A fast-thinking woman thwarted a would-be rapist?by biting off a piece of his tongue. In January, Adele Barber, a 29-year-old woman in Great Britain, was walking home after a doctor’s appointment when a man assaulted her.
Ferdinand Manila pounced on Barber in an alleyway, forcing himself on her. When the man shoved his tongue into her mouth, she fought back by chomping down on his tongue and then ran with the piece of his tongue still in her mouth. At home, she phoned the police?who advised her to store the chunk of tongue?in a sterile pot. She did this, and the tongue was used as evidence in the case. Manila was located shortly afterward and was later found guilty on three counts of sexual assault.
Barber managed to subdue and injure her attacker as well as secure evidence against the assailant. During an interview she shared:
“I thought, right, this left him vulnerable… I was just going to bite down as hard as I can, it will show it’s not consensual in any way, shape or form, get as much DNA as I can and try and cause enough pain to get this guy off me.”
This is not the first time a rapist has received a well-deserved injury to their tongue. A similar case occurred in 2011 in South Africa, although in that case the assailant did perpetrate a rape. Near Carolina, a woman who was hitchhiking was pummeled by a man who then raped her, and when he tried to kiss her she bit off a sizable section of his tongue. He reeled back and tried to grab her, and she bit off the little finger of his right hand. In this case the victim did not take away the bodily parts for evidence. In Brooklyn in 2014 a woman fought off a rapist by biting his arm, after which he fled. And in Russia in 2012, a woman working at a sauna was raped, but she bit off the man’s genital and he was arrested shortly afterward.
In these cases the women displayed bravery, quick thinking and common sense. Would the typical crime victim do such a thing? In general, people find biting parts of the body in this fashion to be disgusting. But it is an effective and shocking method of striking back at one’s assailant, as well as a way to secure something with DNA of the attacker.
As someone who has studied martial arts and self-defense, and also taught classes to women and girls, I applaud what these two women did. There are other ways to fight off an attacker and also grab evidence. Among the handier ways to fight off an assailant, or at least stun one momentarily, are using one or two fingers to jab the criminal in the eyes. Head-butting is also a good, quick way to do this, although you must be willing to put up with the pain on your end as well. If the attacker comes in close, the victim can bite the nose or ear. Deep scratching across the face can inflict pain on the attacker and also help the victim rip off some skin that will provide DNA for law enforcement.
Should victims fight back? There are many ways to do so, and in many cases I believe it is worth trying something. Screaming, biting, spitting, jabbing…these are all ways to assert yourself. Even if the assailant presents or threatens you with a gun, you can fight back. If the victim gets in close, a gun is much less effective.
Once while on vacation, I was with a group of women, and some men chatted with us. A very tall guy tried to kiss me, and without even thinking, I poked him hard in one eye with two of my fingers. He groaned and staggered back. One woman congratulated me for my fast-thinking but another scolded me. I told her off! The guy did not try anything else on me or the other women.
In a perfect or better world, we would not have to deal with assailants trying to inflict abuse or rape. We must teach (or threaten) everyone that sexual assault is absolutely wrong. However, we should also teach people how to protect themselves.