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Introduction to Understanding Rape

*WARNING* Our goal is not damage control, it is prevention.

There are many organizations and groups who will help a woman who has been raped with putting her life back together and dealing with rape trauma syndrome (a form of PTSD). They will also help her pursue legal action against her assailant. After a rape occurs establishing emotional stability and a person getting her world back together is desperately needed (and often so too is long-term therapy). This is what we mean by 'damage control.' Those organizations can help a woman deal with the trauma immediately after she's been sexually assaulted.

But that's not what we're about. What we are about is to keep you from being raped in the first place. Two points guide our attitude:

1) No damage control is ever as good as prevention.

2) By the time a situation gets to sexual assault, ALL of your options suck

As astounding as it may sound, these attitudes puts us at odds with many of the popular agendas about rape and their advocates.

What you are going to read on these pages is extremely controversial. In fact, this section has been the source of not only the most hate e-mail we've received, but the most virulent.

There are three reasons we've been taken off so many people's Christmas card list is, in order to prevent something, you have to be pragmatic. Sometimes, uncomfortably so.

The first reason we are unpopular with many is that we approach the subject with other priorities than emotion -- whether that's the emotional fervor and outrage of many advocates or trying to protect the fragile process of reestablishing the victim's well being.  While emotion is a factor in our work, it is NOT our primary concern.

Emotions, blame and outrage are post-incident issues.

Again, our focus is prevention. That means not putting yourself into situations, where no matter what you do, the results will be traumatic. We are about pre-incident issues.

We tell you this now, because if emotions are your priority regarding this subject, stop reading now. You'll only get upset.

The second reason we are unpopular is that we discuss the issue of personal responsibility. Specifically, we're not about 'blame.' We ARE about  understanding the consequences of one's actions -- whether these are intended or unintended consequences.

We will tell you getting so drunk at a party that you pass out is a bad idea.

We'll tell you, if you do that, you are literally setting yourself up to be raped. This, as opposed to the advocate at the Rape Crisis Center who defended passing out drunk surrounded by intoxicated strangers by saying "A girl has the right to have fun."

Our response is: You may have the 'right' to sleep on the train tracks, but that won't prevent you from being hit by a train.

And that brings us to the third reason we're not well liked by people who are more emotional (rather than pragmatic) about this subject.

We look at the behavior of everyone involved. We look at 'what conditions must be present in order for a rape to occur.'

In order to help you avoid being raped, we need to take a good hard look at how rape occurs, rather than how people think it happens. That takes it out of agendas, idealism and visions about how the world 'should be' and puts it into practical things you can do to prevent from being raped.

Because the difference between how you think rape happens and how itactually happens can be the same difference as to whether you are raped or not.

A Look at How Rape Really Happens

Any number of women think of rape as a stranger jumping out of the bushes and sexually assaulting her. This is a good news and bad news situation.

The good news is that the "jump out the bushes rapist is A) the rarest type and B) the easiest to avoid and prevent.

The same measures that keep you from being robbed will protect you from being sexually assaulted in this manner. So the odds of this happening to you are pretty rare to start with and a little bit of knowledge and a few simple, commonsense measures will greatly reduce those odds even further.

Now, for the really good news, if you are not associating with a certain kind of people or engaging in high risk behaviors, the odds of you being raped plummet close to zero.

Unfortunately, that is the last of the good news. The bad news is that the reality of rape is not simple. It is, in fact, a complex problem. And complex problems seldom, if ever, have simple solutions.

An undisputed truth is that "stranger" rapes only constitute a minute number of rapes. An overwhelming majority of sexual assaults occur between people who know one another. Sometimes intimately, sometimes peripherally, but it is someone you have regular dealings with.

That means it is not just a simple "crime" nearly as much as it's a twisted extension and extreme of human interaction. That is where things start getting complicated.

With that complication, however, comes a very important point: The very fact that it is a matter of human interaction gives you influence on what happens -- including whether or not it even happens. Rape is not something that just happens out of the clear blue sky. This means: Being sexually assaulted is something you have a large degree of control over whether or not it happens to you.

But this control is a double edged sword; your decisions, words and actions have a major effect -- for both good and bad results. What you do effects the outcome. Therefore a big part of not being raped is based on what you do to prevent putting yourself into a situation where you could be raped! And if you do find yourself in a developing rape situation , doing effective action to prevent it.

What we can definitely say about rape

While you cannot come up with exact numbers you can come up with known trends when it comes to rape. These trends are very common to rape and are -- at least in principle -- mostly agreed upon by those in the field.

Most rapes/sexual assaults are not reported to the police.Unfortunately this is true. For whatever reason -- and there are many -- most women choose not to go to the police and report the incident. This leaves us with only the Uniform Crime Report as a source of reliable numbers.

What is common, however, is women who have been sexually assaulted will confide in a friend... usually of the same age. If someone you know confides in you about such event, even if you cannot convince her to go to the police, at least encourage her to get some counseling/therapy.Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a common emotional/mental result of being raped. PTSD can -- and will -- manifest in many different destructive ways in your friend's life.

Many women after being raped do not seek professional help

As much as it may seem that we are against rape crisis centers, we aren't. It is just that often we find ourselves at logger heads with their agenda because we are focused on prevention. They specialize in victim's assistance(2). As such they do provide valuable assistance to traumatized women. If you have been raped go to a rape crisis center, a women's center, church counseling,  victim's assistance, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder  counseling, psychologists, therapy and even the local victim's assistance program in the front of the local phone book. Do not try to deal with the long term effects by yourself.

The truth is that trauma has a long term effect on you. Furthermore it will effect you in areas that you will not expect. If you try to suppress feelings and emotions, the effects will leak out in other areas. In time, these repressed problems can develop into other problems. For example, in attempting to deal with the feelings and problems arising from suppression, people tend to try to self-medicate. In doing so one can become addicted to drugs or alcohol. But the truth is the process and pitfalls of recovery is well known to professionals. They can help you find the best path and avoid the pitfalls. This is why it is important to seek some kind of counseling or help.

While it is tempting only to talk to your friends about what occurred, although they are your friends they are not qualified to handle the enormity of what has occurred. Please, we strongly encourage you to seek professional counseling.

There is a reason rape charges are usually handled with a degree of skepticism by the policeThe admittedly low numbers  reported to police do not accurately reflect the whole spectrum of rape. But they do provide aspects that many advocates would rather you ignore. An example of this is that law enforcement admits that of rapes reported to them approximately 10% usually are found to be "without merit." (3). This doesn't just mean that wasn't rape, it often means it is an angry woman who is trying to get back at someone by claiming that he raped her. Another source of this behavior is claiming that consensual sex was rape. The sad truth is this can happen for many different reasons: a married/involved women being caught having an affair, a woman engaged in prostitution trying to avoid prosecution or even -- and this sound like a thriller novel, but it does happen -- a political/social assassination of someone's career or standing in the community.

The charge of rape can be a very destructive tool in the hands of a vindictive person or someone who is trying to avoid repercussions for her actions. For example we know of  a group of under-aged  partiers at a college. The males, who were from another college, were too intoxicated to drive so the equally drunk girls snuck them into the girls dorm at their college to spend the night. But that wasn't the end of the sneaking. One of the women and one of the men snuck off and were having sex  in the bathroom late at night. In the middle of their passion an RA walked in. The drunk woman realizing she was facing all kinds of trouble because of previous violations, claimed she didn't know him and she was being raped. The police were called and the entire floor was awakened. When the other men were discovered in various dorm rooms all the intoxicated partiers were taken to the police station. Her story quickly unraveled when other people were interviewed. We know of this story because one of the under-aged drinkers was our daughter and the woman was her roommate. Our daughter and everyone else in the group had seen them pawing each other earlier that evening. One of them had seen them leaving the room together.

That story exemplifies another reason why claims of rape are so often looked upon with caution by law enforcement. Usually even in cases where it is rape, other illegal, prohibited or questionable behaviors are involved. Behaviors that the woman often doesn't want to admit to.

Most rapes are committed by someone the woman knows.

This doesn't mean that "every male you know is a potential rapist." As stated elsewhere, it is an established fact that stranger rapes only constitute a minute number of rapes. The exact number however is often debated. It is conservatively estimated that only between 10 and 13 percent of all rapes are committed by strangers. Sometimes this estimation can go even as low as only 7 percent. However that number does not go above 15 percent by any reputable agency. That means even if you take the conservative numbers 87 to 90 percent of all rapes are by someone the victim knows.

These numbers take it out of popular perception about most rapes being "jump out of the bushes" and put them into a far more subtle and grey shaded category. That of human interactions, emotions, sexual conduct and expectations.

This is why there is no "easy answer" about rape and who is to blame.

That's the bad news. The good news, however, is that you can greatly reduce your risk of being raped by choosing who with you associate with, learning about the sexual process, understanding boundaries  -- both yours and other people's -- and understanding your powers and responsibilities.

Rapists tend to be violent in other ways.

Dr David Lisak interviewed 1882 men associated with a college on the subject of interpersonal violence. Of this, he found that 120 admitted to committing rapes among their many acts of violence. Of these 76 (63%) reported multiple rapes. This is the much touted "source" for claim that 'all rapists are serial rapists' when, in fact, these men exhibited a wide variety of violent behaviors.

They were violent and abusive to pretty much anyone they came in contact with -- including children. It wasn't necessarily that they were consistently rapists nearly as much as they were just consistently violent. Rape was more often just one of the many ways they exhibited this violence. This is again why strongly encourage people to look at the rapist profile that identifies traits common to individuals who are likely to rape.

Most rapes involve alcohol or drugs.

While not the "cause" of rape, an overwhelming majority of sexual assaults occur while one or both parties are under the influence.

This because of the effects of alcohol on the higher functions of the brain. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. What that means is that it physically suppresses the brain and nervous system's ability to function. But it effects these in a very specific way. Alcohol doesn't hit everything equally or at the same time. Think of a draining a pool; a pool that has different depths. As the pool drains the overall water level drops. Certain areas dry up first, while others will still have water. That's kind of how alcohol affects your brain, it lowers the water level.

The brain functions as a layered mechanism. Think of these different layers as the different depths in a pool. Much of our daily activity occurs on the "top of the pool." The depths are always there, but  most of your mental "swimming" uses the higher levels and functions of your brain. Alcohol peels away layers the drunker one gets. The first layer to go is the higher brain functions. In essence alcohol torpedos the ability to think rationally, consider consequences of actions and removing social inhibitions.

This is why drinking can be fun. It helps you let go of your inhibitions and daily thinking. With each successive drink another level is peeled away, until you get to the levels that controls basic functions like speech and basic motor control (the deep end of the pool). That is why people who are extremely drunk  stagger, slur their words, fall down and pass out. However,  a medium buzz is in the middle. The person will have lost a degree of fine motor control (but isn't falling down drunk yet), but what is long gone is the higher brain functions that control things like rationality, inhibitions, responsibility and understanding consequences. You have a couple of drinks and something that you'd not do sober looks like a good idea.

