Seven Tips to Keep You From Getting Assaulted by a Career Rapist (August 2004)

By Robin Schmitt

Most rapes and sexual assaults occur by someone intimate to the victim. Someone the victim already knows. This article deals with rape and sexual assault by strangers, and how to keep it from happening.

I have run across some very incisive tips from a woman cop on how to avoid getting raped and sexually assaulted. She’s not just any cop though, her job is to review criminal files of imprisoned sex offenders who are approaching their release date. She decides if they are likely to re-offend based on certain criteria, and make recommendations on what to expect from the offender, before he is released back into society.

She has reviewed hundreds and hundreds of cases, some of the worst rape and sexual assault crimes, and has been privy to the very details on how unsuspecting women get tricked, trapped and taken away, and subsequently raped and beaten. For the purposes of this story, her name is being withheld.

These are her seven most common mistakes that women make that could get them kidnapped, attacked or raped. This is not an exhaustive list, but items that have come up repeatedly as mistakes women have made before they have been victimized:

1) Getting into the attacker’s car when he pulls a gun and orders you to get into his vehicle. Most attackers don’t want to shoot you. They want you to get into the car so that they can drive you to a deserted place, rape you and torture you. Don’t comply. Run screaming. It is much more likely than not that he will just move on to an easier target.

2) Pulling over when a man drives along side of you pointing at your car, pretending something is wrong. If this happens, drive to the nearest well-lit and populated gas station and look the car over yourself, or ask an attendant to do so. Never pull over. Believe it or not, many women have fallen for this out of fear that their car might break down in the middle of the road.

3) Not locking your doors while driving. There are a number of cases where the attacker simply walks up to a woman’s car while she is at a traffic light and jumps in with his gun or knife drawn.

4) Opening the front door to your home when you have not positively identified who is there. If you don’t have a peephole, get one. There are countless cases where the attacker gains access to his victims simply by knocking on the door. Don’t let an attacker get into your home. He then has a private, relatively soundproof place to attack you.

5) Not being alert in parking lots. If you go to the grocery store at night, don’t be shy about asking for an escort to your car. Too many women are abducted from parking lots, or even raped in the parking lot. Look in your back seat before entering your car. Be aware of your surroundings by looking to the left and right, and behind you, with your head up at all times. An attacker will think twice about approaching someone who appears so aware of what is going on.

6) Trusting a clean-cut, honest-looking stranger. Most sex offenders do not look like monsters. They often look like they could be your friendly grocer. They are every age between 15 and 90. Only a small minority actually look scary. There is a recent case of a one-legged man who beat up his victim with his crutch before he raped her.

7) When having your car serviced, give the attendant only the car keys, as they have key duplicators readily available, and they generally have your address on file. This has been the starting point for a number of rapes and kidnappings.

Of all major criminal statistics, rape and sexual assault is the only one that continues to rise steadily across almost all demographics. Heed the above points, but the ultimate protection is to get trained in the real-life skills of personal safety and self defense. So that when that moment comes, you will not be the next victim.

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Robin Schmitt writes stories on women’s safety.