharing.

    Pam

  33. Glenda/MidSouth says:

    Wow! I got a knot in my stomach just reading this. Your story brought back memories of a couple of instances I was offered a ride, and like you thank God I knew not to get in the car with a stranger.

  34. Pamela Gordon says:

    Susan, thank you for sharing your story. It makes me wonder if after those men tried to abduct you, they actually did find another child to capture. Thanks for this important reminder. Blessings, Pamela

  35. Elizabeth says:

    OMG! I read this post and I am sick!I am so sorry for you to have to have these memories many years later, but I am also disgusted that there are these sick people out there preying on children and women! This information is vital to pass around to all parents and quite frankly to women, especially women who's husbands travel a lot and they are often alone!

    You are very brave to tell your story, I am sure that this informtaion will help someone!

    Have a wonderful day.

  36. Oh Susan! This was definitely terrifying. Thanks be to God you were spared. What a compelling glimpse of what you went through. I check in on your blog from time to time, love it! I am always intrigued by these types of stories. I guess because of how scary and true they are..one of my biggest fears I guess. I had a close friend have his wife kidnapped from her own home while her two very young small children were left in the living room. Know that I have my own little man it scares me more, but I guess that's any parent's fear. They should teach stranger danger more often in schools. Thanks for posting, and I thank God you were kept safe.

  37. Jessabells says:

    Susan, heard you loud and clear. I will be sitting down with my children today to go over the rules again. Once is never enough. Thanks so much.

    Jessica

  38. Thank you, THANK YOU for sharing this. As a mother of a 4 year old and basically co-parenting my 7 month old great niece, we need all the info we can get to keep our children safe from the scum of this world!

  39. SUSAN!…DANG!..that has given me the scariest feeling,so glad you are sharing,I beleive everything happens for a reason,and I believe by you sharing these two scary times,YOU,have helped some wonderful Mother,to speak to their children about the dangers!
    ~JO

  40. How smart you were at 7 years old. You did the right thing. You were taught right. Sad that the neighbor didn't get more involved. By the time the police got there you could have been long gone. The second attempt with several men in the car…..how scary.
    When I was 3 years old my Mom bought me the days of the week underwear……I put every pair on, nothing else and walked quite a ways down a country road, over a railroad track to the grain elevator. I walked inside where all the farmers hung out. Luckily they called my Mom. She didn't even know I was missing.
    My adopted son once got in a car with a stranger. He is challenged mentally.
    A big boy and he was chasing an ice cream truck. He was offered a ride and got in.
    After a couple of minutes he started screaming at the man and telling him to let him out that he was not allowed to go with strangers. I think he scared the bad guy. He did get out and came home. When he told us, I wanted to throw up. My husband ended up in the ER that night with an asthma/panic attack. Such a scray world.

  41. Hi Susan,

    I had a similar 'attempt' when I was a little girl…involving a strange man and candy too. So glad you shared this.
    As a Mom of teenage girls, I can tell you that there are so many predators on the internet. We had an instance where we actually called the police over a man stalking one of the girls via FB. It's a truthful shame, but there are some sick perverts out there and unfortunately you just can't afford not to let the ones you love and care for most know that though they may be few, they are out there.

    Again thanks for sharing!

    Nancy

  42. Designs By Pinky says:

    OMGoodness, you were so lucky!!!!!!!!! I think you hit it on the head: children don't want to hurt someone's feelings and they go along!!!!!!!! I bet that is a very common thing/feeling for a child! I know that childhood trama can stay with you always. But, Susan, you are who you are (the sweetest, best person) because of what you have been through. The sum total of your experiences. XO, Pinky

  43. Jeannine says:

    Thank you for sharing your story and giving a reminder. I always talked to my kids honestly about this stuff. I still worry about my daughter-she is 21 and very petite but looks maybe 15 at times. Women get kidnapped all the time as well. Always be aware of your surroundings and keep the cell phone on and charged.

  44. The Old Block House says:

    Thank you for sharing. Unfortunately, sometimes the bad guys aren't even strangers. I know this as the child I once was and as a parent. As a child, you feel that you've done something wrong. As a parent, you feel that you've failed your child.

  45. Laura Ingalls Gunn says:

    I have driven down Forsyth street many times… (I used to live in Warner Robins)

    Time and time again I have told my children the above. But I have also gone one step further. I regularly check the Phoenix Sex Offender website. It is a requirement that everyone town have one. When one moved in 3 streets over I showed my kids his picture and pointed out where he lived. To much scare? Maybe. But information is power.

  46. A Vintage Green says:

    That brings chills- thank you for sharing.

  47. Kristina says:

    So scary for you.. I too had a near abduction experence, though I was with a friend walking to our house. A car full of young guys stopped and told us to get in..we were around 7-8 years old. We hid in some bushes until another car came down the road and they drove off. My parents called the police but I don't think they were found. I was litreally 3 houses down from my house. I'm actually kind of grateful that it happened because when I was teaching I would tell my students all about it when we taught the safty curriculum. They listned much more intently to a true story, and I hope it's something that stuck in their minds. I'm very insistant about teaching our kids about strangers..the Bearenstan Bears book "Trouble with Strangers" is one I like for littles. It compares strangers to apples. That the ones that look strange can be good inside…and a good looking apple can be full of worms.

