Rapists are predators. Just like animal predators, they seek out the weakest and/or most vulnerable prey. Rape is not about sex, it is an act of brutal violence. To protect against rape, you must develop your protection instincts. To defend against rape, you must develop your survival instincts and cultivate a desire to escape at all costs.
Rape causes pain and suffering in the victim that may last a lifetime. It eats away at the soul and destroys the quality of life. At least the victim of a murderer is at peace, dead and no longer able to feel the pain.
FBI estimates indicate that only 10 percent of rapes are reported. Of those reported, in less than 25 percent are the rapists arrested. Of those arrested, only about 3 percent are charged. Of those charged, no more than 35 percent are convicted. In other words, most rapists are not caught.
Why rape is not reported
Some reasons why women do not report rape seem are the fear of:
- Personal questions asked by police investigators
- Humiliating medical examinations
- Testifying in court
- Fear that sexual past will come out in court
- The victim has the burden to prove that the attack was forced, against her will, and that she resisted the attack.
- Justice system's inability to put the criminal away
- Retaliation from assailant or his friends
These are real concerns that must be overcome before rapists may be brought to justice.
Myths about rape
Rape statistics show:
- Rapists usually have raped approximately 14 times for each time they are caught
- Rapists are on an ascending scale of violence with each assault
- More than 50% of all rapes occur in the home of the victim
- More than 93% of the time, the assailant and the victim are of the same race
The mass media represents males in superior social and physical positions and women as helpless and vulnerable. For example, in films, women are often depicted not only as vulnerable victims, but as victims who, once raped, degraded and dehumanized, come to accept this treatment and grow to love their attackers.
Myths have a manifest purpose of legitimizing aberrant behavior, such as rape. Studies have shown that women as well as men believe in many rape myths and are aroused by rape depictions. For example, some men believe that women will respond to sexual force even if they initially refuse sexual advances.
One myth is that rape is a crime caused by uncontrollable sex drive. Men in prison for serial rape often claim that they felt such a compulsion for sex that they could not help themselves. However, this claim does not hold water because virtually all such men either were married or otherwise had available sex partners when they committed the crimes.
Another myth is that women can resist rape of the really want to; sometimes stated as, "you cannot thread a moving needle. First of all, men have been raised differently than women. They have been trained to be physical and are usually stronger and faster than women. Likewise, women have been traditionally raised to be passive, weaker, and submissive to men. Such socialization enhances the possibility of a successful rape. In addition, the rapist chooses the time and place for the crime, usually when the women are in a vulnerable situation.
Many people believe the myth that rapes are committed by strangers; however, in fact, prior relationships are usually present in rape cases. About half of rapes of adult women were committed by men who know their victims and data show this may be as high as 80%.
Another myth is that women falsely cry rape. No doubt this has occurred, but it is rare. Data show that it is more likely that women will not report a rape that occurred.
All women want to be raped is a myth that has been romanticized in the media. Romance novels after start with a sexual attack where the women "melts into passionate acceptance." While it is true that some women have rape fantasies, these fantasies usually do not center on force or pain but on being "swept off one's feet" by a handsome stranger into a sexual liaison that one would not ordinarily entertain.
It cannot happen to me is delusional belief that many women hold. Accepting the myth that rape victims are always young and attractive, leads many women to believe they are unlikely victims since they are not desirable. Remember rape is not a crime of sex; it is a crime of violence. Sexual attractiveness is not a trait considered by rapists when they are stalking victims.
Elements of the crime of rape
Essential elements of the crime of rape include:
- Proof that a sex act occurred as defined by statute
- Proof that force (actual or threatened) was used to perform the sex act
- Proof that the sex act occurred "without the consent" or "against the will" of the victim
Characteristics of rapists
There is no simple explanation of the etiology of rapist. Not all are alike but there are some shared characteristics.
- Rapists are usually young. Some 80% are under the age of 30 and 75% are under the age of 25.
