How To Stop an Armed Rapist
by Robert Waters
("...Say, 'I know you're upset.'
Compassion is the answer. They are human beings and want the same things I do.
Try to be compassionate with them and relate to them." Jessica Flag, of the
eighty thousand Million Mom March.)
Maria Pittaras awoke with a strange man lying on top of her. The digital clock
by her bed read: "2 a.m., August 9, 2000."
In a gutteral voice, the man said, "Cooperate and you won't get hurt."
It came to her in a flash. She'd heard that voice before. It's not a friend, she
thought, nor even an acquaintance. But she'd met the man somewhere.
In the dim light, she saw that her assailant wore a mask. When the intruder
pressed the blade of a knife against her throat, Pittaras began to
Until now, the pretty chemist who worked at Bausch and Lomb had felt safe inside
her suburban home near Land O' Lakes, Florida. In fact, that's the reason she'd
spent the extra money to buy in this upscale neighborhood. Her neighbors seemed
nice enough, though Pittaras spent most of her time working and hadn't really
gotten to know many people.
The man was breathing hard. For a moment she wished she'd kept the pistol her
father had given her. But she knew guns were dangerous and had thrown it away.
Her best friend had taught her about the evils of firearms and how to fend off
an attack without resorting to force. Her friend had attended the recent Million
Moms March in DC, and had come back with loads of ideas and theories about
Pittaras, still lying beneath her assailant, quaked in fear. But her friend's
words kept coming back to her. Be kind to your attacker. Don't make him angry.
Make him personalize you.
"I know you're angry," she croaked.
The man laughed and slapped her face. The sting of the blow stunned her.
"You gonna do what I say?"
"Good," he said. "I'm gonna get off you and I want you to take
off your gown."
"Please don't take your anger out on me," she said.
The intruder stood over her. He didn't respond--it was like she'd never even
"Take it off," he snapped.
Pittaras sat up and pulled off her gown.
Now that her eyes were accustomed to the light, she could see that his mask was
made of nylon mesh.
Time for Plan B, she thought. Maybe using psychology will work.
"You're an attractive man," she said. "You don't need to rape
"You know me?"
Oh God, she thought. I said the wrong thing. What next?
The man suddenly punched her and she crumpled back onto the bed.
"So you know me, huh?"
"Noo-oo-oo. I just said that..."
"Trying to jive me, huh?"
He hit her again, and her head rang.
The man peeled off his mask. She recognized him now. He was a neighbor who had a
wife and children. She'd been introduced to him once when she'd first moved in.
"You know you just signed your death warrant, bitch!"
Now Pittaras was so frightened she was shaking. It was obvious that her friend's
advice wasn't working. She was going to die.
She saw the knife flash toward her, and she screamed.
Pain shot through her.
As she drifted away, her last thought was of her father's tears dripping like
rain on a dull gray casket.
Fortunately, the story didn't end that way!
Maria Pittaras kept her gun.
When Robert J. Metz broke through a window and entered her home, she was ready
As he attempted to rape her, Pittaras reached into a nightstand, picked up her
pistol, and shot the man dead.
After the shooting, her father, Spiros Pittaras, said, "I gave her the gun
for protection...Anyone, especially women, should understand why she had to do
what she did."
Unfortunately, the gun-banners would rather have Maria Pittaras raped and
murdered than have access to the best means of protection available.
Sorry, Mr. Pittaras.
No, they don't understand.
the real account of how a gun came in handy for this woman, in her own bedroom.
Mr. Waters is the author of The
Best Defense: True Stories of Intended Victims Who Defended Themselves with a