Unfortunately, it also can remove the mental stops and inhibitions that keep a violent person in check. See with some people there are very nasty and ugly things swimming around at the bottom of their pool. Ordinarily, the higher functions of their brains keep these things in check. The problem with alcohol is every layer that is removed brings you closer to that part of them. A good analogy is imagine a big vicious dog that wants to bite someone. Ordinarily it is kept on a chain so it can't attack, but it is always pulling at that chain. Except now, alcohol is taking a file to those chain links, weakening it. Sooner or later, the chain holding the dog back is going to break and it will run over and bite you.

A big part of the problem is that usually people with mean streaks in them are always looking for an excuse to let it out. They want to do something violent and mean, but they know they shouldn't (higher brain function inhibition). So what they do is go out and find "excuses" to let this part of them out. Alcohol is a great excuse.

So say there is such a guy who wants to have sex with you, but you don't want to have sex with him. He's been after you and you've turned him down, but he just doesn't let up trying to get your attention. What he might do is proceed on a course of action where he starts drinking. Then somewhere along the process it will "occur" to him that he wants to "talk" with you. Then he will somehow find a way to position himself to be alone with you. And then he will attempt to push his case.

In weather terms this is the "perfect storm." You're isolated with him, his inhibitions are lowered, he's functioning on a far more primal level and he's obsessing on you. It is a combination of elements that only takes one more in order for it to explode. And that's you giving him the final excuse he needs. Now while some people will go off if you are too passive, what is FAR more likely to set him off is your anger. Remember the key word about letting that part of him out ... an excuse. As far as he's concerned he's the victim here. You're the one not having sex with him and then you get insulting and angry at him?

We're not joking about this, how many times has a drunk told you that they are being rational when all they are is drunk? Except in this case the drunk isn't going to say the same thing 16 times. That ugly thing that is usually kept in check is going to attack. Your anger, your words and -- unfortunately all too often -- your ineffective use of force -- is going to give him the excuse he needs in order to attack you (4).

This is an example of how alcohol can be a contributing factor to rape when just he is drinking. Think about how it can happen if you both are drinking.

The most at risk ages are between 16 -24

It is during this time that both men and women are most likely to be involved in the bonding process and high risk behaviors. Beyond that age group people tend to have settled down and are less likely to engage in behaviors that increase their chances of being raped.

Key Considerations

Assumption of Power Do women have power? We believe they do. However, often the nature of power is misunderstood - especially by the young.

Beware Ye Young Romans, Who Would Venture Among Barbarians

One of the bigger mistakes young people can make is to assume that because they are breaking 'the rules' of where they come from, that there are NO rules at all. This is especially true when it comes to 'partying.' No matter where you go, there are rules. And violating those rules has consequences -- especially in less-than-civilized circles. Using the analogy of Romans and Barbarians we discuss how your assumptions about people will behave can get you into deep trouble

Body Sacrosanct

Inherent in the paradigm of certain people (especially within certain cultural and socio-economic levels) is the assumption that their body is sacrosanct. They believe they cannot be touched without their consent, much less attacked. This core belief can -- and does -- have a strong influence on their actions. Actions that often increase their danger. Unfortunately, this unconscious paradigm greatly adds to the trauma of being assaulted.

Bonding Process (Human Mating Behavior)

Although many claim rape isn't about sex, rape is a parasite that hides within a very normal human behavioral pattern. A process that sex is pivotal to. This page explains Dr Desmond Morris's 12 step 'Bonding Process' and how, via this process humans establish intimacy. Once you know this process, you can see how easily rape can occur when the process goes wrong -- especially date rape.

Facts About Rape

Our attorney has a saying, "Everyone knows what what something means until there is a problem." By this he means that the same word can have different meanings to different people. This can become a major problem when everyone is using the same word, but meaning different things. Unfortunately, this idea applies in spades to the topic of rape. We discuss the facts, myths and misconceptions about rape

Five Stages of Violent Crime

In order for ANY crime to occur, fundamental criteria need to be developed. It is impossible for a crime to occur if the criteria is not met. In fact, the crime can be non-violently aborted by changing the circumstances to prevent the criteria from being met. The problem is that the same conditions that allow for Bonding Process can be turned into conditions necessary for date rape. Both date rape and the conditions necessary for acquaintance rape fall into 'The Five Stages of Crime' and are therefore recognizable and actionable.

High Risk Behavior

Let us start by stating our definition of High Risk Behavior isn't based in moralizing. The simple fact is that a wild party girl (who knows the rules) can be safer among bikers than a 'good girl' on a date with a 'Prince Charming' (who isn't). We define High Risk Behavior as: Any behavior that puts you into circumstances where violence is probable. It's what you do in those circumstances that will determine whether or not you will be attacked.

High Risk Behavior and Perceived Profit

Whether you use the "violence is probable" or the "moralizing" definition of High Risk Behavior there is self-interest underlying the decision making process. To be more specific the perception of self-interest -- unintended consequences are a whole different issue. Still we can never underestimate of the appeal of HRB. Because face it, often high risk behavior is fun.

High Risk Behavior And Rape

Politics, religion, gun control, abortion, they have nothing over the kind of frothing-at-the-mouth fanaticism that you'll encounter when you bring up the subject of high risk behavior and rape. Well, we hate to be the ones to break tradition, but we're going to take a rational look at the subject.

Is It REALLY About Self-Defense?

A lot of people get into so-called self-defense training for reasons that have nothing to do with actual self-defense. On the Is It REALLY about SD? page we take a hard look at an elephant in room that people don't want to admit to.

Lethal Force to Prevent Rape

A big reason why we advocate rape avoidance is that ... realistically ... you may have to kill someone to prevent him from raping you. That is a horrible set of choices to have to make, but it is a reality of what it can take not to be raped.

Personal responsibility vs. Blame vs. Rights When it comes to rape a HUGE conflict exists over the issues of personal responsibility, rights and blame. In fact, it is nearly impossible to talk about this subject without a fight breaking out. What one person considers to be personal responsibility, another feels is trying to 'blame the victim.' The issue has become so heated and controversial that most people are afraid to talk about it. Our attitude is that since you are the one who is likely to get raped if you don't take some personal responsibility, it's worth talking about.

Pr iorities/Escape

Establishing your priorities and escaping from a potential rape

Profile of a Potential Rapist

Simply stated, the oft parroted clich?of "All men are potential rapists!" causes more damage than it prevents. Basically it is either dismissed as paranoia or it creates paranoia. However, while it is impossible to predict who will, or won't, rape (or abuse) there are certain character traits that lend themselves to these behaviors. While not all men are a potential rapist or abuser, men with certain characteristics have a much higher potential. Learn what these characteristics are and make sure you're never alone with someone who has them.

Provoking An Attack

Here's another reason we're not on the Christmas Card List of so many rape advocates. But a raw truth is that rape is often substituted for a man beating a woman senseless -- as he would do to another man. He is attacking out of fury and rage over the woman's actions. When the outrage of it being a sexual assault is removed, the pre-assault behavior of both parties is common to what is known as a FIGHT! And that old saw "It takes two to fight" comes home to roost. Putting it bluntly, there are certain behaviors that will get you attacked! The reason this link is on the Rape Page, is that after engaging in these behaviors it is not uncommon -- like the loser of a fight -- for the rape 'victim' to blame the attacker. When in fact, the assault could have been avoided!

Pyramid of Personal Safety

The Pyramid of Personal Safety is a comprehensive, multi-level approach to ways to ensure your safety. Once you understand the basic idea behind it is extremely easy to put into effect.

Reduced Capacities

It's hard to avoid being raped if through drugs and alcohol you've reduced your capacities to out maneuver, out think and resist a rapist . Some rule of thumb rules about partying safely.

Safe Dating

What can you do to decrease potential problems on a date? Safe dating tips


Self-defense is a smaller subtopic of the larger issue of personal safety. But even then many people have serious misconceptions about what self-defense is.

Self-Defense Training

So how do you find good self defense training? Here's a quick rundown of what needs to be in a good self defense training program, much less a women's self defense program. If these points aren't being taught, it isn't self defense.

Stopping Break-in Rapists

The really good news is that the same precautions that will stop a burglar will stop a break in rapist. With a few simple steps you can protect yourself from both

Unintended Consequences

Why is it so traumatic when things go violent? A huge part of the problem is that most people were not only not mentally prepared for violence to occur, but because of how they were thinking that option wasn't even considered. As such they face both the shock and trauma of the violence, but also the psychological fall into unintended consequences.

Using Ineffective Violence To Stop Rape

Should you resist? We vote 'yes.' But understand what you need to do in order to be effective.

Western Ethics and Self-Defense

Often popular Western philosophy is diametrically opposite to what you have to do to survive. Before you can reconcile these differences you need to take a look at what they are and where they come from.

Women's Self Defense Training is NOT a substitute for Therapy Many people come to WSD training without a clear idea of what is involved in that which they want to protect themselves from. While they know they don't want to be raped or attacked, they don't know the technicalities of how these acts happen. Therefore they don't know whether or not they are receiving reliable -- or even germane -- information. Unfortunately, many WSD programs have shifted away from nuts and bolts information about crime and rape prevention and now focus on "empowerment." Many now provide courses that are functionally pop-psychology courses on self-esteem building. Which, while it may make you feel good, does very little about keeping you safe from violence. This page is takes a hard look at trying to solve personal and emotional issues through self-defense training.


Rape Statistics

Benjamin Disraeli once commented that there are three kinds of lies: Lies, damned lies and statistics. Unfortunately, because of years of systematic manipulation and dishonesty, the credibility of rape statistics coming from advocacy groups is largely unreliable. The real numbers are always bad enough, but the tendency to over-exaggerate does no one -- except the advocate group -- any benefit.

Recognize a simple economic reality. Crisis centers and advocacy groups rely on funding. While they also commonly rely on volunteer help, the money that keeps the lights on and doors open comes tends to come from government resources. The fact is there are lots of other programs that are all competing for the same funding. This makes for an extremely cut throat approach to not only keeping one's, but increasing, funding. One of the best ways to do this is have a popular, well attended program. Failing that, another way to achieve this is to overstate the numbers and promote alarmist rhetoric.

The problem with lying for a good cause is that it is still lying and it destroys your credibility.

The following section is dedicated to why most commonly tossed about numbers regarding rape are wrong and alarmist. Unfortunately, these numbers are the foundation of much of the other misinformation about rape that is out there. If you are just interested in points about rape that pretty much everyone agrees on skip down to What we can definitely say about rape

Reliable sources?

It is a well known fact that the numbers of reported rapes are much lower than the number of the rapes that actually occurred. For example, pretty much everyone in the field agrees that the number of reported rapes committed in 2002 of 94,634 by the Uniform Crime Report is low. Nobody is going to argue that fact, not even the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

However,  beyond that point we get into pure speculation.

Back in the 1990s, Rape Crisis Centers would often quote numbers like "for ever ten women who comes to us for help, only one will want to report the rape to the police"  Then, using that number, they estimated from there. You'd then be told that for every woman that came to them, nine more women who were also raped don't.

Let's for the moment, suspend the commonsense question of "How do you know the numbers of the women who don't come to you?".

