On an early September morning Kristen Trowbridge learned firsthand the danger a woman faces when walking alone downtown.
Trowbridge, a junior nutrition and food science major, was walking home from a bar in Old Town just before 1 a.m. on Remington Street. Alone and intoxicated, she was charged by a man who tried to snatch her purse.
"It was probably pretty obvious I was drunk," Trowbridge said. "I wasn't in the best of states."
In the subsequent struggle to save her purse, Trowbridge said she pounded her perpetrator on the back of the head. The man recoiled and seemed to accidentally strike her face.
"He came in under me and started tugging on my purse. I started hitting him on his head and he retaliated and swung back at me," she said.
Trowbridge believes the suspect, who was wearing no shoes at the time of the attack, to be a homeless man seeking money with no intentions to harm.
Soon after the attack, Trowbridge's face began to bruise and her eye started to swell shut. Home was just four blocks from the incident, but when Trowbridge got there she was stunned and didn't know what to do.
"I got home and was just angry. I was looking at my face and I could barely open up my eye," she said.
The next morning, Trowbridge told herself she was okay. It wasn't until co-workers saw the side of her black-and-blue face that she was urged to call police.
Trowbridge filed a report three days later and got photos taken by Officer Brian Ivers of Fort Collins Police Services for evidence. Chances dwindle of catching the suspect as more time passes after the incident, Ivers said.
"If someone sees weakness, they will take advantage of weakness," Ivers said.
No matter the degree of the incident, Ivers stressed that Trowbridge should have called police right away so the suspect could be caught. He also said crucial tactics in protecting her safety that night were lacking, but applauds Trowbridge's courage to fight off her perpetrator.
"Just have a plan," Ivers said. "The best way to take care of yourself and be responsible, is knowing your situation."
Ivers' advice: Always have someone to walk home with, try getting a safe ride, carry a cell phone and if walking is the only option for getting home, stay in well-lit areas.
"Other than the fact I am a police officer, I do not think I would be walking around downtown by myself," he said.
Ivers said Fort Collins is a safe place to live, but mugging instances can occur, so men and women need to have some kind of alert when in vulnerable situations.
Weeks later, Trowbridge has no visible signs she was attacked. Today, she said she is on a miniature crusade to bring awareness that violent crimes can happen to anybody and likely won't walk home alone again.