Keep your guard up.

Be aware of your surroundings.

Those are usual suggestions that you hear about navigating the mean streets of Philadelphia and elsewhere. But a 25-year-old shooting victim who nearly lost her life last month during a robbery wants me to put them out there again as a reminder to women to be on guard.

She’s speaking out because she doesn’t want anyone else to experience the horror she has gone through. I’ll refer to her by her middle name, “Renee,” to protect her identity because her assailant is still at large. Brace yourself because the details are disturbing.

Two days after Christmas, Renee left her apartment around 10 p.m. to make a purchase near the 4700 block of Greene Street in Germantown. On her way back, a man emerged from a Cadillac Escalade and asked to use her cell phone. After she told him that it was dead, he asked if he could charge his phone in her house, which she declined to do. Then, she noticed the gun pointed at her back. The assailant demanded that she give him everything. But all she had on her was $1, a phone, a charger, and her house keys. Next, he asked, “How many people are in your house?”

Since her 3-year-old and boyfriend were waiting in her apartment, Renee walked to a neighbor’s with the gunman following closely and pretended to try to use her keys to enter. She could sense his growing impatience, so she pleaded, “Please don’t kill me. My son’s dad just got killed in May. I’m all my son’s got.” Instead of having compassion for the single mother begging for her life, the gunman responded, “You are about to be right with him.” As he pointed his gun at her face, she reached to push it away and the gun went off, a bullet striking her in the nose.

» READ MORE: In Philly, most armed robbers remain beyond the long arm of the law

“When I fell flat on my face, he was still shooting me. He shot me three more times in my back,” Renee recalled, adding that she lay still as if she were dead. “He started running off. I looked up after a few seconds to make sure he was gone. And I ran to my apartment.”

The police arrived quickly and took her to Albert Einstein Medical Center, where she was admitted in critical condition and placed in a medically induced coma. Renee is lucky to be alive. Miraculously, none of the four bullets hit any major organs. She was released from the hospital on Jan. 4.

Philadelphia police haven’t made any arrests in her case, and her assailant remains at large. Anyone with any information should contact 215-686-TIPS.

Meanwhile, Renee, traumatized by what happened, wakes up in the middle of the night reliving the shooting. She still has all four bullets inside her body and wears a back brace because of her fractured spine. She is on a soft food diet because of the damage caused when a bullet traveled through her nose and lodged near her left ear. Most likely, Renee will need plastic surgery. She created a GoFundMe account to help with expenses such as relocating.

“I never thought this would happen to me,” Renee told me last week. “I never thought that someone would shoot me for no reason. I know for sure that he didn’t get anything from me, so he had to do more that night. He didn’t stop there.”

It’s terrifying that a monster like that is still at large. Chances are he will never be brought to justice. According to a 2019 Inquirer article, arrests were made in slightly less than 25% of all armed robberies.

That’s why what Renee is doing is so important.

She’s reminding us that we need to stay vigilant. Keep your guard up. Be aware of your surroundings. Like Renee, you might not think that you would ever be the victim of an armed robbery. No one does until it happens.