While we're at it, let's even overlook the dropped qualifier of "estimated." A qualifier that turned the statement from speculation into something being presented as a fact. (It's called a 'bare assertion fallacy')

So let's pretend we didn't see those problems. Even so, we're talking a magnitude of math that should make you sit back and blink. As in: If these numbers are right then no woman should go outside without an armed, eunuch bodyguard.

To begin with, this "one in ten number of reported rapes" is unsubstantiated. It is a mythical number that we are expected to take on faith. We are not allowed to see the source numbers. To this day, Rape Crisis Centers will notreveal information about their cases (the raw numbers) claiming confidentiality. Nor will they show you the aggregate data they used to come up with their statistics (i.e. not the actual incident reports, but numbers used. For example: Of the 150 cases used in this study, in 93 both parties were under the influence of alcohol.) You are instead expected to take the statistical percentages presented without questioning the methodology (or definitions) used to arrive at them.

What is interesting is how often these organizations will not even release the number of cases they dealt with to the public. Yet you know these numbers have to be known because they have to be presented for funding. review.

But where are the hard numbers? This "one in ten" claim lacked the credibility of stating "In 1998 we dealt with 952 women who (said they) were raped. Of them only 95  were willing to go to the police and file a report"  Yet you will hardly ever encounter that kind of accuracy -- then or now.

What you will encounter is estimates based on questionable numbers arising from protected and loosely defined sources.

Speaking from a purely mercenary standpoint, that's a smart thing to do when it comes down to groups relying on public funding because the bigger the crisis, the more money they can ask for. People's imaginations will carry them farther with vague "one in ten" rather than hard numbers. Because face it, in a city of 1,000,000 people 952 rapes -- while not good -- isn't as pressing as a public service that effects many more people.

*Warning* statistics ahead. Like we said before: If you are just interested in points about rape that pretty much everyone agrees on skip down to What we can definitely say about rape

There's a reason the "One in Ten" approach  faded. Let's run with squaring that number. Let's say that there were 500 rapes reported in a major city in a year. That means that the rape crisis centers would have dealt approximately with 5000 (500 x10). Now if we use the same math to speculate about the unreported rapes, we end up with 50,000 rapes occurring in a city every year. 49,500 being unreported to any authorities. This is why we said the numbers should make you blink. 49,000 women are raped in silence in the city you live in every year? Somehow the idea of everyone  50,000 women being raped every year in one city and it not causing a major uproar is highly unlikely. This is especially true in looking at that number over five years. According to this math, in five years a quarter of a million women would be raped within city limits.

That's what you get when you talk about only 10%. It sounds good, until you do the math. It's kind of like putting a grain of rice on a chessboard square and doubling it on consecutive squares. The numbers rapidly become outrageous. Why do we say this? Remember, we're talking in that city alone.Nationwide if that 10% statement were true we're talking about hundreds of millions of women sexually assaulted every year and in this country alone.

So the ten times ten trend faded away. But now, the new number is 16%. Where sixteen came from we have no idea. But in the last few years, we've heard it used over and over. Whether it is only 16% of rapes are reported (well that's up from 10% ) to "It is estimated a serial rapist has committed 16 prior rapes before he is caught."

Now on this one we have documented numbers. In Denver in 2003 there were 354 forcible rapes reported. 29 were discovered to be unfounded (which is another problem with getting accurate numbers about rape) So the actual numbers of rapes came in 325. Taking  both numbers and a quote from the official Denver Website we find "The Rape Assistance and Awareness Program estimates that this number only represents 16% of the total incidents of sexual violence, which suggests that 7,500 incidents of sexual violence occurred in Denver in 2003."

325 to 7,500? Seven thousand, five hundred women were raped and only 325 came forth? 7175 women didn't say a word? Excuse us, but the mafia has a higher 'squeal rate.'

*Warning* the following section is about changing definitions to inflate numbers. Are you sure you don't want to skip to What we can definitely say about rape?

To start with, what you think of as 'rape' and what these groups consider rape may not be the same thing. These groups have come up with all kinds of interesting variations and shadings all of which are lumped under the title of rape. Then you have to realize that "rape" and "sexual violence" are not necessarily the same thing. But when they are used in the same sentence it is natural for people to assume they are.

By including this second category one can greatly enhance the numbers. Furthermore, the definition of "sexual violence" is somewhat hazy, it apparently can range from everything from sexual torture to a drunk pawing you at a party to a husband/boyfriend swatting you on the butt. While the former is obviously sexual violence, if one were to include the lower end incidents into the mix then you can see how they reached the 7,500 number.

And aren't 7,500 incidents of rape and sexual violence worth more funding than 325?

Even a passing acquaintance with the statistical process will often reveal how these numbers can be, and often are, spun -- especially since most of the sources are either anonymous or misquoted. So-called "facts" from "reliable" sources are often misinterpreted and distorted.

Unfortunately, these distortions of the truth and on occasion outright lies (1) are not only used to boost funding. They also serve to further enrage the already outraged personality type that is so often drawn to these organizations.

What is less obvious, however, is the damage to the group's credibility with the very people they claim to represent and claim to be advocates for. Putting it bluntly, most women have a very hard time accepting such radical statements as "All men are potential rapists" of the men in their lives that they love or deal with on a regular basis. What started out as a well meaning warning to acquaint women with the potential danger of rape was turned into a stance of extreme paranoia and anger. One that most women are not interested in accepting.

Introduction to How to Avoid Rape

Avoiding rape is only easy if you understand what is going on within yourself, in your surroundings and haven't blindly put yourself into a high risk situation.

Without these factors you will not be mentally prepared to do what you have to do in order to prevent being raped. Whether that is to escape or break his jaw or kill him -- in a rape situation you may be called upon to do any of these option. Blindly putting yourself into a situation where your choices are be raped or commit extreme violence never has good results.

The entire hub is a study in how complex the issue of rape is and how you must be aware of your own assumptions, your power, it's  effects, unconscious impulses, your biological imperatives, anger, beliefs about violence, misconceptions about self-defense and personal safety -- as well as knowing who it isn't safe to be alone with, especially if you've been drinking or doing drugs. That's a lot of stuff we cover in the Safe Dating page.

A huge problem about avoiding being raped is that it is a dangerous situation that doesn't look dangerous from one perspective. Yes, it strange and often highly emotional situation, but WHO DOESN'T FACE THOSE ALL THE TIME?!? Why should this one be any different?

But as you will soon see, from another perspective those same circumstances will even cause professionals (who deal with crime and violence regularly) to start having kittens. Looked at from another perspective, what you may think is simply annoying and obnoxious, is a screaming danger signal.

But until you understand why one thing can be annoying (but safe) and another the whistle of a runaway training barreling towards you, you're not going to realize you are in danger. And if you don't realize you're in danger, how can you be prepared to handle it?   You may think that you'd be able to handle it, but as countless thousands of women who are raped every year discover the hard way -- they couldn't handle the situation they found themselves in.

In short, if you go into dangerous situation without being prepared, you're going to get hurt.

And by being prepared we don't just mean having a list of "I'll just do this if it ever happens" There's a giant gap between intellectually 'knowing' something and being mentally prepared to do whatever it takes to stop from being raped.

This is why we strongly suggest -- if you have just arrived on this page through a search engine -- that you go get yourself a cup of coffee, come back to the computer, go to the Rape Hub and be prepared to spend the next few hours reading. It's that big of a subject.

To help you avoid being raped, we're going to tell you a story.

A near Rape Story

A number of years ago Marc's ex came to him about a problem with one of her classmates/friend. At a trade school they attended, a large male student had developed an obsession with the female classmate. The classmate had initially  tried to be polite and keep him at a distance, but the male student became more and more unstable and obsessive. He continually tried to talk to her and -- in the classroom -- would find excessive reasons to touch her.

Realize this was a culinary school. In a professional kitchen there is a lot of communication and physical contact for safety reasons(1). But even given these parameters, he was excessive in his talking and touching. On the touching part, he was continually offering her backrubs (and on two occasions walking up and without being given permission and attempting to do so). Needless to say at first she was uncomfortable, but then she became angry with him. And the weirder his behavior became the more outraged she got.

This odd behavior escalated to the point of one evening, after staring at her all night, he disappeared into the men's room. He returned 15 minutes later with a ... shall we say, 'glazed' expression. Any way you cut it, this is an "ewwww" situation. The other students reacted in a mix of disgust and course humor. The  female classmate was furious. Not only was she disgusted, but she was outraged over this public humiliation. However, when she confronted him, he laughed in her face. Realizing that this was way beyond normal, Marc's ex came home and explained what was going on.

Marc hit the roof.

Years of experience with dealing with crime and violence told him that this was a VERY dangerous situation. One that was about to reach critical mass. All it would take is certain conditions to be 'accidentally' created, one small misstep by the woman and she would be attacked. What was obnoxious, socially unacceptable behavior from one perspective, was -- to his experienced perspective -- at best a physical assault brewing. But more likely a rape about to happen. This wasn't just the whistle of a runaway train, this was the vibration coming up your feet. And this woman was standing dead on the tracks.

Calling the classmate to come over to their apartment, Marc listened in growing horror, not as his suspicions were confirmed. His horror wasn't about the circumstances, but over the fact that the woman was so angry that she didn't see the danger. All she could see/imagine/think about was her emotional outrage at being treated this way.

Marc asked what she planned to do about the situation. Upon hearing her answer, it took every bit of self-control he had not to drag her to the airport and send her home to her parents and safety. Her plan was to once again confront him and "tell him what she thought of him and his behavior."


Given the circumstances, that was the functional equivalent of putting a loaded gun to her head and pulling the trigger. Sticking with the runaway train analogy it, it was the equivalent of announcing that she was going to charge the train and yell at it.

Despite Marc telling her that would only provoke an attack, she insisted that is what she was going to do. All she could see was her own outrage and not the danger of the situation. Despite his past of dealing with crime and violence, she thought Marc was overstating the danger. Finally, Marc was able to extract a promise from her that if -- by some odd happenstance -- she were ever to find herself alone with him when he had been drinking she'd not try that strategy.

In fact, she should run ... fiercely.

This advice was especially relevant as that particular 'class' was advanced enough in the program to be attending school at night. Marc also told his girlfriend to go to the school administration the next afternoon and explain what was going on. She did. Fortunately, the president of the school was a woman, who immediately recognized the danger. She called in the female classmate and confirmed the situation. Once again the classmate was told not to confront the male student -- especially while alone. Again the advice fell on anger deaf ears.

Not two nights later, the obsessed student wasn't in class. A lot of ribbing and teasing occurred about the classmate's "boyfriend' not being present was done by the other students. Again she informed anyone who would listen how she was going to verbally "let him have it." At the end of the night the students and staff either left or went to their offices, leaving Marc's girlfriend and the classmate as the remaining few.

Finishing up before her friend, Marc's girlfriend walked out into the parking lot. Where she was hailed from the shadows by the obsessed male student.

  • He was waiting in a deserted parking lot.
  • He was drunk.
  • He was asking about the classmate
  • He wanted to 'talk' to her.

