Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Through A Rapist's Eyes: Part 2

As promised in part 1, here is the viral email that has been going around in one form or another since 2001. I have chosen to include the entire email (quoted section by section) that my reader received with my comments after each section.

Through a Rapist's Eyes (No Joke)
A group of rapists and date rapists in prison were interviewed on what they look for in a potential victim and here are some interesting facts:
This claim cannot be verified. Further, while date rapists were allegedly interviewed, this entire list is centered on stranger rapists. Since about 73% of rapists are known to their victims this list -- even if it were a perfect descriptor of stranger rapists -- does little to prevent most rapes.
1) The first thing men look for in a potential victim is hairstyle. They are most likely to go after a woman with a ponytail, bun, braid or other hairstyle that can easily be grabbed . They are also likely to go after a woman with long hair . Women with short hair are not common targets.
While individual rapists may have hair preferences there is no evidence that women with short hair get any protection from their hairstyle or that rapists make the decision to rape based on whether they can grip a woman's hair.

This item seems to fall back on stereotypes of rapists and cavemen who drag their victims off by their hair.
2) The second thing men look for is clothing. They will look for women who's clothing is easy to remove quickly. Many of them carry scissors around specifically to cut clothing.

Unless a stranger rapist has what has been dubbed a rapist's kit, I've never heard of any rape which involved the use of scissors.

The danger with this claim is that it reinforces that women wearing certain types of clothing were not raped if their clothes are not cut or torn. This belief contributed to an Italian court saying that women in jeans can't be raped.

3) They also look for women on their cell phone, searching through their purse, or doing other activities while walking because they are off-guard and can be easily overpowered.

Some stranger rapists may attack someone who is distracted, but not being distracted isn't reliable protection and it is no protection against rapists who introduce themselves to their intended victims in what is viewed as a safe environment so that they can claim, "it was consensual."

4) Men are most likely to attack & rape in the early morning, between 5: 00a.m. And 8:30a.m.

There is no credible evidence to support this claim.

5) The number one place women are abducted from/attacked is grocery store parking lots. The number two: office parking lots/garages. Number three: public restrooms.

There is no credible evidence to support this claim but this claim does match stereotypes about where truly innocent rape victims are attacked.

6) The thing about these men is that they are looking to grab a woman and quickly move her to another location where they don't have to worry about getting caught.

Some rapists want to abduct their victims but most do not.

7) Only 2% said they carried weapons because rape carries a 3-5 year sentence but rape with a weapon is 15-20 years.

When it comes to stranger rapists this percentage is low. When it comes to rapist/kidnappers this percentage is likely dangerously low.

8) If you put up any kind of a fight at all, they get discouraged because it only takes a minute or two for them to realize that going after you isn't worth it because it will be time-consuming.

This advice could result in a rape victim being murdered. The decision to fight cannot be generic.

9) These men said they would not pick on women who have umbrellas, or other similar objects that can be used from a distance, in their hands

Keys are NOT a deterrent because you have to get really close to the attacker to use them as a weapon. So, the idea is to convince these guys you're not worth it.

Some stranger rapists might not attack women with umbrellas, but others won't care. These devices are meaningless against acquaintance rapists. The hassle of carrying a long umbrella every time a woman is alone is so high that all this advice might be good for is making a woman who sometimes carries an umbrella feel guilty if she is attacked when she isn't holding her umbrella.

10) Several defense mechanisms he taught us are: If someone is following behind you on a street or in a garage or with you in an elevator or stairwell, look them in the face and ask them a question, like what time is it?, or make general small talk: 'I can't believe it is so cold out here,' 'We're in for a bad winter.' Now you've seen their face and could identify them in a line-up; you lose appeal as a target.

This might be true for some rapists, but for others they would see this as evidence they can use to prove sexual consent if they are identified. Some might even see this as consent so that they can convince themselves that they did have legal consent.

11) If someone is coming toward you, hold out your hands in front of you and yell STOP! Or STAY BACK! Most of the rapists this man talked to said they'd leave a woman alone if she yelled or showed that she would not be afraid to fight back. Again, they are looking for an EASY target.