  48. Miss Jean says:

    Susan; Thank you so much for taking the time to tell us all of this. I'm sure it's not easy to relive these nightmares. My 9 year old grandson will be going to elementary school this year without his older brother as he is off to junior high. My daughter is smart enough to not want him to walk alone even though it's only two blocks. She is also not going to let the 7th grader walk and wait for the school bus. It's down the block near a park that backs a cemetery in a not so great neighborhood. I'm going to have all three of them read this post. God bless you. You may have saved a childs life today by posting this.

  49. ❁Velma❁ says:

    I'm sorry, but I don't believe in luck…you were saved by the grace of God and your guardian angel watching over you and protecting you!

    The information you share is very good and very important. I pray that everyone who reads it will share with others. I know that I will post a link on my blog about this.

    Your last sentence is the one that rings in my ear the most…
    it only takes a second for a child to go missing forever. And forever is a very, very long time.

    Thank you!

  50. FABBY'S LIVING says:

    Yes, something like you happened to me, when I was going home from Astoria Park, Queens, NY (I lived near it) and I was around 10, this man kept riding his car next to me asking me to come inside it, as I kind of got a bit close to the window, just by instinct, he had his pants down, it scared me sooo much I just ran like a deer! I got home and told my mom and never walked alone to the park, or any where else!! I still remember the incident time to time. Thank you Susan for sharing this most scary stories, look what happened to the 8 yr. old boy in NY recently! Love, FABBY

  51. kerrie of sea cottage says:

    I was almost abducted twice as a child too. And I was flashed as a teenager while waiting for a ride home at my H.S after cross country practice. Very scary. So scary that as a Mom I warned my four children in every way possible, like you have. My kids are young adult/teens now and my daughter tells me that I made her so afraid of strangers, but she understands. Now if only they would be more careful now. I still warn my daughter's because I was raped in college at a party. They seem to think they are safe though. So I pray, alot!

  52. Samantha from Colonial Curve Cottage says:

    I live next to the town where Paul Bernardo killed two beautiful young brilliant women. They were supposed to be our future. He stole that and so much innocence with him. This is an important reminder to be safe, but not live in fear. In fear, they win. Thanks for taking time to share that. It must have been hard to write those words. Your brave.

  53. Thank you for sharing your story. I have shared this on facebook. I can't believe that the men just let you walk. Praise the Lord!

    Robin

  54. Jennifer says:

    Thank you so much for posting this! Like others, your story has reminded me of an abduction attempt when I was a little girl (about 9 or 10) only my parents were right there watching. We were at the beach on vacation and my siblings and I were playing at the playground of our rental. My parents were on the balcony of our condo a few floors up watching us play. They thought the man pushing us on the swings belonged to one of the children on the playground. I just remember the uncomfortable feeling I had when he got me to the side and tried to convince me to enter his condo near the playground. All I could thing was "RUN" so I did & I didn't leave my parent's side the rest of our vacation. Now I tell my kids to always listen to their gut/intuition/Holy Spirit, if something feels wrong get away from the situation!

  55. CalypsoInTheCountry says:

    Susan,
    What a frightening story – gave me chills. Thank you for sharing it though. We all need to be reminded to tell our children these important tips over and over. It sounds like your parents did a great job with you because you remembered the right thing to do. So sorry you had to go thru that but at least you can help others from your experience. My heart breaks for those who weren't as fortunate!
    Take care,
    Shelley

  56. Robin @ Happily Home After (the fire) says:

    Susan,

    Thank you for sharing your story in the hopes that others will be helped.

    Here are a few additional words that may help children in such a situation … words they can be taught to yell if there are other adults close enough to hear …

    "THIS IS NOT MY PARENT"

    Sometimes situations could appear to others passing by as though a child and their parent are simply having a disagreement or the child is not obeying, and the passer-by decides to not intervene in another "parent's" business. The child signaling that …

    "THIS IS NOT MY PARENT"

    could certainly be a tactic to encourage others to become involved.

    And since your post will have the attention of parents and grandparents who are concerned about protecting children, I want to share that I just today posted about children, fire safety, and a potential issue with traditional smoke detectors.

    I hope it wasn't inappropriate for me to mention my post here; I'm a blogging newbie and I'm just trying to figure out how to share helpful info.

    Robin

  57. the cape on the corner says:

    i am shocked at these two stories you have shared. on main streets, with other cars and people! that is nerve, that is gaul, to attempt this (anywhere!) but especially on a main road. i'd think i'd be safest on a main road!

    i will never forget when i was first left alone-briefly-and was instructed to not let anyone in. my mom and grandmom were only to be gone a little while, and don't you know here comes someone delivering flowers? of course i let this middle aged man in, he's holding a big bouquet of flowers. thank goodness that was really his intention, but my mother was FURIOUS that i let him in since i felt bad about him out there with the flowers. like you felt bad about the man saying he was your father's friend. you were extremely lucky!

  58. Newlywed Hostess says:

    What scary stories. I am sure your parents were very scared for you after those incidents. I agree that it is paramount that parents talk to their kids about the scary world out there. It is the best defense against horrible people. God truly blessed you and your family in those incidents.

  59. As I was reading your accounting, I was actually getting chills. Those men definitely meant you harm. How smart you were. I've forwarded this post to my daughter – mother of my granddaughter. Thanks so much for sharing this.

  60. Marianne says:

    Such a scary thing for a little girl to have to go through. God was watching over you both times, you were very lucky Susan. I never let my boys go anywhere without me. I'm even worried about letting them play in the yard. It's really sad that it has to be that way but we need to constantly watch over them..
    Marianne :)

  61. Anonymous says:

    Oh Susan, how terrifying. I get so furious when I see small kids walking down the street, alone and no adult supervision.