Thinking quickly Marc's girlfriend said that 'yes, the classmate was still there, but that she had to go somewhere.' In fact, 'he should stay there and she'd go in and get her.'  This was good thinking. Realize that Marc's girlfriend,although not the primary target could have become the target of his rage. That's why she needed to get out of that parking lot too.

Going back inside she grabbed her friend and informed her that the danger she had dismissed was waiting for her outside. And if she walked out that door alone, she would be raped -- or at least physically assaulted. Fortunately a male student named Art was still there (a 6' 5" monster from Brooklyn). Marc's girlfriend explained what was outside and he agreed to run interference. The three of them exited. Although the obsessed classmate tried to talk to her the classmate confirmed Marc's girlfriend's story of her 'having to leave' and quickly drove away. Art, being friendly and jovial and under the guise of talking to the drunk, gave both women cover to safely escape.

The next day incident was reported to the president of the school and the obsessed student was transferred out of the class. Although nothing went onto his record, he was also 'told' he was under close observation for the remainder of the semester (which fortunately was both very short and graduation). Shortly there after, being in different states resolved any further problems.

Now officially speaking nothing happened(2). This story doesn't end with a woman being raped or a drunk, would-be rapist being put in the hospital. And in our book, that makes it a raging success. No matter what else: She didn't get raped!

Furthermore she walked away from that situation with an understanding that no matter what she thought of a situation, it's important to pull back from one's own emotions and take a look at it from a different perspective.

As you read the following points, keep this story in mind and see where the ideas we're talking about apply to the story.


Don't Put Yourself in a Situation Where You Could Be Raped

At first glance, this is the biggest "NO DUH!" statement we could make. And yet, it is something that the nearly 100,000 US women -- who are raped every year -- didn't manage! So obviously this idea needs to be looked at more closely.

Realize that rape -- no matter what kind --  doesn't just come out of nowhere.

Like all crime, it is a process! The process takes time to develop! Certain conditions must be met. Learn to recognize what they look like so when you see someone trying to develop them, you'll know this situation ISN'T normal -- nor is it safe. There are certain conditions that ONLY exist together when things aren't kosher. The better you are at situational awareness, the easier it will be to spot a developing situation.

Realize that the situation can develop in one night OR as in the case of the story you've just read, it can take months to slowly escalate to the point of crisis. Believe it or not, those are the hardest ones to spot coming because often the woman's anger, emotions and suppositions about the situation blind her to the developing danger. Like the woman in the story, her outrage over what she thought the situation still was, didn't let her see what it had become.

We've talked about the rapist profile elsewhere. Simply stated, there are certain people that you don't want to be alone with.

This goes double if he's been paying undo interest towards you.

This goes triple if he's been drinking

This goes quadruple if you've been drinking.

Be especially concerned if you 'accidentally' run into him in these conditions. We cannot stress this idea strongly enough. These conditions combined with isolation are the green light for rape.

Realize the fact that because rape is a process that takes time to develop, YOU have the opportunity to recognize the developing danger and take steps to avoid it. And if you can't avoid the situation going physical, you've bought yourself time enough time to mentally prepare to do what you must in order to prevent being raped.

We cannot stress enough the importance of giving yourself time to maneuver and change your mindset. If you don't give yourself that, the chances of you avoiding/preventing a rape are about the same as you successfully head butting that runaway train barreling down on you.

Avoid Isolation

If you have even the slightest doubt about someone stay in public with him. Do NOT go off alone with him ... and by this we especially mean don't accept offers of rides in his car from him. (One of the draw backs of being an independent woman is that you have to turn down rides of convenience that could get you raped). Oh BTW, going over alone to a couple of guys apartment alone does NOT constitute safety and not being isolated (you're now isolated with TWO guys).

If someone you know is giving off weird vibes, the same rule about staying in public with him applies. Understand the significance of fringe areas and why they are dangerous. Weird vibes + fringe area= bad juju.

Also realize -- in a house full of people -- you can put yourself into a fringe area with a potential rapist by simply being isolated in a room with him. Whether you willingly go in there together or he follows you, you're in a fringe area. If you sense something is wrong, GET BACK TO THE GROUP!

A game you can play to teach yourself about fringe areas is, as you go about your daily business, begin to notice when you are in situations where it would take at least 30 seconds for someone to get to you. Something a simple as glancing around a mall parking lot as you are walking to your car can begin to acquaint you with how to spot fringe areas. This skill goes beyond just rape, it very much an overall personal safety issue. Also realize that walls are NOT your friend. Although technically you are only a few feet away from someoneon the other side of a wall, that wall will prevent them from knowing that they need to come to you aid -- especially if there is music playing. (See why we say you can be in a fringe area even though there are people in the house?)

On the other hand, we don't want you to be paranoid. Realize one of the nice things about being alone in a big parking lot is that you ARE alone. It's not what-if someone creepy shows up, it's that there are no creepy people there. The same time that it would take for someone to come to your assistance is also the same time it would take for a bad guy to get close to you. But that's only IF you let him. A nice thing about big deserted spaces is that you have lots of room to move to keep someone away from you.

Do NOT Incapacitate Yourself

The basic rule of thumb to avoid rapes, drunk driving charges, destroyed cars and getting killed in accidents is NEVER get hammered any place where you aren't planning to spend the night. And don't ever spend the night somewhere that you don't know and trust everyone there.

And -- 'Oh, he's cool' does not constitute trusting someone.

If someone is around who has certain characteristics common to rapists, then as much as you may not like the idea, getting crawling on your lips drunk that evening is off the schedule of events.

In Marc's old neighborhood there was an attitude of "Don't make it easier to kill you than to leave you alive, you won't like the results." In the same vein, "Don't get drunk with a rapist, you won't like the results."

Is it okay to get a good buzz working? Well, even if we tell you no, we know you're going to do it, so that's not the issue. It's knowing to keep your buzz -- if not in public -- then at least in the company of your friends.

Watch For It Going Weird

When it comes to rape, everyone and his sister will tell you to 'trust your feelings.' And yet those 100,000 women who are raped every year in the US, seem to have missed that oft repeated point.

Or maybe the point isn't being put across in a way that is as understandable as it needs to be.

This is a rather long section, but it has to be in order to convey, perhaps the most important idea, to keep you from being raped. And that is it's more than just trusting your feelings, it's finding out if they are accurate (and doing something about it) before you get raped.

First off, we like to poke fun at people who say "You must always be aware!" Aware of WHAT? A keen fashion sense is awareness. So too is noticing that guy over there has a really nice butt. While we're at it, so is seeing that blonde over there is giving your boyfriend the eye. All of those are types of awareness. However, those won't save you from getting raped. And yet again and again you are told "be aware."

On the other hand -- and this is a very legitimate counter point by women -- is they don't want to live their lives in constant fear and paranoia. Which face it, "all men are potential rapists" and "You must always be aware" does come across as promoting paranoia. Basically, encouraging women to constantly exist in a vague and uneasy awareness, gives credence to these women's attitude. And why the advice is so often disregarded.

Our attitude is awareness without knowledge is paranoia. That's why we ask "Aware of WHAT?"

What are the specific danger signs that a woman must -- not constantly be on guard against -- but look for in certain kinds of situations? If she doesn't see them, then relax and go back to what you are doing. (Gee, a deserted parking lot, that means NOBODY IS THERE! Then relax, nobody is there to attack you.)

On the other hand, if the danger signals are there, then  DON'T ignore, dismiss or negate them. It's time to stop thinking a certain way start thinking another way. Most of all, it's time to change your behavior. (A deserted parking lot except for the guy who has been trying to get you to go out with him and who is obviously drunk is no longer safe).

The profile of characteristics common to rapists and the Five Stages of Violent Crime will give you a lot of helpful knowledge to base a realistic and practical set of standards as to what kind of dangerous signs you need to be looking for. If you see them, then there is a problem. But, guess what? If you don't see them, then it's time to shift back to your other kind of awareness ... like scoping out the cute butts in the vicinity.

Our second problem with "trust your feelings" is this: Who doesn't get confused by society's weirdness?

It's a BIG and confusing world. And face it, we deal with people all the time that we're uneasy about. Let's see who can make you feel uncomfortable dealing with them. The skanky bum who looks like he's about to try to pan handle you? How about that ethnic guy who's leering at you? That weird geeky guy who fixes your computer? The Goth chick with the purple and black hair and who-knows-how-many-unseen-piercings who's sneering at you? That flannel shirted, baseball hat wearing truck driver standing next to you in line? Do they freak you out? Do you feel uncomfortable because you don't know how to talk to them?


Face it, it's really easy to be at a loss at how to deal with all the different kinds of people you're going to run across. And sooner or later, you're going to come across someone who makes you uncomfortable. Among city dwellers, every day of our lives our feelings of unease and discomfort are triggered every day.

And yet somehow trusting this feeling is supposed to save you from rape? How?

Let's start out with the fact that there is a BIG difference between 'weird' and 'dangerous.' The barking moonbat who wants to talk to you about how the CIA is broadcasting microwave mind control beams directly into his head, really isn't dangerous. On the other hand the classmate who is obsessing on you and always trying to talk and touch you is. So too is a date who reveals himself to be a 'mean drunk' or begins to exhibit more and more of the characteristics common to rapists.

While we're making this list, add in someone who is too pushy about getting to sex isn't a good thing either. Remember what we said in the Safe Dating page and the Bonding Process, it's a two way interview ... an interview that you can decide that he has failed. And if you decide someone has failed it spectacularly, it's time to exit.

Here's  our point. It ISN'T just about your feelings, it's about what is happening.

Trusting your feelings isn't enough. That needs to be augmented by watching for if the person developing the conditions he needs in order to attack you.

See unlike the actual attack, developing these conditions isn't obvious. And that is why so many people blow it. It isn't just that they don't trust their feelings, it's that they are hesitant to act on those feelings until a blatant danger becomes manifest. Well, by that time, it's too late.

But here's something you need to know. Although the danger signals of a developing attack don't come with flashing lights and sirens:

  1) They are very real and observable.  

 2) They are both knowable and easily recognizable once you know them.  

 3) They will ALWAYS show up for a pending attack.  

 4) The time to act is NOW

 5) If you act to derail the process in its development, you won't have  to use violence to keep from being raped.

The time to act on your feelings is when you see the small signs.

To give you an idea of what we're talking about imagine that you're driving on a freeway looking for an exit. The reason that most people 'trusting their feelings' doesn't work is that they aren't looking for the road signs. They are actually looking for the exit. They're speeding down the highway saying to themselves 'I know there's a red building at the exit I want.' Even though they may have a 'feeling' they are getting close, when they go driving by that building they'll realize they've missed the exit.

Sticking with the driving analogy, 'trusting you feelings' works when you know about road signs. It's not the exit, but that sign tells you the exit is coming up. Not only is that sign is miles before the actual exit, but when you get the feeling you are getting close to the exit, you start looking for the road signs. When you start getting a bad feeling about a situation, you don't start looking for the 'red building' of danger, by that time it's too late. When you start getting uneasy feelings you start looking for road signs that danger is down the road.

