Based on research by Hickman & Muehlenhard, 1997, Tark & Kleck 2014, written by Juanita N Baker, Ph.D.
What precautions can you take to prevent from being sexually assaulted?
In a national survey, 15% of college women reported being sexually victimized whereas only 2% of men did. Only 5% report the crime to police. Acquaintances were the sexual aggressors 84% of the time. Psychologists Hickman & Muehlenhard found that women, despite knowing that they were more likely to be raped by an acquaintance than a stranger, still feared being raped more by a stranger and took more precautions against them. Women likely have a greater sense of control and predictability about their acquaintances than with strangers. But, intimate partners do most of the sexual assaults. Most rape survivors have no known risk factors except their gender: being a woman.
Tark & Kleck used a National Crime Victimization Survey (1992-2002) of sexual assaults, to study the impact of victim resistance. They noted whether harm followed or preceded self-protective actions. Additional injuries besides rape, following victim resistance were rare whether acquaintance or stranger. Both forceful and non-forceful resistance reduced the risk of rape completion, and did not affect the risk of additional injury.
Conclusion? Immediate resistance and self-defense increases chance of avoiding rape completion without increasing risk of physical injury. Resist!
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Hickman, S.E. & Muehlenhard, C.L. (1997). College women’s fears and precautionary behaviors relating to acquaintance rape and stranger rape. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 21, 4, 527-547
Tark, Jongyeon and Kleck, Gary. (2014). Resisting Rape: The Effects of Victim Self-Protection on Rape Completion and Injury. Violence Against Women, 20, 3, 270-292. doi:10.1177/1077801214526050
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