    The other day I was in WM and 15' in front of me was a toddler, I guess about 2 or 3, all alone. I turned around to see if there was someone looking for her and there was no one. So as I was approaching the child to make sure no one did snatch her up before her parents found her, the daddy comes around the corner frantic looking for her. I told him "mister there are nuts out here who will snatch her up in a second, you need to watch her better." He didn't answer, but a few isles down I noticed he had her riding in his grocery cart.

    People are so careless and then when something happens they are wondering "why."

    My brother Michael has 2 adult children now. When they were younger they were never allowed to walk anywhere without their parents or play outside alone.

    It's unfortunate but, if parents want to keep their kids safe they need to be diligent and of course need to educate their child. Even with education though, an adult can overpower a small child with no trouble. If those men watned to they surely could have scooped you up with no difficulty. Back then however, people weren't as brazen as they are today.

    We live in sick world.

  62. Paula Jo @ Home and Garden Decor says:

    I'm so sorry to hear this has happened to you. It is a scary world out there, and I can imagine what it feels like to a child after reading this. For sure, I'm going to talk to my grandson, because I don't want anything to happen to him. Your guardian angel was with you at those times, and I'm so happy nothing happened to you. Thanks so much for sharing.

  63. thank you for sharing your story. I had a very similar experience to your second story ~ I Was able to run, and ran to a friends home. But, I for some reason was too embarrassed to tell them what happened to me. It was years before I told my mother. I think somehow I felt I must have been responsible, though how at 7 I could Possibly be responsible for a car load of men wanting me to get in is crazy. If I can add one word of advice in addition to all the other, it's to be sure to let your child know that nothing like that is ever their fault.

  64. Midwest Cottage says:

    I have not told many people about my experience because it's lurks in my memory-like you. To talk about it just brings up really bad thoughts in my mind and the "what if's" about what could have happen.

    My experience was almost identical to yours. I grew up in a pretty rough neighborhood in St. Louis city. When I was about 7 years old. I walked one block down the ally to a friends house. Bad idea.

    A man in a beige car pulled up and the asked me for directions. I walked up to the car and told him that I did not know how to explain the directions. He then told me to "get in"–I then realized (never seeing anything like this before) that he had his penis in his hand…I won'get into details but he was pleasuring himself.

    I started running as fast as I could up the ally to my backyard. I remember feeling like I needed to throw up and was so afraid…I was shaking. My mother ran to me and new that something was wrong.

    Luckily my mother educated me from a very young age to never trust a stranger and to never get in a car. Some may believe in sheltering their children from such awful topics.
    —But here is the reality—

    My best girlfriend in 4th grade was abducted from her bus stop. She was 9 years old. She was raped, beaten and thrown into the Mississipi River. This past April 2011–almost 21 years later her killer was finally sentenced to death and was killed by lethal injection.

    I agree. Talk to your kids. A lot.

  65. Scribbler says:

    Truly frightening. I was taught the same thing about strangers/cars, as well as to run up on a neighbor's porch and start yelling. This epidemic of child-snatching needs to be dealt with more harshly. I cannot imagine what our lawmakers/enforcers are thinking when they unleash them on society, where they can do it again and again. It has been well-documented that these people have a cog missing, and that they cannot be fixed. The heartache that such a tragedy as an abduction brings into a family and community is no less than that of a murder — and oftentimes the abduction culminates in murder.

    In my humble opinion, punishments should be far harsher.

    You were one lucky and smart little girl.

    Ellen

  66. Susan such a scary story. When I was a young bride my husband worked nights and someone came to the back door of our home and tried to break in after he had left for work one evening. Whoever it was knew my name and kept calling it out and asking me to open the door. I went to the front door and kept switching my porch light on and off and a neighbor saw it and came to my rescue, he went to the back door and whoever was there ran away. But the fear of being alone in my home after dark has stayed with me for 40 years….it is a little better but not much. You were a very brave and lucky little girl!

  67. In my generation, all Southern girls are taught as children to be polite and mind your elders. Sometimes this advice can be deadly. Thank goodness your sister's words came to mind.

  68. Oh, my goodness! This is so scary! You were very blessed they just didn't reach out and grab you. Especially the man who got out of his car! This is proof of answered prayers we mothers offer up for our children's safety. I have chill bumps. I agree, I think lots went on when we were children, we just didn't have the media telling about it all the time.
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  69. Tardevil says:

    So scary. Glad you were smart enough to avoid being taken. This is such a timely post for me b/c I was leaving Wal-mart Monday night around 9:45, and was parked in the 1st space 1 row over from the 'food' entrance, and noticed this man had gone from squatting beside the door of the lady's car parked in front of me (while I returned my cart), to sitting inside the driver's seat with her. As I was backing out as I flipped my suv lights on, which shined into the eye level of their small car, I saw they were fighting/wrestling over something, and he was pushing her down into the passenger's seat. I did not know if it was a gun, her keys, a cell phone, etc. When I got to the top of the parking lot and saw that I wasn't being followed, I called 9-1-1. I can't get it out of my head wondering if it was an attempted kidnapping or just domestic violence and if they got to her in time. Either way, I didn't expect to be a witness to something like that in the 1st space of a parking lot near a main entrance. You just ALWAYS have to be aware of your surroundings, at all times, day or night. So thankful my children weren't with me and thankful you survived.