This gives you time and space to maneuver your way out of being attacked.

The third, problem about 'trust your feelings' is all too often personal benefit causes women to blow off the danger signs. This is what we mean when we say that the danger signs are often ignored, dismissed or minimized.

The warnings lights are flashing and the bells are ringing, but the woman is having too good of a time or is getting too much benefit out of the circumstances to pay attention. This attitude could be summed up as "Danger signals? I'm having too much fun to worry about danger signals!" Not only is she on her way to a wreck, but every time she sees a warning sign she actually speeds up, so as not to be able to read the sign.

If this sounds like blaming, our answer is "If the shoe fits." To begin with there's a big difference between blame and responsibility. Second of all, a whole lot of people use blame to justify their own bad behavior. Having said that, we know how easy it is to decide that it's just too much fun and continue with behavior that is heading you towards a wreck. Since our approach is to help you avoid wrecks (instead of making you feel better about having been in one) then this behavior needs to be addressed for what it is.

Now the bad news, making the "I'm having too much fun" decision IS a form of trusting your feelings.

It's the feeling of selfishness. It's the feeling that this is fun and you want more, so you ignore the danger signs. If

 a) you're not willing to slow down on your 'fun' when you see the danger signs 

     b) you think it's other people's responsibility not to do you wrong while you're having fun (including putting yourself into diminished capacities) the there's not a whole lot anyone can do to keep you from getting raped ... including yourself.

Yeah, it ruins your fun, but if things start looking weird, it's time to set aside your fun and pay attention to those signs that are niggling for your attention.

It's amazing how often life boils down to knowing which feelings to trust.


The reason why the drunk obsessive in the parking lot was so dangerous is that he didn't consciously know he was there to commit a sexual assault.

How's that for a BS sounding statement?

Having admitted that, it's still true. Realize that in many instances a would-be rapist is in a state that is like stepping on the gas and the brake at the same time. He is at war with himself, one half is obsessed with sexually having you, while another part is saying "STOP! This ain't right."

Here's where things get both ugly and confusing. Being sexually interested in someone is very human. So in that sense, it's right. However, being 'sexually obsessed' is too much of a good thing. In fact, it has become wrong. This is why use the gas and brake pedal analogy. Although wanting sex is normal, he also knows the degree which he wants it is wrong and that he can't act on it.But, that doesn't help him stop wanting it.

Think about this for a second. Have you ever wanted something that you know was wrong?. What did you do?

This gas vs. brake pedal conflict is often resolved by a very specific solution -- a solution that allows the person to have both. You should also know this solution is almost entirely unique to violence -- and extremely common to acquaintance rape(3). When you're talking about violence in general, we refer to this solution as  "The-Accidentally-On-Purpose-Attack-Set-Up."

Shockingly enough, when we're talking about rape it's called the "The-Accidentally-On-Purpose-Rape-Set-Up" (TAOPuRSU pronounced 'tao-pursue').

Here's the catch. The person who is engaging in TAOPuRSU can both perfectly set up the conditions for rape and NEVER realize that he's doing it. We're not talking about lying about it after the fact either, HE doesn't realize he's setting up a rape -- even though he's doing it by the numbers.

To understand TAOPuRSU you must first realize the difference between conscious motivation and unconscious motivation. Even though every decision he makes is 'conscious' he doesn't realize that they have unconscious motivations. Motivations that are directing him to a certain goal. A goal that he is not consciously aware of. To him it just looks like a series of innocent decisions. He doesn't see they are taking him to create the circumstances for giving himself permission to attack.

Let's, for example, look at the classmate ending up drunk in the parking lot. Now this was, as we said, a by the numbers set up for an attack. But information Marc collected indicated that the classmate had been unconsciously doing a TAOPuRSU, but not consciously  planning an attack.

The following is a model based on known facts and filling in the blanks. (Art kept an eye on the guy afterwards gathering this information). TAOPuRSU probably developed something like this. A known fact is the situation that caused him to miss school was legitimate business. Having free time on his hands, he'd gone out to get some food. Food led to a couple of drinks, those lead to a couple more. This, he admitted in later statements. Now we get into filling in the blanks. Odd are, once he was good and buzzed, he conveniently 'realized' that school was about to let out. It suddenly seemed like a 'really good idea' to go talk to the female classmate. This, in spite of the reality that she was furious with him. He probably thought he was going to apologize and plead his case.

Without consciously being aware of it, he had gone out of his way to set up conditions to both lower his inhibitions via alcohol and put himself into a position to attack the female classmate. What's more, although it would never consciously cross his intoxicated mind, he'd also put himself into a position where HE could feel justified for physically attacking her because SHE became verbally aggressive. Her anger at him would have exploded and given him the provocation he needed to physically attack. And the reason is, according to this drunken, self-rationalizing brain, SHE would have attacked him first.

At this junction many rape advocates will be frothing at the mouth that it doesn't matter that he wasn't conscious of his intent. The fact that  subconsciously was there means the rapist should be strung up by his balls. (And then they wonder why people don't listen to them).

However, the real problem with TAOPuRSU is it masks intent even from the person doing it! And if he doesn't know that he's up to no good, how can you spot it? The situation isn't obvious because he's unconsciously moving towards attacking you. There's no obvious deceit and you are probably caught up in the emotions of the moment yourself. This is a classic situation where people tell you to trust your feelings, but we'll tell you the situation isn't just going weird, it's already arrived there on a pogo stick.

The good news is that like situations where there is willful deceit and intent to attack, even with TAOPuRSU, there is both non-verbal leakage and the development of the condition for an attack. The leopard can't change its spots and criminal attacks HAVE to pass through these stages.

This is where we get back to our version 'trust your feelings' -- you'll sense that something isn't quite right, so instead of looking for something that is obviously wrong (the exit with the red building) start looking for the road signs that say destination trouble is coming up fast.

Who Says You Can't Lie?

During our Women's Self-Defense programs we often encounter an interesting phenomenon. During the conversations about their past experiences we routinely come across women who are embarrassed that they didn't get raped.

Although that isn't exactly how they look at it, in our eyes their attitude is the same thing. See, these women are embarrassed because when faced with a pending rape/sexual assault -- instead of becoming a combination of Wonder Woman/ Super Girl/ Laura Croft and delivering a whirlwind of blows to their would-be rapist -- they tricked their way out of being raped. Amazingly enough, they are ashamed that they took this strategy.

There's just one problem with this shame ... what matters is that they didn't get raped, not how they prevented it.

To us, what is important is that they didn't get raped. In our book that is a victory! High fives all around, you won that one.

The simple truth is that no matter what these women believed about their competence, power and ability to take care of themselves, in the face of immediate physical threat by an overwhelming force, they did the math and realized they needed to come up with something more reliable than becoming a comic book heroine. And they did so successfully.

You go girl.

Realize that whatever social prohibitions you may have accepted about lying and deception, the criminal and violent use deception all the time. If they're trying to deceive, threaten or harm you, why shouldn't you use deception to prevent that?

One of the hardest things to do is come out of your own lizard brain response to a situation that is taking an unusual turn and assess it in a different light. Once you realize that the situation is no longer what you thought it was, (whether a date, normal interaction or conflict) you can begin to counter the threat by -- although not obvious -- none the less effective measure.

To help you to be more effective in your deception let us give you an important idea we learned form John Steinbeck's Cannery Row. And this is:The best deception is one the person you are deceiving can easily understand. In the book there is a character named "Doc." Doc loves to walk. He would without any other reason than this love take 30 or 40 mile walks. What he learned is that if people asked him why he was walking if he told them the truth they would become nervous, unsure and think of him as a 'weirdo' . So the strategy he adopted was to to give them an explanation they could immediately understand -- and not think about. If people asked him why he was in the middle of a long walk, he would tell them that it was a bet. Any unease or suspicion about his 'odd' behavior immediately vanished and people readily accepted his odd behavior.

So how can you use this?

Let us for example, say that in the midst of hot and heavy making out your date begins to become too aggressive and you decide that "No maybe this isn't such a good idea after all." Suddenly announcing that you're in the middle of your period so you're not going to have sex with him isn't really believable. (why didn't you mention it earlier?) This is where the idea of "no means no" is often proven to be good in theory but hard to put into practice. You're telling a larger, stronger, probably drunk and definitely horny person -- who's deeply engaged in a kind of thought process that doesn't deal very well with being told 'no' -- NO. And you're being deceitful about it by claiming its your period.

On the other hand you saying "I have to pee" is more believable (especially if you have been drinking). Explain the need to pee is somewhat pressing and you'll both enjoy yourself more if your bladder isn't complaining. Become adamant. If he still objects, offer to pee in his hands. (thereby giving him an unpleasant option). The promise (that you intend to break) is that you will be right back. Then get up and leave the room. Amazingly enough you're either going to forget to come back or while in the bathroom you receive an emergency phone call that requires you to rush out of the house (or even climb out the bathroom window if you have to).

The key is to use deception to get out of his immediate reach where he can control your options. And as long as he believes that you'll come back he has no reason to try and stop you. By the time he realizes something is wrong, you're gone.

Do NOT Use Ineffective Violence

President Theodore Roosevelt gave us this bit of wisdom: Don't hit at all if it is honorably possible to avoid hitting; but never hit soft.

Entirely too many women fail to achieve this goal. When being pressed by a male, they often retaliate by striking, not only first, but ineffectively. In doing so they actually initiate the physical violence that leads to rape.  We don't object to using force to stop a rape, what we object to is not breaking his jaw.

Your Goal Is NOT to Fight, It Is To Escape

In fact, let us add some other things that you should NOT have on your To-Do list:

  1) You are not there to punish him for disrespecting you 

  2) You are not there to correct his behavior

  3) You are not there to make him feel like less of a man for misbehaving

  4) You are not there to teach him a lesson about messing with you

  5) You are not there to extract revenge for past wrongs done to you.   6) You are not there to vent your anger

  7) You are not there to prove your 'Right' to behave anyway you want.   8) You are not there to build your self-esteem by beating him up

  9) You are not there to give him a piece of your mind AFTER you've beat him up.

In fact, at the moment of attack your ONLY priority is getting out of the situation where you could be successfully raped. Until you've achieved that goal, everything else is of secondary importance -- including your anger and emotions. We know it's not how it is commonly done in 'civilized society' but these aren't civilized circumstances. You are in physical danger. Your physical safety comes first, then after you've avoided being hit by a runaway train, worry about your emotional comfort.


Call In Extra Help

We have a saying: A big qualifier of 'truth' is that you can find variations of it in many places. What we are about to you to tell you applies to rape. It also applies to stalking. What's more, we tell men the same thing about when another man attacks them. So realize what we're going to tell you applies not to just rape, but to most assaults.

If the guy didn't think he could take you, he wouldn't attack you in the first place.

What's more, there's a good chance that he's right. He can physically overwhelm you if you try to fight him. (And yes, there is a HUGE difference between self-defense and fighting). This unpleasant truth needs to be a MAJOR factor in your strategy of what to do to stop rape.

