Here is a number for you: 354,670. That is the number of women that were raped in 1995 (RAINN 1). That is equivalent of one woman being raped every two minutes (RAINN 1). Want more numbers? “In the last two years, more than 787,000 women were the victim of a rape or sexual assault” (RAINN 1). And one more statistic that might get your attention is that only 37% of rapes are reported to the authorities (RAINN 2). Fortunately, there are ways to drastically reduce these numbers. For starters women need to know what constitutes rape. Second women need to know how to prevent rape before it starts, and lastly women need to know what to do if they are raped. According to the book Our Bodies Our Selves, rape is defined as “…any kind of sexual activity committed against a woman’s will” (Avery 135). When a person says the word “rape”, people automatically think of a stranger jumping out of the bushes or chasing you down an ally. But, the most common form of rape is called acquaintance rape or date rape. Acquaintance rape is defined as “forced, manipulated or coerced sexual contact by someone you know” (gopher.uchicago 1).
Acquaintance rape can occur by “someone you have just met, or dated a few times, or even with someone to whom you are engaged” (Hughes 1). Acquaintance rape accounts for about 60% of all rapes reported (Hughes 1). According to Hughes, date rape usually occurs when a man and a woman are alone whether in a car or at home (2). Also drugs and alcohol sometimes play an important factor in date rape. “Many victims say later that they drank too much or took too many drugs to realize what was going on by the time they realized their predicament, it was too later” (Hughes 2). Another reason acquaintance rape occurs is mixed signals. For example, the woman acts friendly “…the man interprets this friendliness as an invitation to have sex” and when a woman says “no” she means “maybe” (Hughes 2). The reason that men do this is because they are taught to be aggressive and controlling at an early age. Men need to realize that this attitude can lead to date rape and should not look at women as sex objects. Women need to be aware of men like this to prevent being raped. Since acquaintance rape and stranger rape can occur at any time, women should know how to prevent rape before it starts.
There are many steps you can take to prevent being raped. The first step is to be psychologically prepared. Women must accept the fact that they are a potential rape victim (ncf.carleton 1). The second step is to be aware of community rape prevention and counseling. The third psychological step is to recognize the locations and situations where rape is more likely to occur, and avoid them. After being psychologically prepared women must know what to do in each of the following situations: in your car, on the street, and in your home.
When you are in your car you should follow these instructions (ncf.carleton 2).
1. Keep windows and doors locked
2. If you should be followed into your driveway, stay in your car with the doors locked. Sound horn to get the attention of neighbors or scare the other driver off.
3. When parking at night, select a place that will be well lit when returning to the car.
4. Always make sure the car is locked, and have the keys ready when returning to the car.
5. Check interior of car before getting in.
The following information will be useful when you are on the street.
1. Be observant of things around you. If someone is following you, go to the nearest house or store.
2. Walk near the curb and avoid passing close to shrubbery, dark doorways and other places of concealment.
3. DO NOT HITCHHIKE.
4. Avoid short cuts through parking lots and alleys.
5. Walk with a friend if at all possible. Don’t walk alone.
6. When arriving home by taxi or private auto, ask the driver to wait until you get inside.
7. Don’t jog in secluded areas
8. Know the location of the special emergency phones on campus.
Finally when you are in your home you should use the following precautions.
1. The best lock cannot function if you fail to lock it. Be sure to keep your doors locked.
2. All windows should have secure locks and frames.
3. All entrances and garages should be well-lit
4. Never open the door after a knock. Require the person to give their name. In the case of service persons ask for proper I.D. and refuse entrance if you feel uneasy.
All of the previous steps to avoid being raped were provided by the ncf.carleton web site.
The third aspect of this paper deals with the unfortunate situation of being raped. There is a long list of things that you need to do if you are raped. The first and foremost part is to stay alive. Being raped might be a terrible thing, but it is much better than being dead. If by some chance you see an escape from your attacker, and there is very little risk of being hurt you should go for it (ncf.carleton 3). If you cannot get away then scream “FIRE” or “POLICE”, don’t scream rape because people are less likely to get involved. After the incident you should report it to the police as soon as possible (ncf.carleton 3).
Jean O’Gorman Hughes provided this checklist of what you need to do after being raped:
1. Go to a friends house
2. Get medical attention
3. Report the attack to police
4. Consider whether you want to file charges with the police
5. Get help and support, such as counselling
6. Write a letter to the rapist
7. DO NOT BLAME YOURSELF
It is very important that you do not shower or clean yourself off after being raped until you have got medical attention. You may possibly have evidence such as hair, semen, or blood from your attacker on your body, clothes, or hair. If you take a shower or clean yourself off then you have literally washed all the evidence down the drain. Finally if you have been raped you can find comfort in counselling. There are many organizations that can help you get though the tough times that may follow. Women go though the Rape Trauma Syndrome and it is very difficult to deal with on their own. One organization that helps women deal with rape is the Rape, Assault, and Incest National Network (RAINN). They have a toll free number and will connect you to a shelter/counselling center in your area free of charge.
There are many different forms of rape. There are many different things that you can do to prevent rape. There are many different places you can go if you are raped. It can happen to anybody (males included). It is a difficult situation to deal with, but we can help reduce the number of rapes if we use are heads. It is not an overnight solution, but if women follow these previous steps the rapes in this country will decline over time. And besides, that 1995 total of rapes 354,670 is 354,670 too many.
Avery, Byllye and Rodriguez-Trias, Helen and Steinem, Gloria. 1992. Our Bodies Our Selves. http://www.gopher.uchicago.edu/70/00/ustudent/sexab/AcquaintanceRape/whatis
Hughes, Jean O’Gorman. 1987. “Friends Raping Friends-Could It Happen to You? www.cs.utk.edu/~bartley/aquaintRape.html#how