- Most rapists are from the lower socioeconomic class, are often minority group members, and typically chose victims of their own race.
- Rapists tend to see men as takers in sex and women as the givers.
- Most rapists are unarmed and in 25% of the cases where a weapon is used, the weapon was a knife.
- Most rapists plan their attacks but many act on the spur of the moment.
- Rapists usually have a history of violence.
- Rapists usually come from average homes and are sell-groomed, intelligent, employed, and live with others in a family context.
- Adolescent rapes usually take place on a weekend near the end of summer vacation. They usually take place in the victim's home or in an automobile. Many involve multiple rapists and involve the use of alcohol by the rapists and the victims.
Rapists are often:
- Very attractive
- In their late teens through mid 30s
- Married or with a sexual partner
- Fathers of small children still at home
- Of average or above-average intelligence
- In jobs that require travel
- respected in their neighborhoods
- Insure; their childhoods are often marked by cruelty
Types of rapists
- Power rapist. One who suffers from great personal insecurity and compensates by controlling other weaker persons. He believes women want to be raped and often dates women before raping them. He may ask a women for a date after raping her.
- Anger rapist. One who believes he must retaliate for an imagined wrong or loss. These attacks are usually unplanned, explosive attacked directed at randomly selected victims. Rapist may vent his rage and anger by beating and degrading his victim. He may force her into aberrant sexual acts as use vulgar language.
- Sadist rapist. One who seeks revenge and punishment from another person by the use of violence and cruelty. The victim is typically only a symbol of the source of his anger. He is usually very deliberate in his rapes and plans each one carefully He is often ritualistic in his attacks. The victims are often traumatized, suffer extreme physical injuries, and, in many cases, are murdered.
- Gang rapists. One who rapes in the company of peers. They reduce the victim to the status of an object. Gang rapists seek confirmation of their masculinity by expressing power over others. The first person to rape the victim is usually the gang leader. Usually the age of the victim reflects the age of the gang members.
- Date rapist or acquaintance rapist. One who knows the victim and forces his unwanted sexual advances on her. Since the rapist and the victim know each other, some do not consider this type of rape as serious as stranger rape. Regrettably, date rape trials usually do not end with a conviction.
When attacked, you must respond with animal-like determination and a no-holds-barred willingness to do the unthinkable.
Once an assault is underway and escape is not an immediate option, the single most important strategy a woman can employ, regardless of technique, is to become the predator, attacking her targets like a lioness—ruthless and relentless. The killer instinct endows us with our most fierce, Darwinian resolve. Once uncorked and applied with focused intent, the hidden potential of the killer instinct can transform even petite women into formidable fighters. Contrary to the myth that women will only get hurt worse if they fight back research consistently shows that “forceful resistance” is effective, particularly in repelling sexual assaults. For example, the only woman to escape serial rapist Ted Bundy was the one who fought back. Predatory attacks can be swift and vicious. Even a seemingly low-level assault, such as an uninvited sexual advance, may quickly escalate into a violent encounter. Assailants use their greater size and strength to overpower and subdue their victims. Pins, chokes, slapping, and “stunning blows” are common tactics.
In sexual attacks, women are often brutally forced to the ground and barraged by vile language, in an effort to overcome them psychologically . Because hesitation can mean the difference between life and death or being raped or not raped, the first few seconds of a physical assault are critical. There must be an immediate and explosive counterattack. The longer an assailant has control the more difficult it becomes to escape. Because women are typically smaller, to escape and survive they must be far more vicious and determined than their aggressors. “When women disengage completely from their traditional role, they become more ruthless and savage than men,” observed anthropologist Margaret Mead. Mead also said “Men and male animals will fight to show off their prowess and to impress females, but when women fight, it is fierce and to the death. Women are naturally suited to kill for survival.”