Let us ask you something, when was the last time you were in a knock-down, drag out brawl? When was the last time you threw someone a beating? When was the last time you had to drop someone with one punch because he was acting up?

If you answered 'never' to any and all of these questions, then we must ask you what makes you think you're going to be able to not only fight, a bigger stronger male, but defeat him? Most men are incapable of effectively fighting another man into submission and most physical violence between them is more threat display in nature. That is to say it is NOT designed to incapacitate or kill an opponent. So realize right now, that competence at using physical force isn't something that you just do. In fact, we have huge sections on self-defense, martial arts, street-fighting and defensive tactics on this Website. All of which are studies on the subject of effective use of physical force.

The reason we tell you this is that it is critical that you recognize the NEED to 'call in the cavalry.'  We often tell people: Do not run from danger, run towards safety. Another saying is "Head for the lights and the noise." That is where people are, and where there are people there are those who will stop the rapist in his tracks. Remember, rape needs isolation!

It is a dirty little secret that can only exist in isolation.

Remember the story about Marc's ex and the classmates? Not only did she help her friend, but she called in the help of the biggest, meanest dude available. (Art immediately spotted the danger and swung into action to keep the obsessed classmate not only away from the female, but there in the parking lot when she had left). In the same vein, she also called in the school administration.

The obsessed student might be able to physically overwhelm the female student, but he couldn't win against her, Marc's girlfriend (and by extension Marc), Art, the school administration, the police, the court system and prison.

Is why you need to call in help beginning to make sense?

It doesn't matter if you use crowds and public to avoid the possibility of rape, escape to them to avoid rape or run to them after successfully stop rape or call in help after rape, do NOT try to handle it all by yourself. Call in the cavalry.


1) In professional kitchens communication and physical contact is a safety requirement. You neither want to turn around into a knife or stab someone when you turn around. Realize that you're in an environment where everyone is very focused, moving very fast while holding (and carrying) sharp objects, hot items and boiling liquids. A light touch on your shoulder tells you not to move. As does terms like "behind you" and "coming through."  Therefore a higher degree of communication and touching occurs in a kitchen between co-workers ... even so, this guy was over the top.

2) Oh sure he was transferred to a different class. But that was for 'being on school property while intoxicated.' It just so happened to have the added benefit of getting an obsessive person away from the object of his obsession. But that never appeared on any paperwork

3) Although they occasionally apply to property crime, it is far, far less likely. The reason it is more common to physical violence is that humans tend to have prohibitions about committing violence on one another. Getting drunk lessens this inhibition to act.


Marc MacYoung and Dianna Gordon MacYoung

Growing up on the gang-infested streets of Los Angeles not only gave Marc MacYoung his street name “Animal,” but also extensive firsthand experience about what does and does not work for self-defense. What he teaches is based on experience and has proven reliability for surviving violence. If it didn’t work, he wouldn’t be alive to talk about it.

He is considered by many to be one of the most analytical thinkers on the subject of  surviving violence and personal safety today.  He has taught police, military, martial artists and civilians around the world. His message is always the same: Hand-to-hand combat is a last ditch effort when other, more effective, preventive measures have failed.

Diana Gordon MacYoung worked with battered  women and raised money for the regional battered women's shelter. She worked with parents who had lost their children, both young and old. She worked with feral teens, as well as honor students. She interviewed victims of incest, rape, and attempted murder, as well as those who committed the crimes. She went on drug raids with the sheriff's department and into buildings with the bomb squad.. She walked into murder scenes. She  attended autopsies with the county coroner. She badgered the FBI and interviewed CBI agents, DA's investigators, police and sheriff's personnel. She  had enduring friendships with Vietnam vets and learned from them the glaring weaknesses of what she had been taught as self-defense, as well as gathering input from the local sheriff deputies and police. She won innumerable community service, feature, editorial, news, sports, layout, typography and design awards for her newspaper.

In short, she experienced a tapestry of human life, high and low

Escaping Rape

"It's hard to get raped, robbed, shot beaten or killed if you're not there." MM

Marc has a saying when he does expert witness work in court cases. "This is the worst thing you've ever seen, it is not, however, the worst thing I've ever seen." He has to explain this to people because quite often what people are seeing is indeed terrible, but it could have been worse. But until you have seen worse, the idea that it could still go downhill seems almost impossible.

Unfortunately, rape is one of those examples. Before a woman is sexually assaulted, her emotions, pride and anger seem overwhelmingly important. Enough to to blind her to the fact that she's standing on the railroad tracks trying to argue with a runaway train about its behavior.

Never mind her reasons for doing so, that is not a behavior that is conducive to not getting raped.


Right or Raped? 

We have a basic question that we ask: What would you rather be, right or raped?

When after the woman replies that she doesn't want to get raped, we reply: Then you better quite trying to "win" and focus more on doing something that will keep you from getting raped.

In a long list of statements about rape that twists off advocates, this is pretty much the topper.   Wow... the outrage, the anger, the barrage of "I HAVE A RIGHT TO....!" and "Why should I be the one who ...?" or "I'm not going to ..." But, our personal favorite "He's the one who's in the wrong ..."

Wow, they're not only going to try to argue with a run away train, they're going to start defending their right to do so then and there. It doesn't take too much of psychic to guess the outcome if she finds herself alone with a man intent on sexually assaulting her.

 Our advice: Get out of there.

However, the idea of leaving a situation without "getting in the last word," "giving him a piece of your mind," "showing how mad you are at him", "evening the score," "hurting him for making you angry" or "getting back at him for treating you this way"  irritates certain kinds of people.

In their make up is the need, if not to be right, then at least to always come out of a situation with pride intact. In fact, the idea of leaving isn't so odious to them. But the idea of leaving without having scored a telling blow on the person for emotionally hurting them is unacceptable. As soon as they get that last devastating emotional lash stroke on his psyche then they will leave.

The exact reason for this behavior can come in many different forms, but for ease of discussion we call it "being right." In short being "right" means they have in some way restored balance, self-image and punished him for his misconduct.

Unfortunately, this kind of thinking seriously increases your chances of being raped.

It is literally the equivalent of standing on the train tracks arguing for your 'right' to be there. Furthermore you are going to punish that train for not respecting your rights. You may have the "right" to be there, but the train coming at you doesn't care. And you certainly aren't going to change it's behavior by slapping it

So instead of arguing for your right to play on the railroad tracks, let's focus on getting off the tracks.

Normal is back that-a-way

Horace, a very famous Roman writer, once said: Anger is a short madness. Putting that in simple terms, being mad means that you are temporarily crazy. And the madder you are the crazier you get. Anybody, who without being emotional themselves,  has had to deal with someone who is angry can tell you that an angry person isn't reasonable. Like being drunk, their decision making process is seriously impaired. However, when everyone is upset and caught up in the moment, they think they are making good decisions. It's only afterwards when everyone has cooled off and is back to being reasonable that you realize that decisions that made so much sense at the time, are in fact, serious cases of "Oops." Things were said and done that shouldn't have.

Unfortunately there are some people who feel that whatever they do when they are angry is justified. They can never see reason, much less that maybe their actions weren't the best thing to do,  even when they are calm. Whether angry or not, they will not only insist on their right to argue with a train, but argue just as ferociously with anyone who say playing on the railroad tracks isn't a good idea. Fortunately, most people aren't this extreme and upon calm reflection realize that their behavior when angry probably wasn't the smartest thing they ever did.

Having said all this...it sure made sense at the moment.

The reason knowing this is important is many women have discovered that staying and arguing with a rapist made perfect sense...right up until the moment that he attacked and raped them. It was at that moment that they realized "We aren't in Kansas anymore, Toto." The situation, that in their anger, frustration and outrage, they thought they could control, proves itself uncontrollable. They find that the situation has developed to a point that their ability to control it was about three exits back -- and there is no backing up. The problem is how do you -- before it is too late --  tell a controllable situation from an uncontrollable one?

The short answer is compare circumstances to see what is different.

While that may be the simple answer, what is underlying it isn't. It means before finding yourself in a situation learning to recognize the danger signs of impending crime/violence, learning to recognize dangerous people and knowing the limitations of when and where you should deal with them, avoiding high risk behavior and learning that it takes more than attitude and anger to stay safe. Now comes the hardest part, having the self-control so when you find yourself in these circumstances to take the exit  before it escalates to where you are no longer in control.

Upon hearing this many agenda driven people squeal that we are saying that a woman should just fold up and cower any time a man says "Boo." Nothing could be further from the truth. What we ARE saying however, is don't argue with someone where you can be attacked and raped. You really don't want to do that with a person who is likely to use violence to get what he wants. This isn't about empowerment, it's about commonsense.

Simply stated: People have ways of doing things that work in the normal world. There it is not uncommon for people to routinely defend themselves against minor transgressions. The sort that we encounter everyday. Often these are anger provoking violations of our personal boundaries that threaten our self-worth and our belief about how we should be treated. Under normal circumstances people "play by the rules" and these minor infractions and retaliations do not escalate into physical violence.

Because we are so accustomed to doing this behavior everyday -- and quite frankly having a good degree of success --  we tend to assume that this strategy works everywhere. In fact, we can unconsciously begin to use this as a default program on how to handle a problem. Furthermore, we often make the unconscious assumption that people are going to play by the rules -- regardless of the circumstances. This is why people so often don't realize when the circumstances are quite different than what we are, not only accustomed to, but think they are. In other words, you think you know what is going on, but in fact, it is a totally different situation  -- even when it involves someone you know. Unfortunately, as rape is not a normal circumstance. Such reactions under potentially dangerous circumstances just serve to increase your danger. In some cases, functionally *ensuring* that you will be assaulted -- either sexually or physically.

This is why you always need to check your circumstances before allowing yourself to automatically react to a violation of these assumptions. When these assumptions are proven to be incorrect it is always a shock. However, the shock is often overwhelming when they are physically proven to be incorrect. A major contributing factor to why rapists are successful is the stunning shock that their victim has that the situation isn't what she thought it was; that it has suddenly gone from a verbal situation to a physical one. When we use the word shock, we don't just mean in the sense of being appalled at someone's behavior, we are talking about an actual physical and mental state of shock. Where one's mind and body cannot function.

The stunning magnitude of the shock is often made worse because because rape is seldom a simple issue. It is usually mixed with other complicating factors such as alcohol, anger, drugs and only moments before being sexually aroused. And those are the hard and fast issues, the softer more complicated ones are the social nuances of a situation, the woman's mindset, what she was doing at the time, how familiar she is with violence and, quite often her expectations and assumptions about her attacker. Rape can happen under a wide variety of circumstances and the issues we have just mentioned ALL effect a woman's ability to "shift gears" when a situation goes physical (1)  You think things are a certain way and the next you are being physically assaulted.

For a lot of women, this is just too much to handle effectively. They cannot get over the staggering impact that the situation isn't what they thought it was, figure out where they are and then get to where they need to be in order to stop it in time. If you think being lost is bad, imagine trying figure out where you are, how to get out and then doing it while you are being physically assaulted and overwhelmed

The truth of the matter  is if you are in circumstances where you can be raped you are in an isolated situation with someone who is willing to use violence to get what he wants. Your words of anger, hostility and outrage are *not* likely to have the desired effect. And yet, pride, wounded ego, anger and outrage will often spur you to stay and "fight." And when you are fighting, you are trying to "win." Winning isn't about safety,  or self-defense it's about ego and being "right."

