13-year-old girl who escaped Florida abduction attempt speaks out

POMPANO BEACH, FLA (WABC) -- A 13-year-old girl who escaped from a stranger in an attempted abduction that was caught on camera is speaking out about her terrifying ordeal, and her book bag may have played a big part in saving her life.

The incident happened in Pompano Beach, Florida, where police are still looking for the suspect.

"I just knew my instinct was to run away and scream," said the victim, whose identity is being withheld. "The first days it happened, I didn't want to go outside. I was scared."

Surveillance video showed the teen running, looking back at times at the driver of the tan SUV who tried to grab her. She says she was walking in front of her high school when the driver stopped and asked her where she was headed. She ignored the stranger, but she says he turned around, parked, and before she knew it, he grabbed her from behind.

Luckily, her heavy book bag was in the way and prevented him from getting a good grip.

"He grabbed me around my waist and locked his fingers," she said. "I was pulling, like pulling his wrists, away from each other. And that's when I guess he gave up, and I kept running. And he went back to his car."

She ran to a relative's house, where her aunt was waiting. The teen was in tears.

"She fought for her life, and she beat him," the aunt said. "Now all we have to do is catch him."

Deputies are searching for the car and following leads. They say the young woman was brave, finding a strength even she didn't know she had.

Experts say more than 80 percent of children who escape an attempted abduction do something proactive.

"What she did was exactly the right thing," expert Callahan Walsh said. "The kicking, screaming, yelling, anything that she can do to draw attention to that situation so she can get away. This girl saved her own life."

In 2013, an 8-year-old girl bit her would-be kidnapper and got away, with grainy surveillance video capturing her running to get her parents. And just last year, a Connecticut teen who accepted a ride from an abductor later jumped out of that moving car, landing on the asphalt.

"Children are taught to be polite to elders and that's not always the best course of action," Walsh said. "Parents need to teach kids that's it's OK to say no."

In addition, experts say that children need to:
--Check with their parents first before they get in anyone's car.
--Use the buddy system. Have them walk home with a friend.
--Always tell a trusted adult about any encounters.
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