How to Prevent Rape
Eric was tall and good-looking, and from a wealthy family. Lori was 19 and had been invited on a double date with Eric and his roommate. She arrived at the barbecue at Eric’s home, but unknown to her, the other couple had canceled out. Soon, the rest of the guests started leaving the party.
“I began to think, ‘Something is wrong, something is going on,’ but I ignored it,” she said.
Once he had Lori alone, Eric raped her. Lori never reported the rape to police, and later she moved 150 miles [240 km] away to avoid seeing Eric again. One year later, she was still afraid to date.
RAPE is a growing threat, and a woman’s best defense is to be aware and prepared. Not every rape situation can be anticipated, but knowing how rapists think and plan their attack may help you recognize warning signs.* States an ancient proverb: “Sensible people will see trouble coming and avoid it, but an unthinking person will walk right into it and regret it later.”—Proverbs 27:12, Today’s English Version.
The best way to avoid a rape situation is to avoid rapists. You should be aware of a pattern of behavior in a man—even one you know well—that may identify him as a potential rapist. (See box, page 7.) Some men will use a woman’s style of dress or her willingness to be alone with him as an excuse to rape her. While a woman isn’t responsible if a man holds such warped views, she would be wise to recognize such attitudes.
Don’t allow yourself to be isolated with a man you don’t know well. (Even with one you know well, use discretion.) A stranger rapist may come to your home pretending to be a repairman. Check his credentials. An acquaintance rapist often gets victims alone by inventing errands that require a stop by his home or by lying about there being a group of people at a meeting place. Don’t fall for it.
To avoid problems in dating situations, date in groups or with a chaperon. Know your date well, and set firm limits on the amount of physical intimacy, if any, you will allow. Be cautious about drinking any alcohol! You can’t be alert to danger if your thinking is impaired. (Compare Proverbs 23:29-35.) Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable around someone, don’t give him the benefit of the doubt. Get away.
Parents of teenagers especially need to discuss rape prevention with their children, being specific about dangerous situations because the majority of rapists and rape victims are young.
Not all rape situations can be anticipated. Unwittingly, you may find yourself alone and facing a man who is stronger than you and who is intent on forcing you into sex. What then?
Act quickly, and remember your goal: escape. A rapist often tests his victim before deciding to attack, so it is important to derail his plans as soon as possible before he gains enough confidence to act. Rape experts offer two courses of action: passive resistance or active resistance. You can try passive resistance first and, that failing, move to active resistance.
Passive resistance may involve anything from buying time by talking to the rapist to pretending you have a sexually transmitted disease to vomiting on your assailant. (Compare 1 Samuel 21:12, 13.) “Tactics are limited only by one’s imagination,” wrote Gerard Whittemore in his book Street Wisdom for Women: A Handbook for Urban Survival.
Passive tactics—which include everything but physically fighting the rapist—require cool thinking and should be designed to distract or calm the attacker. If your resistance is making your attacker more angry and violent, try something else. However, don’t allow yourself to be forced into a more isolated area while you’re thinking. And remember one of the most effective forms of passive resistance—screaming.—Compare Deuteronomy 22:23-27.
Another option is to react negatively and forcefully. Tell your attacker in no uncertain terms that you will not submit to his wishes. In a date rape situation, you may try the shock tactic of calling the attack what it is. Shouting, “This is rape! I’m calling the police!” may make your would-be rapist think twice about pushing you further.
If talking doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to move to active resistance. That doesn’t mean you’re more likely to be harmed or killed, nor does submission guarantee your safety. Therefore, most rape experts advise putting up a struggle.
Fighting back can be difficult for women because they have been conditioned for a lifetime to be polite, passive, and submissive even when threatened by physical force. Therefore, you need to decide ahead of time that you will resist so that you won’t lose precious time by hesitating during an attack.
You need to feel outraged that anyone would threaten or pressure you. You need to realize that this attack is premeditated, and the rapist is counting on you to submit. Get angry, not afraid. “Your fear is an attacker’s most powerful weapon,” said researcher Linda Ledray. Don’t worry that you are overreacting or that you may look foolish. “Better rude than raped,” as one expert put it. Women who have successfully resisted rapists usually did so actively and tried more than one tactic, including biting, kicking, and screaming.
If you are unable to fend off the rape, concentrate on being able to identify your assailant later. If possible, scratching him or tearing his clothing will leave blood and fabric evidence with you. But at this point, you may simply be unable to fight any longer. In that case, “do not berate yourself that you ‘let’ him rape you,” said Robin Warshaw in I Never Called It Rape. “You do not need to sustain injury or death to ‘prove’ you were raped.”
No two situations are alike, and no prevention advice is foolproof. Even rape experts disagree on how much and what kind of resistance a victim should put up during an attack.
[Box on page 7]
Profile of a Potential Rapist
□ Emotionally abuses you by insulting you, ignoring your views, or getting angry or annoyed when you make a suggestion.
□ Tries to control elements of your life, such as how you dress and who your friends are. Wants to make all the decisions on a date, such as where to eat or what movie to see.
□ Gets jealous for no reason.
□ Talks down about women in general.
□ Gets drunk or “high” and tries to get you to do the same.
□ Pressures you to be alone with him or to have sex.
□ Won’t let you share expenses on a date and gets angry if you offer to pay.
□ Is physically violent even in subtle ways, such as grabbing or pushing.
□ Intimidates you by sitting too close, blocking your way, touching when you’ve said not to, or talking as if he knows you better than he actually does.
□ Can’t handle frustration without getting angry.
□ Doesn’t view you as an equal.
□ Enjoys weapons and likes being cruel to animals, children, or people he can bully.
From I Never Called It Rape, by Robin Warshaw.
[Picture on page 7]
Women who have successfully resisted rapists usually did so actively and tried more than one tactic