Get Out of There!

Our attitude of "Winning be damned, just get the hell out of there!" And by whatever means necessary to keep you from being raped. You can deal with your anger later, now is the time for effective action.   And that means get out of there by whatever means possible. If you cannot do this, and you let your emotions and anger rule you, then odds are you will be raped.

You have to be smarter and more conscious than a would-be rapist. And that means you have to avoid giving into temporary madness... whether fear or anger. It's much, much easier to leave a potential situation than it is to fight your way out of a situation that has turned physical.


Survivor's guilt 

We have noticed a interesting phenomenon in our women's self-defense seminars. It is what we call "survivor's guilt." While you would expect  guilt and shame from women who were raped, it is amazing to discover even more guilt and shame in women who avoided being raped.

And yet, we commonly see this phenomenon among women who conned, tricked or talked their way out of being raped.

Apparently they are ashamed that they resulted to "Feminine guile" to avoid being raped rather than using "Macho Bravada" and a blinding blur of fists and feet to beat the crap out of an attacker. In these days of assertiveness and "girl power" they are ashamed that instead of standing up to a violent attacker they got out of being hurt by outsmarting him. After all, they are competent, able to take care of themselves people. And having to "stoop to such low levels" hurts their pride.

To begin with there is a difference between being competent in your normal life and being a "tough chick." In fact, the two are not even close. Furthermore, competence and confidence in one area does not automatically mean you have it across the board and in all circumstances. You can't know, much less be competent in something that you have never dealt with before. This especially applies to physical violence. Where when you are actually facing it it is totally different than anything you have seen on TV. Having a gut sinking, nauseous feeling of horror as you realize that there is nothing between you and a potential attacker is NORMAL! Any "tough chick" act tends to shrivel up like a worm on a frying pan when faced with raw horror of  pending violence.

Simply stated: There is a part of you that takes one look at the danger and instead of proceeding on a chest-beating act of defiance says, "Think fast, Rabbit!"(2)  Then you proceeds to find some way to wiggle out of a dangerous situation. By hook or crook you get out of being raped.

Congratulations, you just did the smartest, most effective thing you can do.


It's About Not Getting Raped

It has nothing to do with "not handling the situation right," "losing face" or "going belly up." It has everything to do with not getting raped. It's looking at the physical prowess of an attacker and not contesting it. It's about out-thinking him!   It's about getting out of there.

Unfortunately, many people, in the heat of the momentary madness, take a less effective tact. They try to argue with, control or scare off  a would be attacker by showing how powerful they are. A tact that seems effective until it blows up in their faces and gets them raped.

Quite honestly, a smaller weaker woman cannot hope to fight a larger, stronger man intent on attacking her -- not without years and years of specialized training. And we do mean specialized, most martial arts training is ineffective as it is based on muscle and speed. As will be any "stripped down" training that is based on those ideals, functional self-defense training is not what you think it is. Lest you think this comment about a smaller woman fighting a larger man is  a sexist remark, it's not,  a smaller untrained man cannot hope to win against a determined larger opponent either. It's not about gender, it is simple physics, mass and muscle. Why do you think there are weight categories in sports such as boxing and wrestling?

Where size is less of a consideration is when the attacker is not dedicated to the attack. At least not dedicated enough to suffer intense pain for it. In those circumstances then it is possible for a smaller opponent to overwhelm a larger one with a direct frontal-assault.

However, such a tactic -- while working on a drunken college boy -- is  just as likely to set him off. Against a habitually violent person, someone who is experienced with fighting, it is almost guaranteed to increase his commitment to hurting you. And you *will* lose against such an attack. No matter what any "tough chick" WSD instructor tells you. By the time it has developed to a physical assault, winning is pretty much out of the question for the average person, much less the average woman.

With this in mind, the idea of escaping rather than trying to fight becomes far more appealing. (Incidentally, if it does go violent, instead of trying to fight an attacker, your goal needs to be to fight your way clear...so you can escape. You're not fighting to win, you're physically trying to escape). Getting out before it turns physical is just plain the "smart thing to do" and it doesn't matter how you accomplish it.

It is amazing to see the change in the women's faces at our seminars when they start talking about these experiences and discover that they did the right thing. Right because they didn't get raped. It's not how  you don't get raped that is important, it's the fact that you didn't get raped that counts.

As we encourage women to tell these stories and applaud them for their creativity, they realize that they had been torturing themselves over their successes because they THOUGHT they had failed. They felt this way because they didn't live up to unrealistic expectations set for themselves. You DON'T have to deal with a potential rapist by standing up to him and asserting your rights -- what matters is that you get out of there without being raped.

That is success no matter how you look at it.(3)

Initiating violence

From purely informal and unscientific interviews that we have done with rape victims we discovered an astonishing trend. In approximately 80% of all the date rapes the woman initiated the physical violence.

She was the one who hit first.

To say this finding is controversial is like saying the "Titanic sprung a small leak." Somewhat of  a massive understatement comes to mind. However, once we step away from the "blame game" and begin to look at it from a wider perspective, this makes perfect sense. There is no blame or implied condemnation with this finding.

It is however, as you will see, significant.

As we mentioned, these numbers were arrived at by a totally unscientific process. It was, however, based on actual interviews and noticing a important trend that is often overlooked -- or rationalized away  -- by advocates. Regardless if the numbers resulting from our informal survey are correct, this trend does constitute a significant issue that needs to be studied further and its importance considered instead of explained away.

As stated the bonding process is an unconscious human behavioral pattern. That means we are usually unaware of the overall process that we are following -- even when we are deeply in the middle of it. While love might not be blind, how we get there is often on autopilot. Once it is pointed out, however,  it is easy to recognize and observe. This applies to both when the process is proceeding smoothly and when is going wrong. In fact, it can entertaining sitting back and watching people you don't know engage in the public display part of the process (Doing this with friends at a club where  you all doing running commentaries on things like preening and flirting behavior is not only a great way to familiarize yourself with the process, but have lots of laughes)

Until you are familiar with it, however, the failure of the process can often be summed up in the following line: I don't know what is wrong, but I know something isn't right.

That is both the greatest strength and greatest weakness of an unconscious process. It is a strength because while the details vary drastically, we humans all have pretty much the same script to read from when it comes to this process. This allows us basic guidelines to operate towards certain goals without much technical thought. The idea is to get to a goal, not stress too much on how.

It is a weakness because, since we have never thought about it, when things go significantly wrong we aren't sure how to handle them. We often respond with anger, frustration and confusion when our unconscious patterns are challenged in unexpected and dramatic ways.

Nobody is arguing whether she's got a right to be upset. What was supposed to be a mutually beneficial experience is being pushed and bullied. There is only emphasis on his desires, not a mutual benefit. The issue is *how* she becomes upset. It's what she does with it that can become a problem. It is not uncommon for the female's frustration with the process being bullied to manifest in her striking the offending male intending to deter or slow him down. Imagine this soundtrack "Stop that! *smack*"

And that is where things often go sideways.


1) This is an issue that goes beyond rape. The sense of shock when a situation goes physical -- and the ability to over come it -- is a significant factor in all types of violence. Men are just as susceptible to freezing in shock as women The side that hits first, the hardest and with overwhelming force is usually the side that wins. This is why it is such a commonly used strategy in violence. By attacking in this manner the victim is never given a chance to regroup and recover. Return to text

2) This comes from an old Bugs Bunny cartoon Hair Raising Hare. Bugs is being chased by a big orange monster and suddenly finds himself teetering at the edge of a bottomless pit. Looking at certain death from both directions, Bugs says to himself, "Think fast Rabbit!" He then distracts the monster by pretending to be a chatty hairdresser and giving the monster a perm and manicure...complete with dynamite as hair rollers. THAT'S what we mean by outthinking an attacker. Return to Text

3) Unfortunately there are people out there who will try to shame you with comments like "Well I would have...!" usually these comments are from people with axes to grind, agendas to promote or the type of person who would argue with an oncoming train about their right to stand on the tracks. In short, these are the same women who would most likely to be raped if they had been there and tried this anger driven idealism. Sad to say, this attitude is not uncommon among more politicized and radical Women's Self-defense programs. Which is why you really need to have some standards of what needs to be in self-defense training before you take a course.

Profile of a Rapist

In attempting to warn women against the danger, many rape crisis centers proclaim "all men are potential rapists."

What a horrible way to live.

Who wants to go through life in fear of one half of the human race? Much less believe that about those we love and are intimate with.

The idea behind any learning should be to improve the quality of life, notdegrade it. To this end, let’s leave the wild paranoia of ‘possible’ rape scenarios and move onto the more solid footing of ‘probable’ and 'very likely.'  That you can do something about.

Someone rightly said, "Dishonest people are seldom dishonest in only one aspect of their lives." In the same vein, the predilections that can, and do, lead to rape and violence are not isolated. They tend to permeate a person's character and be regularly displayed in many small ways -- and in other areas. These attitudes, behaviors and words are consistent among rapists and those who attack others.

IF you are willing to look, they are easy to spot.

The reason it is impossible to predict who will and won't sexually assault someone is because how these behaviors manifest is a matter of style and preference(1).  One person might choose to be blatant and habitually physically attack others, while another might be more subtle and rely on drugs and alcohol to render his victims helpless. The motives are the same, but the style is utterly different. And that is why it is hard to predict who will and won't commit sexual assault or physical violence. A person who will physically assault one person will not engage in violence with different person. The same goes for circumstances, he will attack in one set of circumstances, but not another.

What we can accurately predict is something bad will arise out of these character traits. However exact details of the 'When, Where and How' are impossible to predetermine.

If you see these behaviors in a person, take care. The more you see, the more care should be taken not to be alone him. Even if he doesn’t rape, these behaviors indicate serious character flaws.

Danger signs

1) Insensitivity for others/emphasis on self - Does this person put his wants above the needs, feelings or well being of others? Is getting his way more important to him than other people's welfare? Often this can go beyond mere selfishness and border nearly on an "assumed divine right." Often these people will justify a particularly vicious action with a flip comment like, "Hey, that's how the game is played." Such a person has no understanding that he must co-exist with others. Because he simply exists he thinks the world "owes" him whatever he wants. A common tactic of such a person it to make you feel bad for not doing what he wants.

2) Belittling behavior or attitudes towards others - Does this person habitually make nasty, belittling or degrading comments about others – especially under the guise of joking? Does this person think he is better than others? Does he look down on others? A nouveau riche aristocrat? Is he a racist? A person who thinks that race or social position makes him superior can also assume gender does too. When you think you are superior, an assumed right to ‘take’ what you want often follows.

