Faced with the Threat of Rape
“RAPE: Most Rapidly Increasing Crime.” That was the title of an article that appeared in one of America’s leading women’s magazines in the summer of 1973.
There can be no question about the accuracy of that statement. New York city saw an almost 40-percent increase in 1972 over 1971. Seattle, Washington, has witnessed a 400-percent increase since 1963. And such are the figures in spite of the fact that, according to conservative estimates, 75 to 80 percent of rapes are not reported to the police.
Rape is illicit sexual intercourse without the consent of the woman and is effected by force. Many times it results in venereal disease, unwanted pregnancy or in physical life-long injury. Moreover, it has been said that “psychologically, rape is the most traumatic of crimes against women, and for many victims, the police investigation that follows is even more shattering”—no doubt one reason why more rapes are not reported to the police. “It stands first on the list of crimes a woman fears and last on the list of crimes a victim wants to talk about,” says one report, and it is “never forgotten by the women involved.” As one New York City police official expressed it: “You have to be a woman to understand the shock a rape victim has experienced.”—Time, April 23, 1973.
What can a woman do when faced with a rapist? Deputy Superintendent J. M. Jordan of the Boston Police Department stated that “a long, loud scream” can be the woman’s best weapon. An article telling women how to ward off such attacks concluded with similar advice: “The technique is simply to surprise your attacker so that you can run away; try to ward off, not incite, a fight to the finish. And scream, scream, scream as loud as you can.”—McCall’s magazine, July 1973.
Scream! Scream! Scream! Is that good advice? It certainly is. Just how good this advice is can be seen from what happened on November 12, 1973, in one of Brooklyn’s largest hotels.
Threatened with Rape
The rapist was a well-dressed man. He had the physique of a football player, being well over six feet tall and weighing about 250 pounds. He took the elevator to the tenth floor of the hotel and there began to molest a middle-aged woman tenant, who managed to escape his clutches by screaming. She at once called the police, who came but were unable to locate him in the building, he having fled to lower floors.
On the second floor he saw two fine young women housekeepers who asked him if they could help him. “Yes, you can,” he said, and, pulling out a gun, ordered them into one of the rooms, upon which he double-locked the door. He assured them that they would not get hurt so long as they did not make any noise. He said that he needed a place to hide until things cooled off downstairs and that he would keep them there for an hour.
These two young women happened to be Christian ministers and they began to make conversation so as to release the tension. One of them asked him if they could read while they were waiting. He said Yes, and so she took a Bible study aid that was in reach, handed another to the other woman and started a Bible discussion on the subject of how long Noah had preached before the flood came, it being a subject that had come up the day before in her Christian field ministry. She noted that it must have been about forty years, but the man thought it had been about 200 years. From that discussion they went on to such subjects as the name of God, Jehovah, and the kingdom for which Jesus taught his followers to pray. They also told him that they were Christian witnesses of Jehovah and about the high standards of conduct the Witnesses have. The two women were not particularly frightened, for it seemed much like a typical Bible discussion that these girls often had, especially as the man kept expressing his own opinions on these subjects.
But after about forty-five minutes things suddenly took a disquieting turn. He looked at his watch and said that he would have to tie them up so as to give him time to get away. Although they assured him that it was not necessary, he ordered one of them to sit on the floor in a closet, upon which he tied her feet with a necktie, and her hands behind her back. He then turned off the light in the closet and closed the door. He ordered the other into the bathroom but then changed his mind and, warning her not to scream or yell, he reached for the zipper on her blouse. She exclaimed: “No! No! Not that!” and told him that if he touched her she would scream as he had never heard anyone scream before and that if he was going to shoot he might as well go ahead and shoot because if she did not scream she would be as good as dead anyhow.
She told him that marriage was honorable before God and that she was married, but that what he wanted to do was not honorable. Also, that if she did not scream she would ruin her relationship with Jehovah God and the Christian congregation; that then she would be disfellowshiped or excommunicated from it and that this would be worse than being killed as far as she was concerned. He looked puzzled. He did not understand and so asked her to repeat what she had said, which she did, scared and shaking though she was. As she later explained: “The situation sickened me and the mere thought of it all was so disgusting that I knew what I had to do.” After all of this he again tried to put his arms around her, upon which she moved away, saying, “Don’t you touch me or come near me.”
This calls to mind a statement made by the Dallas, Texas, police department, namely, that “a woman’s best defenses” are, among other things, “her wits” and “a scream.”
Yes, this young woman in the Brooklyn hotel used her wits by courageously using her knowledge of the Bible, thereby diverting the would-be rapist from his evil intent. As a result, he pursued the matter no further with these two women but left after first ordering them not to leave the room for fifteen minutes.
Frustrated a second time, this rapist was not giving up. Coming out into the hallway, he saw another fine young woman and began engaging her in conversation, asking where the elevators were, the nature of the rooms on the floor, and so forth. Suddenly he moved close to her and tried to push her into one of the rooms the door of which was open.
