Southeast Missouri State University

Facts About Rape

According to the FBI, one out of three women will be raped during her lifetime. That is one every six minutes somewhere in the United States. Some people have misconceptions about rape. They think the rapist was overcome with sexual desire, the woman was dressed too seductively, the victim "asked for it," or that all women want to be raped.

These ideas assume that rape is a sexual crime--a crime that is motivated by desire. It isn’t! It is a violent crime--a hostile attack and an attempt to hurt and humiliate. Sex is only the weapon.

Rape is a crime. Most states define it legally as sexual intercourse, achieved or attempted without the victim’s consent and with the use of threat or force. Many states now define all forms of sexual conduct carried out against a person’s will as a CRIME--a sexual assault--whether the person is male or female.

This violent crime can happen to anyone: children, grandmothers, students, working women, mothers, wives, the rich and the poor. Perhaps you think that rape happens only in certain high-risk situations: hitchhiking, walking alone at night, or going alone to bars. It’s true that rape can happen in these situations, but many rapes take place in ordinary, seemingly safe places. In fact, about one third of all rapes occur in or near the victim’s home.

The Rapist

Imagine a typical rapist. Whom do you picture? A sex-crazed man? A psychopath? More often than not, these stereotypes are wrong. Most rapists don’t look peculiar or act strangely, but they may be less stable and more aggressive than most people. They are not always strangers to their victims. In over one third of reported cases, the rapist knows the victim.

Myths About Rape

  1. Most rapes occur at night.
    Most rapes actually occur during the day. However, "date rapes" usually occur on weekends and during the evening hours.
  2. Most rapes are not premeditated.
    Most rapes are premeditated with the respect to the time and place, but the rapist may not have chosen the victim that he is going to rape.
  3. Most rapes occur in dark alleys.
    Most rapes actually occur in the victim’s home.
  4. You cannot keep from being raped.
    85% of rapes could have been prevented if the victim had been more aware, better prepared, and more cautious.
  5. Rapists are out for SEX!
    Rapists want to dominate and humiliate. Most rapists are married or have a girlfriend and have sex readily available to them.
  6. Rape is usually committed by strangers.
    More than half of all rapes are committed by someone the victim knows.
  7. Most rapists kill their victim.
    One percent or less of all rapes end in murder. Every woman in every part of society is a potential rape victim. Rapists’ targets range from infants to disabled senior citizens.
  8. The biggest myth is that rape really does not happen that often.
    It does! Few cases are ever reported. For every rape that is reported, ten go unreported. The FBI estimates that there is a rape every 60 seconds in the United States.

Reduce Your Risk

  1. Be alert to your surroundings and the people around you.
  2. Stay in well-lit areas as much as possible.
  3. Walk confidently and directly, at a steady pace.
  4. Walk on the side of the street facing traffic. Walk close to the curb. Avoid doorways, bushes, and alleys.
  5. Wear clothes and shoes that give you freedom of movement. Don’t burden yourself with too many packages.
  6. If you think you are being followed, walk quickly to areas where there are lights and people. If a car follows you, turn and walk in the opposite direction.
  7. Be careful when people stop you for directions. Always reply from a distance, and never get too close to the car.
  8. If in trouble, attract help in any way you can. Scream and yell to draw attention to the situation.

Ways To Prevent Rape At Home

  1. Make sure all doors are solid and sturdy. Entry doors should be solid core wood. Use good locks such as a deadbolt lock with a one-inch throw.
  2. Have your locks changed or re-keyed when you move into a new house or apartment.
  3. Install a peephole viewer in your door.
  4. Install good exterior lighting around your house or apartment building.
  5. Make sure all windows can be locked securely. Special key locks are available for windows.
  6. Secure sliding glass doors the same way. Bolster the existing lock by placing a solid strip of wood or a steel bar in the track of the closed door.
  7. If you live alone, don’t advertise it. Use your first initials and last name on your mailbox and phone listing.
  8. If strangers ask to use your phone in an emergency, offer to make the call for them and ask them to wait outside.
  9. When someone is selling something or making repairs, always check identification before opening the door.
  10. If you come home and find a door or window open or signs of forced entry, do not go in. Go to the nearest phone and call the police.

When Driving or Riding

Rapes also happen in cars and other vehicles. Most take place in the rapist’s car, so be careful about accepting rides from strangers. A casual offer of a ride home from somebody you don’t know or know only slightly could mean trouble. Never hitchhike! If in an emergency you must hitch a ride, follow these tips:

  1. Don’t hitchhike alone or in deserted places.
  2. Accept rides only from women or older couples, not from single men or rowdy groups.
  3. Ask the driver’s destination before telling yours. Refuse rides in cars that have door locks controlled by the driver.
  4. Be aware of the driver’s behavior while you are riding. Sit next to the door and keep keys or a lighted cigarette in your hand to use as weapon if necessary.
  5. If the driver does not take you to your destination, stay calm. Try to get the driver to stop for something to drink or eat, then run to the restroom or ask someone for help. You may find an opportunity to escape.

When Driving Your Own Car

  1. Always lock your car when driving or parked.
  2. Have your keys ready when approaching the car.
  3. Check under the car and in the back seat before you get in.
  4. Park in a well-lit area.
  5. If you think you are being followed, drive to a public place or a police station.
  6. If your car breaks down, open the hood. Stay inside the locked car. If someone stops to help, from inside the car, ask him to call the police.

How To Prevent Date Rape

Date rape, or acquaintance rape, is the most common type of rape. It is defined as forced sexual intercourse occurring between two people who know each other. Following are some tips to avoid becoming a victim of date rape:

  1. Express your sexual limits clearly.
  2. Avoid secluded places. Suggest meeting in public places where people are nearby.
  3. Limit consumption of alcohol and other drugs.
  4. Provide your own transportation. Drive your own car and meet somewhere, or go out with a group or double date.

What You Should Do If You Become A Victim

Many victims of sexual assault do not know what to do or where to turn for help. They may be afraid or ashamed to talk to anybody, or they may try to act as though nothing happened.

If you are assaulted, get help quickly. Call the police. They can take you to a hospital, put you in touch with community services, and get information about the crime from you that will help them arrest the rapist. Never change clothes or shower until you have contacted the police and been examined at the hospital. Most importantly, do not blame yourself for the assault. Seek help through counseling if you are struggling to get through this tough time.

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