If women followed this advice every time a man came toward her she'd be viewed as paranoid to the point of mental illness. Rapists saying they would stop if ordered to sounds more like the rationalizations of people dodging responsibility.

In some situations yelling commands may work for a variety of reasons, but it is no way going to get reliable results.

12) If you carry pepper spray (this instructor was a huge advocate of it and carries it with him wherever he goes), yell I HAVE PEPPER SPRAY and holding it out will be a deterrent.

Again this assumes that rapists are strangers or it assumes that women should carry pepper spray constantly even when with friends.

13) If someone grabs you, you can't beat them with strength but you can by outsmarting them. If you are grabbed around the waist from behind, pinch the attacker either under the Arm (between the elbow and armpit)OR in the upper inner thigh VERY VERY HARD. One woman in a class this guy taught told him she used the underarm pinch on a guy who was trying to date rape her and was so upset she broke through the skin and tore out muscle strands - the guy needed stitches. Try pinching yourself in those places as hard as you can stand it - it hurts.

The concept of outsmarting rapists is good, but this technique seems iffy at best. If this move hurts but doesn't allow the rape victim to break free some rapists will respond with increased violence.

14) After the initial hit, always GO for the GROIN. I know from a particularly unfortunate experience that if you slap a guy's parts it is extremely painful. You might think that you'll anger the guy and make him want to hurt you more, but the thing these rapists told our instructor is that they want a woman who will not cause a lot of trouble. Start causing trouble and he's out of there.

If going for the groin will help someone break free, fine. However, many rapists expect trouble and may be anticipating this move which brings the victim closer. In a non-stranger rape this move may result in the rapist claiming to be the victim of an unprovoked assault.

15) When the guy puts his hands up to you, grab his first two fingers and bend them back as far as possible with as much pressure pushing down on them as possible. The instructor did it to me without using much pressure, and I ended up on my knees and both knuckles cracked audibly.

See my comment on #14.

16) Of course the things we always hear still apply. Always be aware of your surroundings, take someone with you if you can and if you see any odd behavior, don't dismiss it, go with your instincts!!!

You may feel a little silly at the time, but you'd feel much worse if the guy really was trouble.

Being aware of your surroundings is good, but the idea that women shouldn't go anywhere alone is absurd. First, this advice means that women can't even go to work alone. Second women who have been with men have been attacked by stranger rapists so not being alone doesn't magically protect women from rapists.

1. Tip from Tae Kwon Do : The elbow is the strongest point on your body. If you are close enough to use it, do!

If you aren't in a stranger rapist's physical control, escaping should be the first option. If a stranger rapist has a gun this move may result in the rape victim being murdered.

2. Learned this from a tourist guide in New Orleans : If a robber asks for your wallet and/or purse, DO NOT HAND IT TO HIM. Toss it away from you....chances are that he is more interested in your wallet and/or purse than you, and he will go for the wallet/purse. RUN LIKE MAD IN THE OTHER DIRECTION!

This is good advice in a mugging, but women can't toss their vaginas and run.

3. If you are ever thrown into the trunk of a car, kick out the back tail lights and stick your arm out the hole and start waving like crazy. The driver won't see you, but everybody else will. This has saved lives.

Newer cars have trunk release pulls. For anyone concerned about being placed in the trunk of their own car it won't hurt to find that release so that you can use it to get your whole body out.

4. Women have a tendency to get into their cars after shopping, eating, working, etc, and just sit (doing their checkbook, or making a list, etc..) DON'T DO THIS! The predator will be watching you, and this is the perfect opportunity for him to get in on the passenger side, put a gun to your head, and tell you where to go. AS SOON AS YOU GET INTO YOUR CAR, LOCK THE DOORS AND LEAVE.

Since rapists allegedly look for easy targets then all that would be required is to lock the doors. The latest cases I heard about on the news where women have been attacked in or near their cars was in or around their own garages in neighborhoods which were considered very safe.

Most parking lots are busier than private driveways.

a. If someone is in the car with a gun to your head DO NOT DRIVE OFF, repeat: DO NOT DRIVE OFF! Instead gun the engine and speed into anything, wrecking the car.
Your Air Bag will save you. If the person is in the back seat they will get the worst of it. As soon as the car crashes bail out and run. It is better than having them find your body in a remote location.

