Mugged at Knifepoint

Crop disappointed young ethnic female with dark hair in casual clothes grabbing head with hands and looking down while sitting against white wall at home
Type: Case Studies
Originally published on February 16, 2023 and last updated on May 8, 2023


Case studies, like the one below about a woman called Alice, provide real-life examples of situations that individuals may encounter and allow students to explore the topic in depth, while also providing an opportunity to practice their language skills.

The discussion topics from this case study will cover areas such as traumatic experiences, anxiety, PTSD symptoms, coping mechanisms, and regaining independence. Students will practice their language skills through critical thinking, analyzing the situation from different perspectives, and discussing their opinions on how to support individuals who have experienced trauma.

Ask your students to read the following case study, or listen as you read it to them. When finished go through the conversation questions with them. Try and get them to use approprate language to give their opinion and offer advice

Alice’s Story

Once a confident and independent woman, Alice now finds herself too scared to go out alone after a traumatic experience. It all started one night when she was walking home from work. Suddenly, a stranger jumped out from an alleyway, brandishing a knife and demanding that she hand over her purse. Alice froze, unable to process what was happening. The stranger became more agitated, yelling at her to hurry up. Finally, she handed over her purse, and the stranger ran away.

Alice was physically unharmed, but the emotional scars ran deep. She began suffering from panic attacks, nightmares, and insomnia. She became fearful of leaving her apartment and would only venture out with a friend or family member.

Even simple tasks like grocery shopping became overwhelming for her. She would spend hours deciding what to wear, making sure that she was covered up and inconspicuous. When she was finally outside, she would constantly scan the area for any potential threats, and her heart would race at the slightest unexpected sound.

Alice’s relationships suffered as well. She would often cancel plans at the last minute, unable to leave her apartment, and would become easily agitated or irritable when pushed out of her comfort zone.

Conversation Questions

My Image
  • How do you think you would feel if you were in her position?
  • Have you ever experienced a similar trauma or know someone who has?
  • If you were a friend or family member of Alice, what advice would you offer her to cope with her anxiety and PTSD symptoms?
  • How do you think society can better support victims of violent crimes like mugging?
  • Have you ever had to deal with a situation where you felt unsafe or afraid? How did you cope with it?
  • What steps do you think Alice can take to regain her independence and overcome her fear of going out alone?
  • Should more be done to prevent violent crimes like muggings, or is it ultimately the individual's responsibility to protect themselves?
  • Is it fair to expect victims of trauma to "bounce back" from their experiences, or should they be allowed to take as much time as they need to heal and recover?
  • Should individuals who have experienced trauma be encouraged to confront their fears and regain their independence, or is it okay for them to avoid situations that make them uncomfortable?
This conversation topic was prepared by Gregory

Gregory is a qualified TEFL teacher who has been teaching English as a Foreign Language (ESL) for over a decade. He has taught in-person classes in Spain and to English learners around the world online.