CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – No one deserves to be victimized and it’s not your fault if you are a victim.

However, there are some things you can do to help protect yourself against potential offenders.

“One of the things you have to do is you have to take out the opportunity for someone to make you victim,” said Clarksville Police PIO Jim Knoll. Knoll has also taught self-defense for over a decade. “Parking lots in particular are a breeding ground for trouble.”

News 2 met Knoll in a parking lot because he says it’s great place for suspects to find their victims.

“They’re wide open and people can approach you from so many different places,” he said. “You’ve got cars all over the place. Someone can come out from behind one of those vehicles.”

Knoll says he often seens people walking out of stores looking down at their phones. That’s safety mistake #1.

“They’re texting while they’re walking out in lots and they’re not paying attention,” Knoll said. “From the time you get in the lot or come out of the store start looking around, look what’s going on.”

Another safety mistake Knoll says is ignoring your gut. That’s mistake #2.

“Listen to your instincts and if something doesn’t feel right respond to it,” Knoll told News 2. “One of the biggest things that get us in trouble is that we feel something’s wrong but we won’t listen to it. You can never be overly cautious.”

Lastly, according to Knoll many people don’t have a safety plan in place if they are approached or even attacked.

“If you don’t have a plan what your plan ends up being is panic,” he said. “Think of not ‘if’ but ‘when’ it happens. You need to have your keys ready, you need to at least have an arm free to defend yourself or push away and get them off of you.”

Knoll teaches self-defense class for free through the Clarksville Police Department.

If you’re interested in hosting or attending a class contact Knoll directly at jim.knoll@cityofclarksville.com or call his office at 931-648-0656, ext 5673.