  70. Susan you were a very smart, brave little girl and so lucky that harm did not come to you. I imagine there were as many bad people when we were young as there are now but as you stated, media coverage is so much more now than back then. It is sad that we have to be on guard constantly with our little ones but we do. We have 13 grandchildren from under one year old to 15 years old. I worry and I pray that our lives are never touched by the horrors I read about almost daily. We can NEVER stop being on guard or teaching our children about safety.

    Thank you for sharing your story and for the tips. I will link your story to my blog.

  71. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for sharing this with us all. Let me say that I am thankful that you were smart and obeyed your parents.
    When I was a young teen walking home through my neighborhood my dad stopped to give me a ride BUT he was driving a new car. When the neighbors saw me about to get into that strange car an elderly man came out of a house and started yelling. My dad stepped out of the car–so everyone knew it was OK–but we were all thankful that our neighbor cared enough to do that.
    If I ever see anything like that happening it won't go down on my watch. I'd rather make a fool of myself or make a small mistake as opposed to an even bigger one, like letting a girl drive off in a strange car or with a stranger.
    I'm telling all my young ones those 8 important words!

  72. Smocking with Gwen says:

    Susan,
    Thank you for sharing this. I am terrified because we try to tell our grandchildren just this warning. What really scares me is that Emma at 5 1/2, tells us she can "hit the bad man and run away really fast." Her 11 year old brother doesn't seem to understand the warning either. My daughter is always stressed about keeping the kids safe..especially with her husband in Afghanistan. We need to REALLY step-up the seriousness in talking to the kids.

  73. vignette design says:

    Thank you for sharing your story Susan. It is so scary, and you are so lucky that you didn't become another victim. Although, I can only imagine how you must feel about it–even after all these years.
    Jaycee Dugard was not so lucky. Her abduction happened here–I remember it well. Everyone had given up on her. I saw the Diane Sawyer interview and was amazed by how she has survived.
    Thank you for posting this. It took a lot of courage and you also helped to remind us all the dangers out there for our children and grandchildren. ~Delores

  74. Sewconsult says:

    So glad that you are here to tell us these stories. Sorry that you have had to relive them.
    Beckie

  75. Rosemary@villabarnes says:

    Thanks for sharing your story. My heart breaks every time I hear of another incident. I'm sure I was like a broken record with my sons, and every other little one in ear shot about safety. So glad you did not become another statistic.
    Blessings,
    Rosemary

  76. …my two boys (now 33 and 38)were given code words…they were never never never to go with anyone who did not know the code word…and they were to never tell anyone the code word…my older son mentioned the other day the code word…i don't know what made him think of it after all these years…but it was still there in his memory of his childhood…this could be your most important blog…thank you for sharing…

  77. Mary @ Redo 101 says:

    Reading this has made me feel physically sick. I am terrified for my children, and my son doesn't listen, at 12 he just leaves and wanders around the neighorhood … sometimes out of the neighborhood. I'm going to read this to him. I am so thankful you were safe, but you're right, so many aren't. I immediately think of Jaycee Dugard, but there are many others who were never found or weren't as spotlighted.

    Hugs,
    Mary

  78. Karin Şen Cankan says:

    Firstly thank God nothing happened you are truly blessed, I wish all kids and not just kids all people who have seen a bad time be as lucky as you.

    When I was growing up my grandma use to say in her prayers to all of us saying please God dont show bad hour bad days bad times and bad people to noone, at that time I didnt understand much, but now that I have a child myself, I do this saying prayer every second I am alone.

    As you know I grew in LA until college and my parents always warned me about the The Stranger and the bad people and the candy man and my parents use to say inside the house is Turkey outside the house is America so we have to be very carfeul and during school and study times I remeber our pricipals and teachers always warned us too as bad things did happen.

    But nowadays I'm in Istanbul and 39 years old and have daughter at the age of 5 I have so many worries you cant imagine, and my mom did not have this much worry because it was not safe then and it is not safe now but we know too much of everything from every single details from the news, TV, paper or the internet I'm not sure if its a could thing or not but since Talya was born I have so much things in my mind I have very little sleep and it gets worser everyday I do keep being positive and pray but people are being more bad everyday.

    When I read your story and thank you for sharing I stopped reading until my husband got home and left the computer as I couldnt go on reading without him as I got so feared like watching a movie, you hear and read about it but when its someone you know its not bearable, I am so sorry to hear you went twice with this situation God Bless you and your family always your a very brave lady.

    Lots and lots of love,
    Karin Şen Cankan
    karinsfairytale.blogspot.com

  79. I think what you said, Susan, is right that it has always happened it's just that the media is better now. I would say they are never too big or there wouldn't be so many missing teenagers, college kids and women. If the force is enough, the abduction can still happen. So glad your two incidents turned out well!!

  80. Oh Susan, I am so glad you were smart and lucky enough to get away. My sister had too near abduction too in Mennesota and she was 17 years old. Both times, she got away. One of them held a knife at her and told her not to shout or he would kill her. She figured he would kill her anyway if she went with him so he screamed the loudest scream that she was capable of and footsteps of a man came to her rescue. The abductor fled. There are really so many crazy people out there and we have to be aware of them and let our kids and grandkids know….Christine

  81. Susan you are so right by the grace of God. It is a wonderful reminder to all of us to remind the little ones in our lives. we live in a scary world that is for sure. Kathysue

  82. Good heavens Susan, I have a headache from reading your story and those of your readers too! I just took a BC so I could comment. Thank goodness you listened to your "gut" and didn't get in those cars. Your reaction is exactly what happens to children-the fear paralyzes them. I hope parents talk to their kids about that overwhelming fear and how to keep moving.