This is a possibility under certain circumstances. The most important thing to understand is that promises from gun-toting criminals are meaningless. If someone is carjacked in an area where there no safe place to run then this advice might backfire and the victim might be murdered.

5 A few notes about getting into your car in a parking lot or parking garage:

A.) Be aware: look around you, look into your car, at the passenger side floor, and in the back seat.

B.) If you are parked next to a big van, enter your car from the passenger door. Most serial killers attack their victims by pulling them into their vans while the women are attempting to get into their cars.

C.) Look at the car parked on the driver's side of your vehicle, and the passenger side. If a male is sitting alone in the seat nearest your car, you may want to walk back into the mall, or work, and get a guard/policeman to walk you back out.

Again, awareness is good, but this advice for all women at all times crosses the line into paranoia. It also ignores that most rapists are people you know.

IT IS ALWAYS BETTER TO BE SAFE THAN SORRY. (And better paranoid than dead.)

This juxtaposition is a false one. Being paranoid may do nothing to make most women any safer. Women who follow all of these rules can still be raped. For women who are being stalked then having effective anti-stalking laws will provide more protection than requiring those women to look over their shoulders every second of their life.

6. ALWAYS take the elevator instead of the stairs. (Stairwells are horrible places to be alone and the perfect crime spot. This is especially true at NIGHT!)

Please. If a building's stairwells aren't safe then their elevator isn't safe either unless women can taser any man who tries to get into the elevator car with her.

7. If the predator has a gun and you are not under his control, ALWAYS RUN! The predator will only hit you (a running target) 4 in 100 times. And even then, it most likely WILL NOT be a vital organ. RUN, preferably in a zigzag pattern!

In some situations the advice to run is good, but in some situations such as rural areas where there is a long distance to safety running may not be a viable option.

8. As women, we are always trying to be sympathetic: STOP! It may get you raped or killed. Ted Bundy, the serial killer, was a good-looking, well-educated man, who ALWAYS played on the sympathies of unsuspecting women. He walked with a cane, or a limp, and often asked 'for help' into his vehicle or with his vehicle, which is when he abducted his next victim.

Being sympathetic isn't what got those women killed. A predator is what got those women killed. The example Bundy gave us is that surface attributes are no guarantee of a person's genuine character. If we made people stop doing everything they were doing when someone was raped and/or murdered nobody would ever do anything

9. Another Safety Point: Someone just told me that her friend heard a crying baby on her porch the night before last, and she called the police because it was late and she thought it was weird. The police told her 'Whatever you do, DO NOT open the door.'

The lady then said that it sounded like the baby had crawled near a window, and she was worried that it would crawl to the street and get run over. The policeman said, 'We already have a unit on the way, whatever you do,DO NOT open the door.' He told her that they think a serial killer has a baby's cry recorded and uses it to coax women out of their homes thinking that someone dropped off a baby. He said they have not verified it, but have had several calls by women saying that they hear baby's cries outside their doors when they're home alone at night.

Please pass this on and DO NOT open the door for a crying baby --- This should be taken seriously because the Crying Baby theory was mentioned on America's Most Wanted when they profiled a serial killer in Louisiana.

This story is a hoax.

Forward this to all the women you know. It may save a life. A candle is not dimmed by lighting another candle. Don't just send this to the ladies only, but "guys" too. For the love of mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, etc., pass it onto them, as well.

This is a classic hoax chain mail closing. It might as well say, "Forward this email or someone is going to die."

If people want to reduce the number of rapes this is NOT the way to do it.

In part 3 I will respond to statements about rape by an author which were highlighted in a comment by Sophie in part 1.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:57 AM   1 comments links to this post


At January 20, 2009 6:31 PM, Blogger ~Macarena~ said...

I really appreciate the work you do in researching and writing this blog.

This sounds like someone just wrote up a list on how not to get yourself raped and prefaced it with the allegation about the source. I don't consider rapists any more reliable than the serial killers, like Bundy, whose interviews formed what we supposedly know about such criminals.

get a guard/policeman to walk you back out
This assumes armed officials not only take women seriously, but don't rape.


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