How to prevent being raped series 8 of 10 - Efficient strategies to prevent completed rape

Trauma, abuse and bereavement / Category / Emile Du Toit / October 11th 2014

This 8th blog in the series of 10 on how to prevent being raped discusses efficient strategies to prevent rape. We will begin by differentiating efficient versus inefficient strategies to prevent rape. Then we will take a look at some benefits of self-defence training and finish off with 5 tips for picking a self-defence program.

Efficient strategies to prevent completed rape

Efficient versus inefficient resistance strategies

Resistance strategies refer to physical and verbal strategies that women (or men) may engage in when confronted by a potential rapist(s).

Using using more resistance strategies and resisting immediately are both related to reducing incidences of completed rape. 8. Different types of resistance are related to different odds of suffering completed rape.

I also just want to reiterate a point from the previous blog that fighting back leads to less completed rape and no increase or decrease in physical injury. 6. 9. 10.

1. Ineffective resistance strategies

a. Not actively resisting such as “immobility” or freezing is more likely to result in completed rape. 1. 7. 8.

b. Non-forceful verbal resistance strategies include pleading, crying, and reasoning (e.g., trying to talk the offender out of rape) are all related to greater odds of rape completion. 1. 7. 8.

 

2. Effective Resistance Strategies

a. Forceful verbal resistance

Forceful verbal resistance includes strong verbal responses such as screaming, yelling, and swearing at the attacker. These strategies have been shown to be somewhat effective (compared to average) in avoiding rape, 8. 9. though not always so. 1.

It appears that overall forceful verbal resistance might have some degree of efficacy particularly when responding to offenders who are using verbal threats.

b. Non-forceful physical resistance

Non-forceful physical resistance strategies used by women against attackers include fleeing, guarding one’s body with one’s arms, struggling, and so on. Most research appears to support the view that these forms of physical resistance do somewhat reduce the chance of completed rape and do not alter the risk or level of physically injury.

c. Forceful physical resistance

Forceful physical resistance has been found to be the most effective strategy for avoiding rape, and doesn’t increase the risk of physical harm. 1.

The effectiveness of resistance strategies appears unaffected by the assault situation - location, assailant, alcohol intake etcetera, although more research is needed. 1.

 

Benefits of self-defence training:

Formal self-defence training:
  • enhances women’s psychological well-being and belief that they can avoid rape. 4.  
  • boosts confidence and self-efficacy 2.8.
  • increases their assertiveness
  • enhances their effectiveness to physically resist being raped and so increases their chance of escaping their assailant.
  • helps women to plan their responses for certain potential rape scenarios and increase their general sense of confidence and empowerment. 2.  

As mentioned in last week’s blog if their training enables them to fight back it also reduces the long-term consequences from the trauma of being assaulted, even if they do suffer a completed rape.

 

5 tips for picking a self-defence program

As discussed, fighting back should only be seen as one weapon in the arsenal of a victim. In my opinion though, it is a vital one. These are points to consider when picking a program:

  1. Decide if you are looking for a new sport or just to defend yourself better. Martial arts are excellent forms of exercise and over time you will learn to fight properly and achieve a high level of skill. However, this process will take time. They do not provide a quick defensive system, and if you go in with this goal you will be frustrated and probably drop out. If you are looking for a self-defence program then look for one specifically designed for this purpose.
  2. Find a program that is specifically designed for WOMEN who want to be able to defend themselves against RAPE. Do not be conned into general self-defence programs. You have a particular goal and want to be able to prepare for a particular situation. You want to be able to practice the specific moves necessary for various specific potential scenarios and be able to excel in them. General self-defence classes are just that, and will not maximize your chances of escaping getting raped.
  3. A good self-defence course should focus on mental preparedness just as much as it does physical preparedness.
  4. It also needs to contain a number of hours of actual practice (not just demonstration) of each defence manoeuvre.
  5. Lastly, you should be able to attend refresher courses or sessions, so that the skills you learn can become automatic.

This series on How to prevent being raped will continue next week with part 9 of 10 when we take a look at Effectively Arming Women.

 

References

  1. Clay-Warner, J. (2002). Avoiding rape: The effects of protective actions and situational factors on rape outcome. Violence and Victims, 17, 691-705.
  2. Hollander, J. (2004). “I can take care of myself”: The impact of self-defence training on women’s lives. Violence Against Women, 10, 205-235.
  3. Kleck, G., & Sayles, S. (1990). Rape and resistance. Social Problems, 37, 149-162.
  4. McCaughey, M. (1997). Real knockouts: The physical feminism of women’s self-defence. New York: New York University Press.
  5. Quigley, P. (1989). Armed and female. New York: St. Martin’s.
  6. Quinsey, V. L., & Upfold, D. (1985). Rape completion and victim injury as a function of female resistance strategy. Canadian Journal of Behavioral Science, 17, 40-50.
  7. Scott, H., & Beaman, R. (2004). Demographic and situational factors affecting injury, resistance, completion, and charges brought in sexual assault cases: What is best for arrest? Violence and Victims, 19, 479-494.
  8. Ullman, S. E. (1997). Review and critique of empirical studies of rape avoidance. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 24, 177-204.
  9. Ullman, S. E. (1998). Does offender violence escalate when rape victims fight back? Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 13, 179-192.
  10. Ullman, S. E., & Knight, R. A. (1992). Fighting back: Women’s resistance to rape. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 7, 31-43.

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