How You Can Protect Yourself
AS UNPLEASANT as thinking about rape may be, the experience itself can be absolutely terrifying. And since, as we noted in the previous article, we are living in “the last days” of this system of things, we may well expect that the number of such experiences will continue to increase.
This means that you, as a woman, need to know how to protect yourself. For one thing, it is important to know what circumstances often lead to rape.
Resisting in Dating Situations
Many girls are raped while on a date. Typically, the couple engage in kissing, perhaps even petting. Then the man, sexually aroused, wants more. But the girl doesn’t want to go any farther. The man presses the issue, and the girl, intimidated and confused, submits. As a 17-year-old explained:
“I was sedate, demure, humble, submissive—and a virgin. . . . On our last date he pushed me in the back of his car and held me. I just gave up.”
Why are girls often so easily raped? Their first mistake is to date men who fail to hold to the Bible’s moral standards. And their second is to allow themselves to be maneuvered into a compromising situation. They may not want to seem concerned or to look foolish by taking a strong position against the man’s early advances. But in a rape-prevention manual for women, the authors urge: “You have to be blunt, make a stand, perhaps even look foolish. You will undoubtedly lose a suitor, which in this case would be no loss.”
Going on, these authors say: “Once you start to play along with the situation, you’re trapped. The point is not to start, to stay clear of the entire matter.” Yes, girls need to understand fully the effect of getting started with preliminary sex play, such as kissing. Frederic Straska, who has spent years investigating rape, said of a victim who had engaged in kissing:
“The next mistake [Gayle] made was to assume that ‘kissing isn’t that important, is it?’ Kissing is a very potent sexual activity all by itself. The upper lip is one of the most sensuous areas of the body. Either a man or a woman could be as enticed sexually by passionate kissing as by fondling direct sexual areas of the body. . . .
“From Mike’s standpoint, Gayle was leading him on, teasing him. She may not have meant to. She probably didn’t. But that’s what he perceived. That’s what most men would have perceived in a similar situation. By allowing as much as she did, by putting up no convincing stop signals, Gayle led Mike to what, for him, was the point of no return.”
Parents can do much to protect their daughters. They should get to know well the young men with whom their daughters keep company. Do these youths respect God’s moral requirements? Do they apply them in their lives? If so, there should not be a problem. But if a young man has been able to disguise his true motivations, the girl needs to take a bold stand, letting him know that by no means will she submit to him.
There are many things a girl can do to resist. When the improper intentions of her date became apparent, one girl did what others have also found effective. She turned her head away from him, stuck her finger down her throat, turned back and vomited on him. Immediately his passion was quenched; he was sympathetic, concerned about her health, and took her home.
Resisting Others You Know
Other persons you know may also be potential rapists, including your own relatives, neighbors, relatives of your girl friends, and so forth. To protect yourself, it is vital to be aware. It’s not that we should be suspicious of every relative and friend who hugs us or otherwise shows us affection or attention. But remember, every rapist is somebody’s relative or friend.
While visiting relatives, a 15-year-old was raped by her cousin when others were not around. A 17-year-old was raped when she accepted an invitation to the apartment of her sister-in-law’s brother. It is being done all the time—by people the girls knew and often trusted. Surprised, shocked, confused, many girls, sadly, prove easy victims, often raising the question, even in the minds of their own parents, as to whether they were not willing participants.
Properly, a girl in such a situation will resist boldly. Some have successfully avoided rape by doing all sorts of vulgar and repulsive things to make themselves unattractive and unfeminine. Also, what one says can turn off a potential rapist.
A 14-year-old baby-sitter was being taken home by the child’s father. On the way he turned off the road into a secluded area. He began touching and fondling her, then started stripping off her clothes. At that she stopped struggling and said: “You know, Mr. Jones, in nine or ten years this could be happening to your little girl.” That stopped him cold. He apologized and even wept.
“Prevention is the key,” one police officer says. “I maintain that 95 percent of all rapes could have been avoided.” You need to think about possible consequences of your actions.
For example, the practice of hitchhiking places women in a vulnerable situation. According to the results from questionnaires provided by two rape researchers, the majority of the women raped by men whom they did not know had been hitchhiking at the time of the rape. Neither is it wise to pick up a hitchhiker.
Similarly, inviting into your home a man whom you don’t know well can lead to your being raped. Perhaps it’s a man you hired to do yard work, and you want to give him something to drink. Or it may be a man that knocks on your door desiring to make an “emergency” phone call. Wisely, take the drink outside to the man, or make the call for the one who needs help. Especially if you live where crime is rampant, don’t permit strangers inside your home when you are alone!
Also, guard the security of your home with adequate locks on doors and windows. Since living alone exposes one to greater danger, if you do you might think about getting a roommate.
If you are a parent, you need to consider your daughters who may be home after school before you arrive. Exercise care that a daughter is not there alone with a boy other than her brother, or in a situation where she may be the only female in a group. Discuss rape prevention with your daughters, as well as how to resist an attack.
