How to survive a home invasion

In early June, a woman was home with her son at her apartment in the county when two men with a gun came looking for her boyfriend. They forced their way in, assaulted her, tied her up along with her son, and put them in the bathtub while they robbed the place.

It’s the kind of harrowing story that gets one wondering: What would I do if someone forced their way into my house?

Lisa Speidel has taught self-defense classes using the R.A.D., or Rape Aggression Defense curriculum, in the Charlottesville area for 14 years. She declines to name a specific course of action when there’s an armed perp in your house. “The ultimate goal is to learn as many different options as possible for any different kind of situation,” Speidel says. “We could never say this is what you absolutely should do.”

But Speidel does recommend practicing “positive visualization,” or staying aware of the resources that are available in any given moment. This could mean anything from grabbing a nearby lamp to hit the attacker, remaining quiet and sneakily dialing 911 or, a popular option Speidel has used in her class, “go for the eyes.”

Other expert advice on what to do in a home invasion can also be inconclusive. According to an article provided by Albemarle police community relations, from, “there is no one single correct response to a life-threatening home-invasion scenario.” For instance, fighting or screaming can work if neighbors are around to call police; then again, it can also aggravate an attacker.

The experts do agree on one thing: Don’t let the attacker transfer you to a second crime scene. The second scenario is almost always more violent, and your chances of survival diminish.

C-VILLE welcomes news tips from readers. Send them to