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new residence. A peephole in your front door can be
3. Do not open your door to strangers. If a repairman or
public ofcial is at your door, ask him to identify him-
self and call his ofce to verify that he is a reputable
person on legitimate business.
4. When you are in situations in which strangers may be
encountered, demonstrate self-condence through
your body language and speech to communicate that
you will not be intimidated.
Research reveals that rap-
ists often tend to select as victims women who exhibit
passivity and submissiveness (
Richards et al., 1991).
5. Take a cell phone with you when you are out alone.
6. Lock your car when it is parked and while you are
7. Avoid dark and deserted areas and be aware of your
surroundings when you are walking. Such precautions
can help if you need an opportunity to escape. Should
a driver ask for directions when you are a pedestrian,
avoid approaching his car. Instead, call out your reply
from a safe distance.
8. Have house or car keys in hand before going to your
door, and check the backseat before getting into your
9. Should your car break down, attach a white cloth to the
antenna and lock yourself in. If someone other than a
uniformed ofcer in an ofcial car stops to offer help,
ask this person to call the police or a garage but do not
open your locked car door.
10. Never hitchhike or provide rides to hitchhikers or get
into a car with a stranger.
11. Wherever you go, it can be helpful to carry a device for
making a loud noise, such as a whistle or, even better,
a pint-sized compressed-air horn (available in many
sporting goods and boat supply stores). Sound the
noise alarm at the first sign of danger.
Many cities have crime-prevention bureaus that provide
further suggestions and home-safety inspections.
What to Do in Threatening Situations Involving Strangers
If you are approached by a man or men who may intend
to rape you, you will have to decide what to do. Each
situation, assailant, and woman is unique. There are no
1. Run away if you can.
2. Resist if you cannot run. Make it difcult for the rap-
ist. On locating a potential victim, many men test
her to see if she is easily intimidated. Resistance by
the woman is often responsible for thwarting rape
attempts (Heyden et al., 1999). Active and vociferous
resistance—shouting, being rude, causing a scene,
running away, ghting back—may deter the attack.
was the nding of a study of 150 rapes or attempted
rapes: Women who used forceful verbal or physical
resistance (screaming, hitting, kicking, biting, running,
and the like) were more likely to avoid being raped
than women who tried pleading, crying, or offering no
resistance (Zoucha-Jensen & Coyne, 1993).
3. Ordinary rules of behavior do not apply. Vomiting,
screaming, or acting crazy—whatever you are
willing to try—can be appropriate responses to an
4. Talking can be a way to stall and can give you a chance
to devise an escape plan or another strategy. It can be
helpful to get the attacker to start talking (“What has
happened to make you so angry?”), to express some
empathy (“It is really discouraging to lose a job”),
or to negotiate (“Let’s take time to talk about this”).
Even when talking does not prevent an assault, it may
reduce the degree of violence (
Prentky et al., 1986).
5. Remain alert for an opportunity to escape. In some
situations, it may be impossible to fight or elude an
attacker initially. However, later on, you may have a
chance to deter the attack and escape—for example, if
the rapist becomes distracted or a passerby comes on
Self-defense classes are a resource for learning tech-
niques of physical resistance that can injure the attacker or
distract him long enough for you to escape.
What to Do if You Have Been Raped
If someone has raped you or tried to rape you, you will
have to decide whether to report the attack to the police.
1. It is advisable to report a rape or even an unsuccess-
ful rape attempt.
The information you provide may
prevent another woman from being raped.
2. When you report such an attack, any details you can
remember about it may be helpful—the assaulter’s
physical characteristics, voice, clothes, car, even an
3. If you have been raped, you should call the police
as soon as possible; do not bathe or change your
clothes. Semen, hair, and material under ngernails
or on your clothing may be useful in identifying the
4. It may be helpful to contact a rape crisis center, where
qualied staff members can assist you in dealing with
your trauma. Most large urban communities in the
United States have such programs. If you cannot make
the contact yourself, have a friend, family member, or
the police make the call.
5. In addition to general counseling, there are effective
treatment programs for women who have been raped.
If your symptoms do not subside after a period of time,
consider entering a treatment program. You do not
have to continue to suffer.
6. Finally, it is important to remember that many women
mistakenly blame themselves for the rape.
being raped is not a crime; the crime has been commit-
ted by the man who raped you.
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