Defend by Attacking
Body language, de-escalating, boundary setting, and evasive skills are the first lines of defense, but they do not replace the need for violent counter measures nor address the necessity to overcome the fear of injury. Practical and powerful techniques may determine the outcome of an attack. You should attack while remaining focused, not struggling against the assailant's strengths, and attacking vulnerable targets. Do not poke or gouge, this will only anger the assailant; instead, attack with powerful kicks and punches. Use weapons of opportunity, such as a broom, piping hot coffee, a book thrust into the throat, etc. Yell! Besides drawing attention to your plight, it prevents “freezing” and summons the fighting spirit.
If pinned down, can use the hips to dislodge or heave off an assailant.
To avoid being choked, cut, or hit in the face, keep your head and throat out of the attacker's reach, position your legs between your body and his and use them like battering rams to vital regions. Use the hips to put maximum power into any technique. Retreat Syndrome One of women's biggest challenges is learning to not retreat when confronted with danger. If an attack is imminent or already in progress, moving back can have dire consequences. It triggers predator/prey dynamics that will draw the attacker in, giving him a tremendous tactical advantage. Instead, women must summon their will, move in, get inside his strike zone, and attack similar to a lioness. The element of surprise―going from Barbie to ballistic―is the best defense. Once you commit to violent counter strikes, there is no turning back. While stun-and-runs are sometimes effective, be prepared to apply a continuous counterattack until it is safe to flee. Turn Fear into Rage The fear of rape terrifies most women. It interferes with their basic sense of safety and freedom. Some may call it paranoia, but the fear of sexual assault is based on fact. It is estimated that 12 million American women have been the victim of "forcible rape" and that 1 out of 8 will be assaulted in her lifetime. The aftermath of rape can be devastating, profoundly altering a woman’s sense of self for years, if not a lifetime. No woman is immune, yet few are prepared.
To defend themselves, women must learn to turn this fear into rage.
This goes against traditional self-defense training which teaches the need to be in control of your emotions. While it is true that a rational mind must be present to assess and plan defenses and that intense emotion may result in knee-jerk reactions, anger can fuel a powerful attack. While men have a "make them pay" attitude and a fear of losing face, women are not used to physically fighting back. Women have been conditioned as prey. Women do not need to train to stay calm, cool, and collected, instead, they need to train to turn their fear into rage that is powerfully directed at the assailant.
No one is fearless.
The legendary former bouncer Geoff Thompson in his book Fear: The Friend of Exceptional People writes, "Saying that you don’t feel fear is like saying that you don’t feel hunger, thirst, love or hate. Everyone feels emotion, fear being one of the most powerful," The trick is to use fear itself as a stimulus to bring forth courage, to create a sense of urgency, and cause instant reaction. Fear is not your nemesis, it is the hesitation fear causes.
Resistance is not Futile
Immediate and aggressive responses, including fighting back, are effective against rape. Conversely pleading, reasoning, or appealing to a rapist’s humanity is not—the latter being "almost universally futile," notes Dr. Judith Herman, foremost authority on trauma and author of the best-selling book Trauma and Recovery.
By not resisting rape, women may be putting themselves at greater risk," says Sarah Ullman, assistant professor from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Of course fighting carries risks, but Ullman’s research on resistance strategies concluded that a woman’s "level of physical injury is mainly determined by the offender’s use of violence" and initial blows struck, not because she fought back. As stated by Ambrose Redmoon, "Only an enemy can initiate a warrior." "The women who fought to the best of their abilities were not only more likely to be successful in thwarting the rape attempt, but less likely to suffer severe distress symptoms," wrote Herman. "By contrast, women who submitted without a struggle were more likely to be highly self critical and depressed in the aftermath."
To effectively defend against a rapist, decide that your will not be raped and not be immobilized by fear of injury. "If what you fear more than anything else is injury," says survival expert Sanford Strong, "you will not have the determination to escape an attack. You will believe all the criminal’s promises and never notice fleeting opportunities." A rapist can use a woman’s terror to gain compliance and render her powerless. The woman must channel her fear to turn the rapist’s weapons of intimidation back onto him and commence a merciless counterattack.
