burglar1About four years ago, when I was 23 years old, I had all sense of security and privacy suddenly ripped away by three armed men who broke into my house while I was sleeping. I woke up to a noise at the front gate, as if someone had hit it. I sat up and kept listening but I didn’t hear anything else. Even so, I had a knot in my stomach and couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong. The thought that someone had broken in crossed my mind but I tried to dismiss it, telling myself that I had thought that same thing many times before. That’s when I heard someone break the back door.

I grabbed my cell phone and all at once I had a million thoughts in my head. First and foremost, I wished I had a gun. Knowing that I couldn’t change that now, I tried to find a realistic solution. I thought about going out through the front door but knew I had dead-bolted, chained and locked it which meant a lot of time to get it open. The kitchen door was always locked and I didn’t know where the key was. All the windows had bars. I knew I was trapped inside my own house with someone unsavory. Escape was not an option so I had to go to plan B. Where could I hide? I’m sure they watch movies; the first places they’ll look are under the bed and in the closet so that only left me one place: the kitchen. After all, there isn’t much to steal in a kitchen, right?

burglar2As quietly as I could, I moved to my bedroom door and looked up to where I knew there was an intruder. I didn’t see anyone. I seized the opportunity and moved across the hall to the kitchen. Once in there, I grabbed the biggest knife I saw and started to get under the kitchen table when I saw him. He was short and stocky, wearing a colorful clown wig, white t-shirt and jeans, and he was holding an ice pick in his right hand. I knew what my options were. I remember thinking it was worth a shot to maybe even try and fight, after all, how did I know that he would leave me alone if I cooperated? But then I heard more voices coming from upstairs and I knew my odds weren’t looking good. I put the knife down and handed him my cell phone. He asked me who I had called and I just told him I hadn’t had time to make any calls; told him to check the call log if he wanted to. He took me out to the living room and sat me down on the couch as the other two men walked down the stairs. They started asking me where the money was and I kept telling them I had no idea what they were talking about; that I didn’t have any money. After a while they got tired of asking and started tearing the house up. All I could do was pray; pray and stay calm.

burglarIt took them a while but finally they realized I was looking at them, trying as discretely as I could to memorize their every feature. They took me into my bedroom and tied my feet to the bed. They asked me if anyone else lived there and I knew exactly what they were thinking. So I lied. I told them that I lived with my parents, but they had gone to a party and I didn’t know what time they would be getting back. When they were out of questions they covered my face with a pillow case, and with a gun to my face they told me to sit still and wait ten minutes before
I untied myself. They left my room, closing the door behind them and I could hear nothing except for the tic-toc of my alarm clock. Not knowing what else to do, I counted off the seconds and after counting the longest fifteen minutes of my life I uncovered my face, unsure what I would find.

As quietly and calmly as I could, I untied myself and went to the door. I was terrified of opening the door to find them still there, so I stood behind the door trying futilely to hear anything. Finally, I decided there was only one way to find out, so I opened the door and asked if anyone was there… no answer. Slowly, I came out and saw that they were finally gone…the nightmare was over.

It was the worst experience I have ever had, and even though I fortunately came out unscathed, I decided I would not allow myself to be defenseless again. I became proficient with firearms, got my concealed handgun permit, and in an attempt to help others avoid becoming a victim, became a firearms instructor. When people don’t understand the purpose of having a gun for self defense, I simply compare it to having homeowner’s or renter’s insurance. Everyone has it, most people never use it; but the day a hurricane hits, and you need it, you’re really glad you had it.

– Daniela Johnson


Next week: “No Longer Defenseless”

Learn how I developed the mindset and acquired the skills to avoid being a victim for a second time.