    I also hope that parents don't just talk about MEN who try to take children. When I was in 7th grade a WOMAN drove up beside me when I was walking home from school. She told me she had been watching me walk home everyday and would take me right home because she felt sorry for me having to walk. Talk about being in shock and the scary thing, I got IN. As we pulled off it was if I woke up and told her I needed to get out, a car pulled out in front of her at the corner and I jumped out of the car and RAN the rest of the way home. I often wondered why I got in her car because I knew better. I had been told all my life not to talk to strangers, not to get in a car, etc. I never saw that lady again. I also walked home a different way!

  83. you are so lucky and blessed that nothing bad happened to you. When I was about that age, a man stopped me and tried to get me to come with him and show me where someplace was, I too remembered those words never get in a car with a stranger!! Scary thing is, it happened to my sister, by her biological father. It doesnt have to be by a stranger! The NCMEC is an amazing organization!!! they helped us so much when the local police didnt! Great post thanks for sharing your story

  84. On Crooked Creek says:

    Susan,
    I believe in "the grace of God" that you were sparred! May God continue to bless you by sharing this valuable information with others! You continue to bless my life in wonderful ways, dear friend!
    Fondly,
    Pat

  85. once in a blue moon says:

    totally creeped out reading this, thank god is right you escaped them… i kept thinking you were sharing from a novel and its not the kind of story i ever want to read :(

  86. I am paralyzed right now…as soon as I start breathing I will talk to my children again about strangers

  87. The moment I saw the title of this post, I wanted to read it. This is my first chance. What a powerful and frightening set of stories. It is made even more personal to me since both of my daughters went (go) to college in Macon, and my older one lived on Forsyth Street/Vineville last summer so it's a very familiar area.

    Thank you so much for sharing your stories. Thank God they were "near" abductions. This is such an important topic!

  88. Susan, thank you so much for sharing your experience. It touched me so deeply! I am so thankful that God protected you, and that it prompted me to pray for those who were/are not as fortunate…may God protect them also, and comfort their families! God bless you!
    Cathy

  89. I am So Shocked at the number of women commenting that had similar situations! My stomach is in knots!

    To add something…We all need to remember that the predator can also be a trusted family member! I know this all too well!

  90. Ivy and Elephants says:

    Wow, thanks so much for sharing your story! I have a three year old and one day he will be out of my sight even if it is a fleeting moment. A fleeting moment is all it takes. These are the times we live in. But the good thing about these times is that we have forums such as this to share, educate, and support each other in our endeavors to keep children safe.

    Paula

  91. Bless your heart! How frightening!
    My children and now my grandchildren know the "code word"..if someone doesn't know the code word..they are not to go with the person. We told them that the chance of something happening where someone they did not know would pick them up was practically non-existent..but,just in case..that person would know the code word.
    the world is such a big,scary place!

  92. after your update I went back and read every comment. all i can say is wow. thanks for sharing your story. my kids are 3 and 6 and it reminded me to talk to them about strangers much more often! i had an experience when i ws a teenager. my mom and i were driving down a road one night and a man in a car behind us ran into the back of us 4 times! i remember yelling to my mom, "Pull over!!" she was like no way! she drove to where my dad was and the guy turned and went another way. i often wandering if he was trying to get us to pull over and what would have happened to us!

  93. Christine H. says:

    Thanks for posting this. It's so sad that kids can't have the freedom to run around and play without worrying that adults might hurt them.

  94. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for sharing your story. We also have to remember to not sit back if we see something that isn't right. Earlier this year my mom was at the grocery store when she saw a woman slapping a little boy inside her truck. She went over there and started banging on the window and the woman opened the door and told her to f off. But my mom got out her phone and started recording and asked the boy if that was his mom and he said no and was screaming. The woman threw the boy out of the truck and sped off! Turns out it was his dads ex who was stalking him and tried to kidnap him!! Even women can be abductors and I can't imagine what would've happened if my mom would've just "minded her own business".

  95. I see lots of comments and they all seem lucky people. Not so for me no, I wasn't abducted but what happen to me by a family friend is awful and at 61 years old is always on my mind!! I told my daughter about it when she was growing up and my grand daughter who is going to be a teenager in a few weeks needs to be aware too.It is a sad world when really you feel you cannot trust anyone.Jackie in Surrey UK.

  96. Oh Susan – how wonderful that you listened to your parents about strangers. I remember watching an Oprah program where they filmed children who opened doors to strangers. She then showed the tape to the parents. They were horrified, since they all had told their children over and over never to do such a thing. It sometimes takes just one small mistake. Growing up, my children thought I was over-protective, but now I am so glad that I was! I did not know you grew up in Macon, where I now live. I am very familiar with Forsyth Street.

  97. Susan, this was a powerful post and one which has many people thinking and talking (again) to their children. One comment stays in my mind–you may have saved a life by posting this. It may have been a direct response to Grace. Thank you. Hard telling….

  98. Anonymous says:

    Oh my, your story gave me chills. I had a similar experience when I was young. Educating our kids and promoting awareness and safety is the key to preventing this from happening. Thanks for sharing your story.

  99. Cass @ That Old House says:

    Holy moly, Susan, this must have been a hard post for your to write.
    You were one smart and savvy little girl, and thank goodness for that — you were also very lucky that those men didn't just use force. Nightmare stuff.

    We need to all be vigilant, and remind one another of dangers. When my daughter had been living in Los Angeles for a few months, she called me one day from her car. She was sitting outside a Starbucks near her campus, and we chatted — and then she screamed and her phone went dead.

