On February 15, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in Tampa, Florida, shared a distressing video of a woman fighting off a sexual assault. Despite the unsettling footage, the message accompanying it is one of empowerment for women: “Keep fighting.”
Alma’s escape video has become a viral sensation on Twitter, with over 5 million views.
Nashali Alma, aged 24, was exercising alone in the gym at her apartment complex on January 22, 2023, when she noticed a man standing outside the front door. Despite her reservations, she allowed him in and resumed her workout, only to find him approaching her aggressively a few minutes later.
“As soon as he was approaching me, I pushed him. I said, ‘Bro, what the F are you doing? Get away from me, stop trying to touch me,’” Alma said in the video. “He started chasing me around the bench, and we ended up on the other side of the gym.”
A woman shares her experience after fighting off a man who physically assaulted her in her apartment complex’s gym.— HCSO (@HCSOSheriff) February 15, 2023
Nashali Alma wanted to speak out about her experience to encourage other women who’ve dealt with similar incidents to speak out. pic.twitter.com/hyTeO3quRA
Xavier Thomas-Jones, 25, allegedly attacked Alma and a fight broke out. Although he managed to get her to the ground, Alma refused to give up and fought back using all four of her limbs to kick, grab and punch Thomas-Jones. Eventually, he relented, and Alma made a quick escape to a nearby apartment where she called 911.
Law enforcement took Thomas-Jones into custody within a day, and he now faces charges of sexual battery, false imprisonment, and kidnapping.
“I was disgusted by the suspect’s actions, how he preyed on this young woman,” Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a press release. “This woman’s strength, courage, and determination are inspiring. I know that her bravery to share this story will impact the lives of many other women.”
Alma credits her tenacity for her successful escape and encourages women in similar situations to do the same.
Alma’s advice to every woman would be to never give up and to keep fighting. She believes that as long as a woman fights back and demonstrates her strength and determination to not give up, it is possible to escape from the situation.
“It’s better to reach out to law enforcement sooner than later,” she continued. “The sooner they have the information, the sooner they can catch that person.”
The Joplin Police Department in Montana commends Alma for her actions and considers them appropriate. The department advises that in case of a rape attack, fighting back should be done quickly and effectively by targeting the eyes or groin of the attacker. It’s also crucial to make noise to discourage the attacker and to try to escape, scream, and be assertive.
The fact that women have to offer each other words of encouragement to survive a possible sexual assault is a somber reality. Nevertheless, it’s crucial for women like Alma to share their experiences to aid those who might encounter similar situations. It’s commendable that the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office shared the video, creating awareness on how to prevent a possible attack and initiating a conversation about women’s safety.