3) Negating behavior or comments - Closely related to 1 and 2. Does he try to tell you what you are feeling or thinking? Or worse, tell you what you are not? Comments like "you don’t really mean that" are serious indicators of someone trying to negate you. A person who negates others is trying to take away the other person’s thoughts, feelings and needs and attempting to project his wants onto that person. The most obvious example of this is "Well even though she said ‘no’, she really meant ‘yes’".

4) Hostile and/or threatening language - What words does a person use? Choice of words convey subconscious assumptions about a particular topic. For example a man who generically refers to women as "bitches" does not have good assumptions about females (or much respect). It is all too easy to dismiss this behavior as just "blowing off steam." But if it is a constant behavior, it goes far beyond that. Someone who habitually uses violent or threatening language should be carefully watched for possible escalation. It’s on his mind already. It’s a uncomfortably short step from ‘thinking about’ to ‘doing’.

5) Bullying - This behavior is especially dangerous. Does this person use overt or subtle threats to get his way? A bully uses the threat of violence more than actual violence. Most often bullies are not willing to risk conflict with someone who can hurt them (an alpha male), and will instead chose to intimidate someone he considers weaker and safer. Someone who is bullying over other matters can easily turn to bullying you regarding sex.

6) Excessive anger - How easy does this person anger? Is he a "Short Fuse"? Does he boil over at the slightest problem? This is an indication of chronic anger. A person who explodes over a minor issue is like a full pot boiling over on the stove. It’s not that the issue is all that important, but that he has so much anger already, any more causes him to explode. Often people with chronic anger look for targets to vent their anger at. This could manifest as physical fights, abuse, or rape.

7) Brooding/ revenge - Does this person hang onto his anger long after the situation is over? Will he still be stewing over something while everyone else has moved onto other things? Will he become anti-social and glare at the source of his anger from across the room? Will he insist on taking revenge for real or imagined slights? Both indicate a petty and obsessive personality. A brooder fixates on something and then works himself into a frenzy over it. A person who seeks revenge "has to win" and is willing to take it to extremes. Refusing such a person’s sexual advances can turn this tendency towards you.

8) Obsession – This is a close cousin to number seven. It is a major factor with acquaintance rapes. This is the person who won’t leave you alone. He insists on ‘hitting on you’ long after you have told him no. He is always trying establish forced intimacy (see ‘bonding process’ below). Such obsessions easily turn into anger when his advances are rejected. One day he shows up in a fringe area, drunk and attacks.

9) Extreme mood swings - Beware someone who can go from wildly happy to deeply wounded at a moment's notice. This sort of personality can feel justified to commit an unlimited amount of violence and damage, because you "hurt his feelings." This is a common pattern among those with chronic anger about life.

10) Physical tantrums - How does this person get angry? Especially when denied "getting his way". Beware of a person who regularly physically assaults his environment i.e. hitting walls, kicking things etc. It is only a short step from striking a car to attacking you.

11) Jock or gorilla mentality - This mentality promotes both acceptance and encouragement for the use of violence. It is especially common among participants of contact sports. What is most insidious about this mentality is the "jock" receives, not only positive reinforcement, but out-and-out applause for being aggressive and violent. This can easily lead to a failure to differentiate between the playing field and real life. Mike Tyson’s comment is a prime example: "Nobody ever objected before."

12) A mean drunk - Nearly all rape and abuse cases involve alcohol. Watch what surfaces when someone is intoxicated. It shows what is always lurking underneath. Do not put yourself into a situation where you would deal with such a person while he is intoxicated. Most importantly, don't allow your facilities to be diminished by alcohol or drugs in this person's presence.

13) Alcohol or drug abuse - To begin with drug and alcohol addiction can in be traced back to selfishness and a refusal to change one’s world view. Alcohol and drugs are not the cause of bad behavior, rather they are used as an excuse! Often the attacker intentionally became intoxicated to ignore the social restrictions and inhibitions regarding violence.

While there are others, these behaviors are serious indicators of a potential rapist. This short list should acquaint you with the basics. Not all men are rapists, but a person like this has a higher probability than others. You not only find these traits among rapists and abusers, but also professional criminals. Philosophically there is little difference between such, they are all selfish. Most often it is just a matter of degrees, style and choice of victims.

So slick he could slide up hill

One Saturday morning our college-aged daughter, who had come back for a visit, mentioned she was dating someone who had been convicted of sexual assault. Marc tried to mask his immediate reaction by taking a sip of coffee. What nearly caused a caffinated spraying of the room was her follow up comment "But it's okay, he explained to me what happened and it wasn't his fault."

Of course it wasn't his fault...and while we're at it, let's free everybody in prison because they are innocent - and they will tell you that too.

When we mentioned the possibility that he probably lied about, or at the very least spindoctored, his version of events she proudly told us that "she had checked it out" -- by asking his best friend. She then proceeded to tell us a long litany of behavior that was bordering on stalking. We told her to drop him faster than an annoyed scorpion.

What was most disturbing was her outrage at our reaction. Why were we getting so upset, she knew 'what she was doing' and 'she could take care of herself.' This kind of gullibility born of both willful ignorance and arrogance is what leads people into danger. And she had a double-dose of both.

Fortunately, she broke it off with him shortly after returning to school, so nothing bad ever occurred. She was able to "flitterygibbit" off to other things convinced that mom and dad were once again over-reacting and being paranoid. She is, unfortunately, our risk taker. She insists on regularly putting herself into situations like that.

We mention this story because there is an old saying: You can't cheat an honest man. If you don't have much experience with the underbelly of life, that comment doesn't seem to make sense. But it is very true. That is because most swindles rely on the mark's greed. It is the person who is avaricely trying to get a ludicrously low price or an unrealistic high return who is going to get hustled. Whereas an honest person knows this isn't right. You don't get those kind of prices and returns in legitimate business. If someone is offering them, then something is wrong. And yet because of greed, the mark proceeds with the deal.

In the same vein, a smooth talking individual can only convince you of something if you want to believe what he is saying. And the more you want to believe the less convincing he will have to do. But without this willingness to ignore common sense on your part, even the smoothest con-artist has no power and no chance to harm you.

The reason for this side trip into the nature of con artists is to acquaint you with the fact that many rapists will attempt to mask, justify, make light of, or explain away the dangerous behaviors that we have mentioned. How they will do this is totally unpredictable at this time -- as it depends on the individual and his opinion and assessment of you. Know right now however, that he will tailor his response to what he thinks will work best with you. So it is going to sound real convincing when it comes your way.

Having said that however, there are several common tactics. The first is to make light of it. To claim that he was just joking about a verbal attack. To "blow off" a significant event with a flip or short comment as though it didn't matter.

Another common dodge is to minimize others by focusing on him. He was justified in doing what he did because his emotions were hurt or because the other person did something to him first.

Bullying is often common. The subject is closed because it angers or upsets him.

Or they will have a long and elaborate story how it really wasn't their fault. These stories however, while tending to have great depths in some areas are prone to be as shallow as a puddle in a parking lot when it comes to their involvement. Not about what they did or what they were feeling - those are in depth areas - but rather why they chose a course of action that they knew was wrong. That will be quickly glazed over. Unfortunately this subject has massive influence on everything else they are telling you. But if they can baffle you with BS about other details, you won't notice that this issue is prominently lacking in their story.

It is not uncommon for them to try to turn it around onto you. Your reaction to their action is wrong : That is what they will try to convince you. You are being narrow-minded and mean spirited. Don't you know it was just a joke? How can you be so unforgiving to hold him accountable for something that wasn't his fault. Or a very common one, how can you be so unreasonable, look how reasonable about this he is trying to be.

No matter what tactic someone takes there is always a core fortification of "me" that is involved in his arguments. It is hard to describe, but once you have learned how to recognize it, it is always there. This fortification is never touched. It is always talked around or quickly skipped over. And that area that is never addressed is accepting personal responsibility for one's actions.

Another issue that is never mentioned is their responsibility to interact with others on an equal basis. It is always how other people are affecting them. Or how much they have done and how hard they have tried to make things work. There is no recognition that their words or actions might have affected someone just as, if not deeper than they themselves were effected.

If you can remove your emotional involvement from the equation, you will clearly see how people attempt to hide these behaviors . But before you can remove your emotional investment you must critically review your motives. What are you getting out of the situation? What do you expect to get out of the situation? What are you afraid of losing if you were to allow yourself to see this behavior and recognize its significance?

With out daughter, it was that this man was from a well to do family and spent money on her. He would take her out, buy her entertainment, dinner, drinks and gifts. Which for a 'broke' college student is very appealing. Because she was benefiting from the association, she chose to ignore the danger signals and accept a shallow and biased explanation of past events. It wasn't until his obsessive behavior became annoying to her that she decided that the profit wasn't worth the pain.

That which is hateful

The great rabbinical scholar Hillel is supposed to have been woken up in the middle of the night by a skeptic. The skeptic demanded Hillel explain the whole of the Torah in ten words or less. He replied "What is hateful unto you, do not do unto others -- the rest is commentary" and then Hillel rolled over and went back to sleep.

Rapists tend to be very selfish people. While there is a chance of a rape occurring because an otherwise "nice guy" makes a bad and selfish decision, this is an exception rather than the rule. Usually people who rape others have long shown a consistent pattern of attitude and behavior. The sexual assault is another, albeit more extreme, manifestation of this kind of mindset.

This however brings up an interesting point. Bad behavior tends to be tolerated only by people who are expecting you to tolerate theirs.

If you are engaged in selfish behavior, you will eventually find yourself surrounded only by other selfish people. This shift is gradual and oft times not noticed by the individual. Once you start down this road, it becomes a matter of degrees - who is more selfish. And when that happens it is not a question of "if" bad things will happen but rather "when?"

If you see these warning signs we have talked about her, do not choose to ignore them. Do not minimize them. Do not assume that you can control the situation. That is an assumption of omnipotence. You cannot control other human being and the assumption you can is pure arrogance.

The best thing you can do is to get these kind of individuals out of your life. If you look around and recognize this behavior in ALL of your friends, then it is time to sit down and do a critical reassessment of your own behavior.

In conclusion

These danger signals are real as are the tactics we have discussed. Care should be taken when dealing with someone who exhibits them. Do not put yourself in a situation where such a person could successfully use violence. Literally, do not go off alone with such a person – especially if alcohol or drugs are involved.

Incidentally, many of these behaviors are shared with those who turn into abusive husbands and boyfriends. These are the seeds of that kind of behavior, but it won’t be until you are involved that abuse will manifest. This is another reason to avoid becoming involved with a person who displays these early signs.

To a greater or lesser degree, you can see these danger signals in many people you know. Do not ignore, rationalize or excuse these behaviors, especially if you see a significant number of them. Don’t make the mistake, as great many young women do, that because such a person hasn’t attacked you, he won’t.

A shark is a shark whether he is peacefully swimming or attacking. Just because you haven't been attacked, doesn't mean he can't or won't. You either haven’t had anything he wants or you haven’t been in a situation with him where he could successfully act.


1) Source of 'matter of style statement. Dr. Stanton Samenow Inside the Criminal Mind. You also might want to read his book The Myth of the Out of Character Crime. You'll find a more in-depth look at many of the elements listed here.


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