It’s one of the most terrifying things we can imagine: A stranger is in the house. We all ask ourselves what we would do in this situation. But for these women, the answer became more than just a hypothetical.
Using quick thinking and sometimes very creative weaponry, these women surprised their attackers by fighting back. From new mothers to mothers-to-be, the very old to the very young, they protected not only their homes but their own lives—and in some cases, the lives of their families.
10 Semantha Bunce
On the morning of November 3, 2015, in Charlotte, North Carolina, 21-year-old mother Semantha Bunce was breastfeeding her newborn son, Bentley, when someone started ringing her doorbell. At first, she ignored it. But when the ringing became more insistent, she got up to investigate. That’s when two armed intruders broke down her door.
She ran to put the baby in his crib and grabbed her husband’s gun. When she opened her bedroom door, one intruder was standing there. A gunfight ensued. They shot her once between the ribs and once in the arm.
After she started firing back at them, they fled. “All I was doing was trying not to die,” Bunce recounted of the incident. Four days after the attack, one intruder, Reco Latur Dawkins Jr., turned himself in.
As a combat medic for the National Guard Army Reserve, Bunce received the NCNG Soldier and Airman Medal in March 2017. Her bravery likely not only saved her life but also that of her infant son.
9 Unnamed 52-Year-Old Woman
On April 29, 2017, in Kingsport, Tennessee, an unnamed 52-year-old woman responded to a knock on her door. There, she found a young woman who claimed to be looking for her lost dog. Once the resident had fully opened the door, a man stepped into view wearing a mask. At first, he tried to pull the older woman outside. But when that didn’t work, he pushed her farther in and announced that this was a robbery.
As they struggled, the woman was able to remove his mask enough to recognize the young man as Joe Sotello, a “longtime family friend.” When she saw that he had a gun, she immediately grabbed a nearby baseball bat and began to fight him off with it. Hearing the commotion, two younger women in the house, both 18, rushed to help her.
Eventually, they managed to get him out the door, where he ultimately fled. But he didn’t get far. While police were responding to the incident at the first house, they were notified that Sotello had accosted members of the same family at another residence.
He was apprehended and charged with aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary. His accomplice, the young woman with the “lost dog,” later turned herself in. She cited fear of Sotello as the reason behind her involvement.
In the end, they weren’t able to steal anything from the 52-year-old’s home, despite her being only 150 centimeters (4’11”) and weighing 45 kilograms (100 lb) less than Sotello.
8 Pregnant San Antonio Woman
A 37-weeks-pregnant woman, who preferred to remain anonymous following the incident, fought off a burglar with her bare hands on the night of November 13, 2016. Upon waking and noticing him rummaging through her things, she pretended to be asleep.
Thinking he had left, she got out of bed. But he suddenly reappeared, aiming a gun at her. When he pointed the gun at her belly, she lunged for the weapon and they struggled.
At one point, the burglar shot at her dog (don’t worry, he missed), which left a nasty burn on the woman’s left hand. Eventually, she managed to calm down the burglar by offering to help him carry her own belongings out of the house.
Two days later, De Vonjae Smoots was arrested for aggravated robbery and the woman was able to identify him in a police lineup. In the end, he didn’t get away with it. Due to her fight response, the woman, her dog, and her unborn child lived through the ordeal.
7 Dawn Cain
At approximately 2:50 AM on March 15, 2017, Australian Dawn Cain, 65, heard noises coming from the front of her house. When she moved the curtains aside, a man turned and shone a flashlight at her.
She screamed, “Get out of my house!” and armed herself with a pair of scissors. As she leaped up, making sure to put on her glasses, he tried to shut the screen door. They struggled on either side of the door before it finally came right off.
Then the intruder ran to the front door, and she gave chase. Once the intruder was through the front door, he turned and threw a laptop bag (housing said laptop) at her. She fell, and he attacked her.
After a few punches, he fled and hopped her fence. As she didn’t give up without a fight, Cain survived the ordeal and her possessions stayed right where they belonged!
6 Sherione Johnson
In Midwest City, Oklahoma, in 2016, Sherione Johnson was cooking Christmas Eve dinner for her family when William Jefferson entered her home and demanded the keys to her car. He pointed a gun at her and her eight grandchildren. Then he counted off the order in which he would shoot them.
“All the time, I was thinking, ‘If he points at one of my grandkids to shoot them, I’m going to jump in front of the bullet if I can,’ ” said Johnson, describing her thoughts in the moment.
When Jefferson moved farther into the house to enter the garage, Johnson took the opportunity to grab her shotgun. She held him there until her children returned home and “whipped him up real good.”
5 Natalie Williamson
On May 17 2017, Oklahoma mother Natalie Williamson discovered Kenneth Williams hanging from a bedroom window in an attempt to enter the home. Her young daughter was actually the first to notice the man after he initially tossed his backpack in through the window.
