The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program defines aggravated assault as an unlawful attack by one person upon another for the purpose of inflicting severe or aggravated bodily injury. The UCR Program further specifies that this type of assault is usually accompanied by the use of a weapon or by other means likely to produce death or great bodily harm. Attempted aggravated assault that involves the display of—or threat to use—a gun, knife, or other weapon is included in this crime category because serious personal injury would likely result if the assault were completed. When aggravated assault and larceny-theft occur together, the offense falls under the category of robbery. In addition, individuals can become victim to simple assault. Simple assaults are attempted assaults where no weapon was used or no serious or aggravated injury resulted to the victim. Stalking, intimidation, coercion, and hazing are included. Regardless, both aggravated and simple assaults are serious crimes.
The amount of assaults in the United States has ranged over a variety of years. For the most updated statistics, visit the FBI’s Crime Statistics page. Statistics can be browsed from the national level to the city level.
While becoming a victim of crime is never the fault of the victim, the following list of practices may help safeguard individuals from becoming victims of assault:
- If possible, don’t walk alone during late-night hours. Walk in groups whenever you can—there is always safety in numbers.
- Let a family member or friend know your destination and your estimated time of arrival or return. That way, the police can be notified as quickly as possible if there is a problem.
- Stay in well-lit areas as much as possible. Avoid alleys, vacant lots, wooded areas, and other short-cuts or secluded areas. They are usually not well-lit or heavily traveled.
- Walk on the sidewalk whenever possible. Walk close to the curb, avoiding doorways, bushes, and other potential hiding places.
- If you have to walk in the street, walk facing traffic. A person walking with traffic can be followed, forced into a car, and abducted more easily than a person walking against traffic.
- Walk confidently, directly, and at a steady pace. Don’t stop to talk to strangers.
- Wear clothing and shoes that give you freedom of movement. And don’t burden yourself with too many packages or items.
- Always be aware of your surroundings. If you are wearing headphones, don’t turn up the volume so high that you cannot hear outside noises.
- Never hitchhike or accept rides from strangers.
- Report any suspicious activity or person immediately to the Metropolitan Police Department at 9-1-1
- Avoid carrying large sums of cash, or displaying expensive jewelry in public.
- Before entering your vehicle, check for offenders hiding in the back seat or on the floor.
- When driving, always park in well-lit places and lock your doors.
- If harassed or assaulted, scream and attempt to run for safety.
- Know your neighborhood. Identify police and fire stations, libraries, schools – as well as the hours of operation of local stores and restaurants.
While these steps may do more to protect victims of assault by strangers, some are applicable to those assaulted by non-strangers. Finally, whether it is a stranger or non-stranger assault, it is important to report the incident to local law enforcement immediately. Crime prevention and awareness, as well as consistent reporting, may be the strongest defenses against becoming the victim of an assault.
1. “Aggravated Assault .” The Federal Bureau Of Investigation. FBI, n.d. Web. 16 July 2013. <http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2010/crime-in-the-u.s.-2010/violent-crime/aggravatedassaultmain>.
2. “Metropolitan Police Department .” The District of Columbia . N.p., n.d. Web. 16 July 2013. <http://mpdc.dc.gov/page/guarding-against-robbery-and-assault>.