By Jim Armstrong, WBZ-TV

CAMBRIDGE (CBS) – Like a lot of people who live in this quiet Cambridge neighborhood, the young woman who told police she was nearly attacked has a dog. In her case, it’s a five month old puppy who at 3:40 Friday morning had to go outside.

She walked him to the grassy area just steps from her front door at the Harvard-affiliated housing complex called Holden Green.

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The woman, who asked WBZ to protect her identity, “looked up to see a green minivan with a silver bumper. And I listened to my instinct which was, I had a nasty feeling in my stomach, and turned as fast as I could and walked as fast as I could back to my apartment building.”

She glanced back for a split second, she says, as she reached her door.

“I got up the steps and stopped in time to turn around and see a man running full-force at me,” she explained, adding that she managed to unlock the door and slam it shut just in time.

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“I got up to the first landing in time to turn around and see him throw the full weight of himself against the door and smack it with his fist, which was terrifying,” she says.

By Friday afternoon, Harvard had sent warning emails to neighbors. One woman walking past the Holden Green facility told WBZ, “I have friends who live here, who I work with, so it made me nervous for them and their families, and for me because I walk by here everyday.”

But the woman who narrowly escaped thinks being a bit nervous might be useful.

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“Be vigilant, especially young women walking around at night,” she advises. “You think you’re safe in Cambridge and you’re not.”