As she described later, this was particularly disturbing to Williamson: “That’s scary. [ . . . ] My baby was there.” She rushed him with a crutch and started hitting him in the face.
Still, he persisted. Her next try was a vacuum from the hallway. She started beating at his face with that. Even then, he kept trying to gain entry. So as a last resort, she punched him with everything she had and he finally fell back out of the window.
After all that, he had the audacity to request that she meet him at her front door to return his backpack and that she not call the police. Instead of the backpack, she met him with a butcher knife. She chased him into the waiting arms of her neighbors, who held him on the curb until police arrived. Williams may have been persistent, but he messed with the wrong mama bear that day.
4 Kayla Tamburello
At 150 centimeters (4’11”) and about 45 kilograms (100 lb), Kayla Tamburello, a young mother of two, is not exactly intimidating. That’s probably what this intruder thought when she opened her door to greet him as he advertised lawn care services on October 11, 2016. When she politely declined, he turned as if to leave. Then he turned again and shoved at the door.
For a moment, she managed to keep him from opening the door all the way, but then he gave a great push with both hands. The door swung open, knocking her to the ground. Luckily, there happened to be a large, T-shaped, metal tool sitting by the door. “We had this tool that we use to turn our water off at the meter,” Tamburello explained later.
She swung the tool at him, striking him in the shoulder, and he stumbled back. Then she hit him square on the jaw with it, and he fled the house. As soon as he was completely through the door, she slammed it behind him and locked it. Incredibly, her one-year-old son, Sammy, slept peacefully through the entire fight.
3 Lillie McClendon
On the morning of July 6, 2014, Texas native Lillie McClendon, an 83-year-old woman with a whopping 37 grandchildren, had just taken a shower and was starting a load of laundry when she noticed an open window and some household items out of place.
It was only 4:30 AM. McClendon had awakened early to prepare for a big family barbecue later that day. Working away in the kitchen, she heard strange noises coming from her bedroom. When she opened her bedroom door, a man stood on the other side with one of her late husband’s shirts wrapped around the lower half of his face. He began to choke her, demanding to know where she kept her money.
But McClendon was not taking such treatment lying down. When the struggle shifted to the kitchen, she grabbed a pot of boiling water from the stove and threw it at him. When that didn’t work, she started hitting him with a broomstick.
By fighting back with whatever she had on hand, McClendon was able to chase off the intruder and keep all her belongings from being stolen. Now we understand where “Don’t Mess With Texas” came from.
2 Jordi Rouiller And Caprice Taylor
As a young, work-at-home professional, Jordi Rouiller had just settled in to start her workday on the morning of June 2, 2017, in Redding, California, when she discovered a man looking in through the back sliding glass door of her house.
When he noticed her watching him, he lunged for the door and rushed in. Rouiller didn’t even pause in surprise. She simply jumped up and rammed her shoulder into his midsection to push him back through the door.
What followed was a desperate fight to keep him from reentering her home. Rouiller describes the incident: “I ran in to fight. It didn’t matter what happened to me. It was about protecting my family.”
He started punching and slapping at her as she struggled to close the door on him. “So I just held on for dear life and just took the punches as they came,” she recounted further. She ended up breaking a knuckle and middle finger punching him back.
Eventually, she screamed for her mother, Caprice Taylor, who was sleeping in a nearby bedroom. Taylor leaped into action, grabbing none other than her youngest daughter’s katana, and charged the door.
As soon as the would-be burglar saw the sight of the older woman barreling down on him with an actual sword, he fled. As Taylor said, “All I could think of was, ‘I was going to kill this guy to get him off her.’ ” The heart of a warrior must run in the family.
1 The Little Kung Fu Master
At around 4:00 AM on the night of July 10, 2016, an eight-year-old girl in El Cajon, California, woke up to find herself outside the room she shares with her six-year-old brother. She was, in fact, in someone’s arms. A strange man was carrying her down the stairs, and a terrifying realization dawned on her: She was being kidnapped.
The little girl could have screamed. She could have frozen in fear. But apparently, she’s made of sterner stuff, judging by what she actually did. She struck him with a kung fu punch in the neck.
She had recently learned a move in class known as the “Cheetah Paw,” in which you curl your fingers, put your thumb by the side of your hand, and punch with your knuckles.
Evidently, it was just enough to stun him because he dropped her and fled. Thanks to her quick thinking, she saved herself and likely her baby brother as well. She can also safely be given the most Badass Little Girl award.
Robyn Watkins is a Canadian freelance writer. She is driven toward dark, creepy, or just plain weird stories. When offline, she writes and directs for her indie film company, Fruit Cellar Media. Visit her at www.fruitcellarmedia.com.