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Preventing Rape

Experts say that rape is anything but a sex crime. In fact, they saythat it's an act of violence perpetrated against a another person. The topic of rape is not a pleasant one, but it's a subject that women of all ages, races, and nationalities should take serious enough to find out about.

For example, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, more than 441,590 female rapes/sexual assaults took place in 1994. Most of them occurred in cities with a population of more than 249,000, or 23.2 people for every 100,000. Women in suburban locations were the least likely to be victimized, 11.6 people in every 100,000; and a woman's chances of being victimized by a rapist a rural setting was slightly more that in the suburbs, 13.7 people in every 100,000.[1]

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the most vulnerable group at risk are young, unmarried women between the ages of 16 and 19 who come from a low-income home. The second most vulnerable group was in the 20 to 24 age group; and the third most vulnerable group was 12 to 15 years of age.[2] Statistics also show that a women's chance of being raped are about twice as high if she is black.[3]

Perhaps the most stunning fact of all that came out of these studies was the fact that in the majority of reported cases, the rapist knew his victim before committing the crime.[2] In fact, 74.2% of all rape/sexual assaults that took place in 1994 involved a non-stranger.[1] To further support this, a 1992 report clearly showed that 47% of imprisoned rapists said that they knew their victim(s) before raping them.

On the victim side, 33% of female rape victims, ages 18 and older, said that they didn't know their attacker. Or, putting it another way, 67% of these rape victims said that they either knew or were acquainted with their attacker.[2]

In all of these numbers, it seems quite evident that the majority of rapists aim to use familiarity with their intended victim to gain their trust before committing the rape. Perhaps this information can help women effectively avoid becoming a rape victim.

What's A Woman To Do?

In the past, people felt safe and secure behind the locked doors of their own homes. Statistics show, however, that 37.4% of the 441,590 female rapes that took place in 1994 happened inside the victim's own home.[1] This means that in some cases these victims opened their door to someone they considered to be a trusted friend or an acquaintance. This is why unless you are very familiar with the person calling outside your door, you should never allow them to enter. Of course, not all rapes are perpetrated by someone the victim knows. In many cases, the rapist is a stranger to the victim.

In all cases, women should always know their caller before they open the door. If the caller says that he has legitimate business inside the home or apartment, the woman should be sure to closely examine his credentials and personal identification. This usually requires the use of a through-the-door peep-hole lens or an intercom system. Better yet, a combination intercom/camera system should be installed because it will allow the homeowner to not only talk to their callers but to see who they are as well. This further assures that a woman alone knows who the caller is before they open their door.

There are other things that women alone can do to prevent a rapist from taking advantage of them. Here's a list of dos and don'ts that women alone should consider:

  • Use only your first initial and last name when marking your mailbox.
  • Use only your first initial and last name in a telephone book listing.
  • Use only the best locks available, and be sure to have a deadbolt lock installed on all your outside doors.
  • Install a good quality lock on your bedroom door.
  • Install a telephone in the bedroom. If possible, buy a telephone with speed-dial buttons on it so you can program one of them to dial "911."
  • Because some criminals will first cut the phone lines before they attempt to make contact with their would-be victim, if possible,  purchase a small cellular telephone and keep it in the bedroom next to the bed.
  • Do not open your door to strangers. If it's necessary to do so, be sure to check  their identification through a window or through-the-door peep-hole lens.
  • If you're still unsure of the caller after checking their identification, call the company or utility they profess to work for and ask for that person's supervisor.
  • Show no signs of predictability by allowing certain lights to remain on in your home not matter whether you're at home or away. This will keep a would-be criminal guessing.
  • Use an answering machine to screen your phone calls so a rapist or any other criminal cannot use it to find out if you're at home.
  • Never allow a stranger into your home to use your telephone. Instead, tell them that  you'll make the phone call for them.


[1] Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics--1994, Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs.

[2] Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), report #NCJ-147001, June, 1994.

[3] Security and Crime Prevention, by O'Block, Donnermeyer, and Doeren, Butterworth-Heinemann, Newton, MA.

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