    I could not get her back on the phone — and those were the most terrifying moments of my life. I wondered if that was the last time I would hear her voice.

    She eventually called back. A man had reached in thru her open passenger window and began to open the door to get in her car. Somehow she screamed loudly enough, and grabbed the door handle and pulled it away from him — that he backed off and she sped away.

    She was 23, should have known better than to sit on an LA street with open windows — but we all have lapses, and that's when the bad guys see their opportunities.

    thank goodness you have only bad memories of these encounters –while that is bad enough, it could have been so much worse. Here in NY, just recently, a little boy got into a stranger's car when he got lost in his Brooklyn neighborhood — and he did not survive that encounter. There are monsters among us.

    Thanks for the reminder.

    Cass

  100. Anonymous says:

    Sometimes the "bad guy " is your own father, in my case my step father. My Mother always kept him at arms length from me which I didn't understand when I was growing up. She died when I was 19 and that same step father attempted to be sexual with me. I neither forgot nor forgave. He is now dead and my life is good. I'm so glad your parents drummed it into you, it surely saved your life.

  101. This rattles me to the bone. My biggest fear is my daughter wont make it home from the bus someday. I pray nightly for her protection. Thanks for the hints.

  102. Michele Smith says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. How very scary.
    This has encouraged me to have this talk with my son once again, just to be sure he knows!
    Thank you
    Michele

  103. Anonymous says:

    This happened to me when I was 8 also. I was with three other little girls walking home. The man knew the name of one of my neighbors and told me that he was trying to find my neighbor's house. He was asking for help. As I got closer and closer to his car, I finally saw that he was exposing himself. I had no idea what I was seeing. I started to scream and run. My friends followed.

    Be sure to never put names on things like backpacks! Young children often think if you know their name, you can't be a stranger.

  104. Gloria (The Little Red House with the White Porch) says:

    God, Susan! TWICE??!! You are SOOOO lucky. Lord, your mother was probably a nervous wreck every time you went out after that. Although, as you say, years ago we never even thought the worst, like we KNOW now-a-days. I always told my son never to get in a car or go with anyone, even if the person has a gun. I said to him: "Run away, IN A ZIG-ZAG PATTERN, it will make it harder for the bad person to shoot you if he DOES decide to shoot!" And I made him practice!! I would rather my son be a little scared of this happening and be aware of what to do, rather than to go along blindly, on his merry way. I even keep this advice for myself if anyone ever tried to pull me into a car! I'd rather be shot on the spot and found, rather than be taken away and shot anyway and my son never finding me and never knowing what happened to me. Please keep this in mind for yourself too, OK?? Well, thanks for sharing your story. I'm sure a lot of Moms reading your blog out there got some good tips and a reminder to talk to their kids about this! Grandmothers should talk to the kids too. I know that I will be a PEST when I have grandkids, making them practice running in a zig-zag all over the place!! :)
    Best,
    Gloria

  105. MySweetCreations says:

    As a 22 year old woman, someone with bad intent stalked me and nearly came into my home while living downtown in a big city. Long story made short, I was able to slam and dead bolt my door not a second too soon and get away. To this day I don't know if the intent was murder, rape, abduction, but what I do know is it was one of the above and ill. Thank you for sharing your stories. We always carry pepper spray with us at all times.

  106. So sorry for your experiences, but thanks for bringing it back to everyone's attention. Couple of things I haven't read here that are also worth passing along:

    1) Even if someone appears to have a gun NEVER do what they say. I don't think that's made clear often enough. It's highly unlikely they are going to try to shoot a child running away. They motive isn't to kill (at least not yet) and they don't want to bring attention to themselves. That poor boy in Missouri who was around 12 and the man had a gun and told him to get in the truck. I often wonder if he'd just run whether the man really would have fired at him. Also, I've read, even if for some strange reason they try to shoot at you, chances are they won't hit or kill you. Run zig zag away from them. It's hard to hit a moving target.

    2) Run the opposite direction the vehicle is headed. That way they can't drive along behind you and try to grab you.

    3) Also, the minute a vehicle slows down start running the opposite direction. Don't even attempt to find out if it is legit or not. Am adult NEVER needs help from a child, especially not today with evey device/vehicle being equipped with GPS.

    I think the message is ANY adult stranger who approaches a child is up to no good. A sensible adult understands not to approach children who are routinely taught not to talk to strangers. I purposely don't do it ever for any reason because I don't want kids to think "oh well, that lady was nice so not all strangers are bad" and then begin to let their guard down around other strangers. It's sad we can't be a bit more tender but I think keeping kids in a state of suspicion about strangers is better for their safety than giving them a little reassurance that "oh, it's never going to happen to me because many strange adults have been nice to me."

    Hope your post keeps many, many children safe.

  107. Vintage Rose says:

    How brave of you to share your story of not just one but two attempts of abduction. I can't imagine the fear that must have halted you in your steps there as a little girl. Angel's had to be at your side. Thank you for reminding us to talk to our children and grandchildren and our young adults to be aware and observant and never to talk to strangers.

  108. Great advice. It isn't just little kids who need to be reminded about strangers. Two years ago, a man attempted to get a 7th grade boy into a car as the kid walked home from the school where I teach. The kid kept telling the man no, but the man kept trying to talk him into getting into the car. Two older boys saw what was going on, crossed the street, confronted the man and took a photo of the license plate with a cell phone. The man sped away and the kids called the police. The man in the car was a convicted sex offender living in a near by town. Kids of all ages need to be aware of strangers. As they get older, they sometimes think they can take care of themselves.