What could she do? He was every bit a foot taller than she was and weighed at least twice as much. She did what the Bible indicates a young woman should do: she screamed, louder than she had ever screamed before. (Deut. 22:23-27) This was wholly unexpected by the rapist. Startled, he ran down the steps at the end of the hallway.
As the three young women told their story at the police station, their hearers, increasing from three to eight men and two policewomen, marveled at what they heard. They could not get over it that two of these young women had talked about the Bible to a would-be rapist. One of the women officers asked for more information about the beliefs of Jehovah’s witnesses and stated that if more women took such a determined and firm stand there would be fewer such crimes.
Why the Increase?
The foregoing experience in a Brooklyn hotel last November is but one instance of this social crime that is increasing on every hand. And that increase is very real. As the editor of America’s Campus Law Enforcement Journal said about this increase: “It’s not just a question of more women reporting it. It has happened.”
No doubt one of the main reasons for rapes has ever been the extreme selfishness of men who refuse to control their mating instinct. As Dr. Ralph Garofalo, of Massachusetts’ Center for Diagnosis and Treatment of Sexually Dangerous Persons, put it: ‘Normal men find a socially acceptable outlet for their desires, while the rapist loses sight of all moral or legal considerations.’ But why the great increase of rape in modern times and in recent years?
Discussing the reasons, a Seattle, Washington, police official in charge of the city’s sex-crime investigation department stated: “Our whole moral climate, our attitudes toward sex and the dress of the women have to be causes.” He also stated that the ‘increased exposure to pornography has contributed to the rise in reported rapes.’
Womankind must share the blame. To begin with, until the age of five or six years, the most vital period, little boys have their personalities molded largely by women, their mothers. And as they grow up, it is usually the mother that has the most opportunities to inculcate in her son respect for womankind, both by word and by example. But far too many mothers have come short in this regard. Especially and specifically blameworthy are those female relatives, such as an aunt or even a mother, who have used boys as sexual playthings, thereby starting them on a road that leads to their having aggressive feelings toward women.
A new American motion picture star who aims to occupy the place once held by America’s previous sex symbol brags about her charms and about her ability to arouse men by displaying herself in motion pictures. Such actresses must also share in the blame for the increase in rapes, for after men have seen them on the screen they frequently go out and attack a woman who may be a paragon of virtue.
Yet, there is more to the cause than these factors. The increase in rapes, as well as in other crimes, underscores the fact that we are living in what the Bible calls “the last days,” when men would be “lovers of themselves, . . . having no natural affection, . . . without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness.” (2 Tim. 3:1-5) One reason for this, as Bible prophecy shows, is that Satan the Devil, together with his demons, is influencing the minds of mankind. Angry because his time is short, he is determined to corrupt all flesh, even as he tried to do before the flood of Noah’s day.—Gen. 6:2-12; Matt. 24:37-39; Rev. 12:7-12; 20:1-3.
The Course of Prudence
In view of all these facts, what can women do? First of all, it behooves women to be very careful about going out alone at night, especially in large cities. Early in 1973 a young Christian woman decided to go home alone late one evening, around ten o’clock, although warned not to do so. She almost made it, but going around to the back entrance of her apartment building, she was grabbed by a man who threatened her with a knife. She failed to scream and was raped.
The New York Times, November 26, 1973, told of two fifteen-year-old girls being forced, shortly after midnight, into a store by an employee of the store who kept them for four hours and repeatedly raped one of them until the police came and rescued the girls and arrested the kidnapper and rapist. But what business did two teen-age girls have on the streets around midnight?
And never should a single woman, or even two, for that matter, take a chance on hitchhiking with a strange man. Many have done so, to be not only raped, but even murdered.
Further, in view of the way that many men think, each virtuous woman should be careful to dress modestly. According to the Seattle, Washington, police lieutenant in charge of the department dealing with such crimes, women who “reveal everything” in the way they dress make themselves more vulnerable to rape. “You can’t advertise a commodity and expect no buyers . . . A little modesty,” he holds, would prevent some rapes.
Without doubt, prudence can greatly help to lessen the likelihood of a woman’s being attacked.
Certain feminists advocate that women learn karate, but is that good advice? Regarding this, Dallas, Texas, Police Sergeant Maxwell states: “Judo and karate techniques are very involved and usually there simply isn’t enough time to use them.” And too, he stated that such techniques would need to be practiced continually so as to be useful in time of danger. Moreover, the Medical Tribune, November 21, 1973, under the heading “Two Atlanta MDs Emphasize Dangers of Karate ‘Chops,’” told of women suffering injuries to the liver and pancreas from learning karate. One patient had his retina severed and one eighteen-year-old boy died from a kick in the chest while taking part in a city-sponsored karate training class.
Instead of depending upon physical strength, each virtuous woman should exercise great caution to avoid any situation that might expose her to the threat of rape. And she ought to fortify her mind with the firm resolve as to what to do when faced with such an ordeal. The Bible and literature explaining it, as distributed by Jehovah’s witnesses, is a great help in this regard. As one of the three women earlier mentioned stated: “We were so thankful to Jehovah God for his help and strength. We are also appreciative of what his visible organization did in instructing us on how to handle ourselves in such a situation.”