Wisely, draw your blinds when dressing or undressing. Don’t walk around your home scantily attired so that those from the outside can see you. One woman did that. A neighbor viewed this as an invitation. One evening he came to her apartment. She let him in, and he raped her.
If you can at all avoid it, don’t travel alone at night. Even though rapists generally choose women 16 to 24 years of age, don’t assume you won’t be a target because of being much older, or much younger. Remember, even children and women in their 80’s are sometimes attacked. And since sexy attire is a factor in some rapes, it is wise to dress modestly.
New York City policewoman Mary Keefe gave insight regarding precautions to take when she described how rapists often operate, saying: “He usually chooses a late hour (8 P.M. to 4 A.M. are the hours of highest incidence), or a lonely, deserted place—a shortcut, a vacant lot, a laundry room.”
Yet, despite the precautions you take, suppose one day you are confronted with a rapist. What should you do?
In one word, resist! Don’t be intimidated. As policewoman Mary Keefe said: “Once the unsuspecting woman has been accosted, the potential rapist tests her to make sure she can be intimidated so that he will have little trouble having her comply with his demands.”
So make it clear that you positively will not submit. Right at the outset, let him know that it won’t be easy if he tries anything with you. This is what experts say. Psychologist James Selkin urges:
“It is important that a woman resist at the very beginning of the attack, when the assailant first makes his intentions known. At this point he has not committed a serious crime, and it’s easier for him to look for a more cooperative victim than to struggle to overcome one who has already shattered his hopes for a smooth sex-fantasy trip.”
Professor Gene G. Abel says:
“To prevent rape, a woman should convey in a firm, unequivocal manner using brisk, assertive language that under no circumstances will she permit intercourse and that unless the rapist leaves immediately he will be in trouble. The rapist must see her as a difficult, aggressive opponent, not a cowering, passive individual groping for a response to his threat of rape.”
Firm resistance at the outset really works. A woman had the following experience in New York city:
“I had been shopping and came home around 9 P.M. and was going into the building where I lived. As usual I checked out the elevator before entering. All was clear. But when I got to the 4th floor, the elevator door was pulled open. A man had run up the stairs to catch me on the 4th floor, and I hadn’t seen him. He got in and started to come toward me, saying that he wouldn’t hurt me if I would have relations with him.
“Before he could progress any further, I said to him without anger, ‘You must be crazy to ask me to do a thing like that. Don’t you know that I’m a Christian and that would be wrong for me to do? I don’t do things like that. And besides, I’m on my way home to my family because they are waiting for me.’
“He then answered, ‘OK, OK, OK, don’t be angry, and please don’t scream. I’m going.’ So he got off at the 5th floor and ran down the stairs to get away from me.”
But someone may ask: ‘What if the man has a knife or a gun? Isn’t it dangerous to resist?’ She is the one to decide what she will do. But Susan Brownmiller, a leading spokesperson on the subject of rape, observes in her book Against Our Will:
“Despite the popular myths of male violence and the alleged safety in submission, it has never been demonstrated that resistance on the part of a rape victim in an attempt to escape ‘provokes’ an assailant to commit an act of murder.”
On the other hand, resistance has time and again saved women from being raped, and even killed. The rapist-murderer Albert DeSalvo, known as the “Boston Strangler,” chose women he could intimidate. A waitress who resisted him, biting his finger to the bone, and keeping up a loud, sustained scream, was neither raped nor killed. He fled from her in anger and confusion.
Weapons to Use
To what extent may a woman resist? May she properly inflict damage on her assailant? Indeed she may, as did the waitress mentioned above. And if the attack continues, she may use any means at her disposal to resist intercourse. A woman may talk to her husband or father or a trusted friend to get advice on defensive measures. Some women have been able to incapacitate their attacker with a well-placed blow. Even if a woman is not a strong fighter, she has a powerful weapon that she can use.
This weapon is her voice. Screaming has proved to be an effective method of deterring a rapist. Interestingly, an Israelite girl in ancient times was obligated to scream if attacked.—Deut. 22:23-27.
The power of a scream was illustrated when a woman was called on in a radio script to scream. She had never done so before. When she finally cut loose with all her might, the stunned group reacted: “Please don’t ever do that again!” It had actually frightened them. Just for practice, try sometime screaming with all the energy you can muster. Keep in mind that you have available this powerful weapon, and use it if need be.
Relief at Hand
It is indeed sad that most women today, and even some men, face the threat of sexual assault. The violence in the world is like a spreading plague. Pretending that it doesn’t exist only increases the possibility of your being a victim. So, wisely, face the problem. Take precautions. And, if assaulted, do all in your power to resist.
Happily, the time is near at hand when such problems will no longer exist on earth. For this promise of God is soon to be fulfilled: “Just a little while longer, and the wicked one will be no more; and you will certainly give attention to his place, and he will not be. But the meek ones themselves will possess the earth, and they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.”—Ps. 37:10, 11.