  109. Michele/Ohio says:

    Susan,

    How very very brave of you to share this.

    Thank you so much, and this is an amazing post.

    WOW.

    Thank GOD you are still with us, because that is just plain beyond scary.

    Sincere respect and admiration,

    Michele/Ohio

  110. Susan (Between Naps on the Porch) says:

    Thanks, Michele. You are a sweetheart. I just knew I had to share this after I saw that show. So important to make sure our children know what to do if approached. It's sad that we have to even discuss these things with them…but we have to in today's world.

  111. Sexual predators are all around us. If a family acquaintance or friend takes a sudden interest in your child, don't assume it's because they love children. That hard lesson was taught to me at the age of 5. Then later at 40, as a friend and I were traveling, we made a pit stop at a convenience store. A car followed us out of the parking lot and stayed very close for many miles. When we were on a particularly deserted stretch of road, the car with several young men in it pulled along side us. As they pointed to our rear tire they shouted to us that we had a flat. My friend started to pull over, and I told her that if she would not stop, I would buy her a new tire and wheel and pay for any repair work on the car if there was indeed a flat. She didn't stop, and we didn't have a flat.

  112. Anonymous says:

    From Georgia

    Susan, thank you for sharing your stories. The Lord was truly by your side and protecting you.
    I also have a near abduction story. When I was three, I was in the back part of our yard digging in the gravel with my shovel and bucket in front of our garage. An old car came up the alley and stopped just past our garage out of sight with the motor running. I remember that but paid no more attention to the car. I was sitting down in the gravel digging with my shovel when I heard footsteps on the gravel approaching me. I looked up startled to see what looked like an old woman dressed completely in black including a hat and black veil over her face! She was coming close to me bending forward with her arm outstretched. She said, "Come here baby". In a flash, gravel flying out from under my feet, I ran to our back door! I opened it and ran downstairs to the basement shouting for my Mom. She was there doing the laundry and came right away to see what was the matter. I told her about the old woman in black, and I remember clinging to her skirt as we went upstairs. We went got outside, we saw that this woman had followed me all the way up to the back door! My Mother asked her in accented English, "What do you want here?" She just asked, "Is this your baby?" My Mother answered, "Yes, what do you want here"? The woman in black didn't answer and just left. We always wondered if this person was really a man. What we knew for sure was that the Lord had saved me that day.

  113. Pamela Joan says:

    Susan-thanks for your stories. I am glad you are here to share them. I am 61 years old and have two similar stories: I was 5 y.o. walking back from kindergarten and a man in a dark car opened the passenger door and told me he had candy and to get in the car. I remembered my mom telling me "if you ever get in the car with a stranger you will never see me or Daddy again." I screamed and fled across the street, up my steps, fell and broke my new front tooth-but got in the door ok. and time a man pulled up to the school line where I was walking with one of the "police boys" who led the line. He asked if I'd like a ride home.. (probably 1955 or '56). THe police boy yelled at him that I couldn't leave the line and the man drove off. Some people today may think that what my mom told me is to strong, however, she got the point across and it should "scare" one away from ever getting into a car with any stranger.

  114. Thank you Susan for sharing your story. I know this comment is days late but just in case I would like to share my story in case anyone else reads and can beware of this ploy. I was 7 or 8 & in NY for the summer with my father. Some friends and I, 5 or 6 of us were playing outside in the courtyard of our house. A man came and said he was working for a radio show and wanted to play a game with us and whoever won would get a prize and be on the radio. He asked us a couple of questions which we all answered then declared I had won. He said I would have to come into the vestibule of our building to collect my prize. Long story short, once inside he started to molest me. I said no and started screaming and he ran off. We were all old enough to beware of strangers but I believe because we were all together we felt safe and that he was the real deal. Please talk to your children about being cautious even when they are with others or in a group as well as when they are alone and not to let their guard down just because they are not alone. Thank you again for such an important post.

  115. Susan (Between Naps on the Porch) says:

    Kathy, I'm so glad you shared that story. Amazing the stuff the bad guys can think up to lure children. So glad you got away!

  116. Susan, I've had this post open all day, reading each comment at various times as I went about my chores. Chilling encounters & some wonderful advice shared by everyone.

    I'm sorry that you went through such frightening experiences & that they still haunt you to this day. I fully understand, too. I'm glad that God was watching over you both times & that you have shared your stories, so that others may be more aware.

    I caution Ms. C. all the time but not so much the older boys. I will now, you can believe! I feel their parents are waaaaay too complacent just because they live in a very "safe" & upscale neighborhood. Their Dad recently suggested I let the 9 yr. old & the 6 yr. old walk up to their neighborhood swimming pool by themselves just because he didn't want to come get them! Needless to say, I DROVE them there. I need to caution my DD & her husband all over again about keeping closer tabs on the kids.

    Thank you SO VERY MUCH for starting this discussion. I wish I could give you a real {{HUG}} right now.

    fondly,
    Rett

  117. Gosh, two times that is really scary as it also happened to myself as a child of around 6, just before we moved from the UK to live in New Zealand.

    There was a park behind our house and my dad had made a gap in the fence so I could go through with my friends and play. This particular day my friend and I were playing in the park, in those days it seemed safe, abductions were not really heard of in the UK but as a 6 year old I really didnt know much about these things except never to go with strangers.

