Confronted by a robber in her home early Wednesday, a 25-year-old Town 'N Country woman used the only weapon she had to defend herself: her psychology training.
In minutes, she calmed the teenage intruder and offered him lunch as she listened to his problems. After he left, she called authorities.
The woman, whose name is being withheld because her attacker has not been caught, said she was scared when she saw a weapon under his shirt.
"My heart stopped," she said. "I was completely panic-stricken, and when they tell you your whole life flashes in front of you, they are right."
The woman believes her attacker is a 15-year-old boy who has been hanging around her neighborhood.
He entered her home in the Countryway subdivision through an open garage door and confronted her in a hallway just after 8:30 a.m., sheriff's officials said. She screamed, and the pair struggled.
Then the woman, who has a master's degree in psychology and teaches stress management and suicide prevention classes, told the boy in a calm voice that his heart was racing, and he must be scared. He said he was and then sprayed Her with a deodorant can he had under his shirt. The woman did not budge.
The teen told her he had been living in the woods, that he had been suspended from school, and he hadn't eaten in two days. He gave her a fake name and a bad phone number.
"The kid was a good actor," she said. "I know everything he did was a complete joke, but I was smart enough to play his game."
The woman, who works in Palm Harbor, said she would not give him money but offered him a meal of baked chicken. He took off his cap and ate lunch. She gave him utensils hoping his fingerprints would help authorities with an arrest. She told him if he returned, she would shoot him.
When he left, she broke down and cried. Her friends and family said she was crazy. "I did what comes naturally to me," the woman said, "and that is talking to people and crisis resolution."
_ SUSAN CLARY