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Violence against women

Sexual assault
Learn about rape trauma syndrome, date rape, and the impact of rape on relationships

Domestic violence
Learn why it happens and how to get help.

Child sexual abuse/incest
Learn how to spot child sexual abuse and how to report it.

Sexual assault

Protecting yourself against rape

Of all the things that women have to protect themselves against, rape seems to top the list for almost every woman. Rape is not just a physical assault or even simply a sex crime as most people seem to think, but it is a heinous act of violence that often leaves emotional scars that are very difficult to get rid of. Most victims of rape find it difficult to have normal sexual relationships with others, and often find themselves unable to trust people.

According to statistics, a rape occurs every two minutes in the United States. A staggering 33% of women are likely to be raped at least once in their lives and what is the most shocking part is that in excess of 80% of these rapes will be committed by someone the woman knew. Thus, in such a bleak scenario as far as sexual assault and rape are concerned, every woman should know how to protect herself against this heinous crime. Here are some precautions you can take to ensure that you do not become another rape statistic.

Ways to protect yourself from rape

Be armed

Being armed does not imply that you must carry a gun or a pistol with you. Instead, other safety devices and products that can be as effective as but less deadly than a gun. Mace cans, pepper spray, or even a small folding knife can be extremely effective to deter a potential rapist. These safety products are much easier to procure than a weapon and can be equally handy.

In situations where you are under the threat of rape, you might find yourself in shock or without proper hand-eye coordination. In such situations, a can of pepper foam or mace may in fact be more useful than a regular gun.

In addition to being very effective, safety products are quite cheap too. They are designed in a manner (you can even get lipstick pepper sprays that look like a lipstick) so as to fit in even the smallest of purses: you can always have something handy with which to protect yourself. A great place to get the lipstick pepper spray, as well as numerous other products and devices for self-protection, is www.familyprotectiontech.com.

Be cautious when outdoors

When you are away from home, it is important to be aware of what is going on around you and to be alert. Here are some tactics to use when outdoors.

  • Rapists generally tend to attack women who appear to be walking along aimlessly or who do not seem very active. Thus, by being confident and walking erect and purposefully, you can deter a rapist.
  • If you are walking on the streets, make sure to stay away from narrow alleys or dark streets. Never ever take a shortcut through a rough neighborhood or through deserted paths and always stay on the main street.
  • Do not walk by yourself after dark. Take a cab home or ask a friend to pick you up. If you must walk, make sure you walk quickly and take a route that is not deserted. Keeping your can of mace or pepper spray in your hand is also a good idea.
  • Do not get into an elevator alone with someone you do not know. If you do find yourself alone with a stranger, stay near the exit doors of the elevator and within reach of the control panel.
  • Always know exactly where you are. In case you do find yourself in trouble and have to call for help, you need to know your exact location. A 911 dispatcher will also ask you your location first, so know which area and street you are on.
  • A large number of women get attacked when getting into their cars. Approach your vehicle with your keys in hand. This will save you from having to fumbling for the key. Get into your car as soon as you open it and drive away. As you approach your vehicle, check between parked cars and under your own vehicle; look through the window into your back seat. Assailants may sometimes take advantage of these hiding places before taking their victims completely by surprise. You may wish to attach a small flashlight to your keychain.
Safety at home

The number of women who are raped in their homes is shocking. Here is what you can do to safeguard yourself when at home.

  • The area outside your main entrance should be properly lit so there are no dark shadows in which a potential rapist can hide. You can also purchase a motion sensor that will turn on your outdoor light(s) when movement is detected within a certain distance of your home. These devices are often a good deterrent to thieves as well as rapists.
  • Ensure that your main door has a peephole to allow you to see callers before opening your door. If a stranger is at your door, enquire why he are there and open the door only if you are completely satisfied with his answer.
  • Keep your curtains drawn as far as possible so that people cannot look into your home, especially after nightfall.
  • If you are not expecting any deliveries or any utility service people, do not open the door to such people. If you must, ensure that the safety chain is in place. If unsure as to a caller's purpose or identity (e.g., an enumerator, repairman, canvasser, technician, or meter reader), ask to see his employee identification card or badge. If you are still unsure, you can have him wait outside while you call his company and verify his identity.
  • Always keep your doors locked. Even if you live in an extremely safe neighborhood, you should never leave your gates unlocked even for a few minutes. Many women make the mistake of thinking that a rapist would never dare to enter their home because their area is so well guarded. That could turn out to be a costly mistake. Thus, keep your doors and windows bolted. This includes during short trips to the garage or to the communal mailbox, laundry room, or garbage room/chute.
At a party

There is an alarming increase in the number of date rapes and sexual assaults at social gatherings. To protect yourself when on a date, make sure you do not accept drinks from anyone you don’t know. Even if you do know the person, it is best to get your own drink or have the bartender or waiter serve you directly. If you have left your drink unattended for even half a minute, do not take a sip from that drink again.

Date rape drugs can be mixed into drinks in the blink of an eye and make you the target for date rape. Thus, by being alert to what’s happening around you and by being extremely cautious about what you eat and drink, you can avoid becoming a victim of date rape.

Even though these safety tips may not entirely protect you against rape, at least you will have greatly minimized your chances of becoming a rape victim. Taking some physical defense classes and always carrying safety products such as pepper foam, knives, or mace cans are the best ways of protect ing yourself from rape. After all, you have to take matters into your own hands. If you wait for someone to help you, it could turn out to be too late.

Sexual assault

Web resources

These are third-party resources and links will open a new browser window. As these are third-party resources, Women's Web claims no responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of the information provided.

Men Can Stop Rape
Men Can Stop rape mobilizes male youth to prevent men's violence against women. It does this by building males' capacity to challenge harmful aspects of traditional masculinity, to value alternative visions of male strength, and to embrace their vital role as allies with women and girls in fostering healthy relationships and gender equity.

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