    I was with my friend walking and a man came over to us, seeming really friendly and told us his dog had just had puppies and he was looking for homes for them he simply asked if we wanted to go and see them. Both my friend and I really wanted to go and didn't feel suspicious, he looked kind and of course he must be nice if he has puppies. However, our parents words must have been looming in our heads "Dont ever go with strangers". We both said sorry we couldn't go and then Gillians big brother (age 9) suddenly turned shouting we were in trouble for wandering off from what was meant to be our play area near my garden fence. The man just turned and walked quickly away.

    We never told our parents about this incident, we didn't even tell Gillian's brother Jeff as I think we actually believed he had puppies but we never forgot it. Meeting up as adults only 5 years ago after 30 odd years we both remembered that day and now realise that had we gone to see those puppies, one of us or both of us may not be here today.

    It is so important to tell our children the dangers and the "tricks" of words these terrible people use.

    I am shocked at the number of replies of such similar incidents. It makes you realise that there are probably men out there "predators" as they are called that may not yet have abducted that child, but still trying.

    Lee

  118. Reading this sent chills down my spine. I had a very good friend in high school who was abducted walking home with her younger sister from the movies. We were freshmen that year. Last November it was 50 years ago.

    A deer hunter found her body the next morning. Her sister still lives in fear. They had a memorial and walked the route last November in memory of Nancy. I do not live in that area any more but wished I could have been there.

    This happened in small town where nothing like that would ever happen. Doors were left unlocked and us kids came and went when ever. Sure was a shock to the comunity.

    Oh I might add they never have found who did it and the case is still opened.

    You can not tell kids enough about not going with strangers and like you I told my girls every excuse I ever heard. You can never be too safe.

    Karan

  119. It's not just stranger danger. I taught my daughter all about that. Abductors can be someone your child knows, loves and trusts. We found this out the hard way.

    When she was 7 years old she was abducted by our 52 year old neighbour. She had been at his home and played with his granddaughter many times over the years. My daughter's favourite movie was The Lion King. Call me fatalistic, but I always thought if someone actually abducted her I would probably lose her, so I always taught her to be like Simba and claw their face hard. In my eyes, if I couldn't save her then I'd make sure there was DNA evidence under her nails to get whoever did it.

    Well, at the point where he was about to rape her she did claw savagely at his face, and in his astonishment he let go just for a moment and she bolted. He had blood running down his face when the police went to pick him up, and he was packing his bag ready to go to prison – he knew he was going down for it.

    The police told me that only 1 child in 100 fight back because children are taught to obey their elders. I had always encouraged my girl to be strong minded and it probably saved her life.

    She is 22 years old now, and still has emotional issues and cannot commit to relationships because of the neighbour whom she trusted and who then destroyed her trust. She is currently receiving more counselling.

    I usually leave my name when I post comments, but I will be anonymous today for obvious reasons.

  120. Susan (Between Naps on the Porch) says:

    Anonymous, thank you for sharing that info about what happened to your daughter. I'm sooo glad you taught her to fight back. That was brilliant! We need to all do that…because if they don't fight back, they are in real trouble. I'm so sorry she is still having to deal with the effects of that awful experience. Will say a prayer for her right now.

  121. As a mother of three beautiful children, this is the biggest nightmere I can imagine. It is overwhelmingly sad and scary to know this kind of horrific thing happens. To be honest, sometimes it makes me "frozen" where I feel like I don't even want to go to the park and I wonder how I can ever not worry about their safety. All I want to do is keep these little lovelies safe. I want their world to be happy and safe and give them nothing but absolute joy. The fear of abduction keeps me up many nights..

  122. the thing is, our little people don't understand evil – and that is what drives the horrible people who hurt children… thank you for having this difficult and painful discussion – it is so important.

  123. Crafty Dayeseye says:

    Anonymous, YOU ARE RIGHT ON!

    I wish I could stand on a mountain top with the biggest megaphone around and scream that stranger danger is real, but even MORE real is acquaintance and trusted person Danger!

    For most the public the “default setting” still seems to be stranger abduction. To them child molesters are sick perverts or “predators” who physically overpower children and violently
    force them into sexual activity.

    abductors and molesters are "the people that you meet
    When you're walking down the street
    They're the people that you meet each day."

    Acquaintance: friend's older sibling or parent, co-worker, a friend of the child's parents, the list goes on and on.

    Trusted Person:Teacher, pastor, boy scout leader, parent, uncle, cousin, sibling, camp counselor, again, on and on.

    One of the unfortunate outcomes of society’s preference for a “stranger-danger” concept of victimization is how it prohibits the impact on the prevention of the sexual exploitation of children by acquaintances.

    I'm about to step off my soap-box, I promise.

    I am sorry this happened to you not once, but twice, and to so many other children.

    But parents, please educate your children and EMPOWER them to talk to you, say no, and do whatever it takes to stay safe in EVERY situation. 93% of people are assaulted by someone they know.

    And parents, if you are unsure of what to do if someone you know is hurting children, here is a handy resource. http://rcasa.wordpress.com/2011/11/20/rcasa-volunteer-corner-22/

    Thanks you for bringing up and frankly discussing this topic, we need to be less afraid of hurting someone's feelings by saying NO, and more aware, and proactive by knowing the facts!

    Off Soap box.

  124. Jill Soghomonian says:

    I remember choosing a secret password with my children, so that if they were to be picked up by a friend, the friend would have to use the special word to be sure that it was ok to go with them. Also, I just never allowed them outside without me- If they were outdoors, so was mom or dad. As they grew into teenagers, we lessened the grip-Thank God they made it through their childhood safely. I cannot imagine it any other way. We’re very blessed.

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