Recognize when you are being "tested" as a victim and break away immediately
Predators often test a woman’s boundaries to gain proximity and size up her defenses. This can occur in a few seconds or over months. Learn to draw a line, to say NO and mean it. Do not be duped by ploys, listen to your gut.
If you are rendered immobile and cannot immediately resist, act at the first opening
Rape can abruptly escalate to a more violent, life-threatening attack, so you cannot wait to a better opportunity. Take advantage of any sliver of opportunity. The instant he fumbles with his or your clothing, changes positions, puts down a weapon, or prepares to strike or use a weapon - ATTACK! Some rapists initially establish dominance by use of force, so, instead of ineffectually struggling against brute strength, relax and wait or an opening.
If forced to wait, remain focused on the inside
Emotions and adrenaline will quickly flood the body and can induce panic or paralysis. Adrenaline is a key factor here. Its function is to prepare you for fight or flight. It revs the engine for action. If action is stifled, this energy may be misinterpreted as fear. When one is rendered paralyzed by fear, a feeling of dissociation or leaving one’s body may take over. This is the body's way of mitigating trauma and pain but it makes resistance difficult. To counter these feelings, plan: think about what part of my body is free, what targets are presenting, or where is the exit? To help counteract a racing mind and heart, lower your "center" and concentrate on deep breathing.
Do not test the waters
Do not make feeble attempts in an effort to test the attacker's reaction. Make your opening move count without telegraphing your intention. Initially, you might be able to lower his aggression, or at least his guard, by calmly talking to him or through physical contact, such as placing a hand on his knee, which gives you potential leverage and control. This also gets him used to seeing your hands so he will not think twice when you suddenly stab his face. When it is time to make you move, put your whole body and soul into the attack. Attack vulnerable regions
To commit a rape, an offender’s face or groin will likely be in your strike zone at some point. Viciously attack whatever he sticks out. Use dirty tactics: bite, gouge, seize-and-squeeze, slam, pound, and pummel.
Use Your Hips and Legs To "Get Him Off!"
If an attacker is lying on or straddling your hips, plant a foot and buck him off or trap his lower leg and roll, while simultaneously attacking the face. If an offender is to the side of your body or sitting on you upright, you might be able to hook his head or shoulders with your leg(s) and slam him down. Remember: your goal is to facilitate escape, not force him into submission.
Use all available weapons
Self defense means adapting and expanding, not restricting, our options. Learn to see and think about using everyday things as weapons. On the way home late at night, stop at a convenience store and pick up a cup of piping hot black coffee. After parking, pop the lid and walk home with coffee in hand. If physically assaulted, throw the hot coffee in the face of the attacker. Similarly, handfuls of dirt, noxious household products, or your fire extinguisher when aimed at the eyes of a violent aggressor could buy you enough time to escape or get help. Almost any item that has weight, mass, edges, or points can be an improvised self-defense tool when used against a vulnerable target. The list is endless Furnishings and objects may also become protective barriers. A briefcase or garbage can lid may be used to fend off a knife attack.
To practice using available weapons, imagine you are suddenly ambushed. Give yourself only three seconds to get a "weapon" or "barrier" in your hands, with the emotional readiness to use it. Simultaneously be aware of and start maneuvering toward an exit or escape route.
Never allow yourself to be tied up or taken to a secondary crime scene
At a second, more isolated location, an assailant will have far more control over you. Go ballistic—immediately! Attack like a lioness and fight like you life depended on it, for it may.
Never give up
Another opening or stroke of luck may present itself. No matter the injury, if you are alive, you are not dead yet.
Soalt, Melissa, AKA Dr. Ruthless. (2002). Fight Back Against Rape With Fear. [Online]. Available: http://www.dr-ruthless.com.