Sexual assault is a common occurrence in our modern society, and it seems that this subject is not given the proper attention it deserves. Even worse, few women acknowledge the fact that they may one day be subjected to such a scenario.
I will never forget the last words I heard from a very close friend who was leaving for a vacation in Mexico: “Stop worrying about me. I’ll be okay.” I never saw her alive again. She was raped and had her throat cut on the beach. She refused to believe that there was anything dangerous about sleeping on the beach.
Avoidance and response when it comes to sexual assault
At the other extreme are the people who feel that they are prepared to protect themselves because they carry a canister of mace, a belt buckle knife, or have their keys clenched between their fingers, prepared to slash at a potential attacker’s face. By relying on a “weapon,” they have misunderstood what personal security is all about.
Personal security is an active and dynamic process of analysis and decision making. It is composed of two constituents: avoidance and response.
Avoidance is comprised of all those things we do that keep us from being victimized. It accounts for about 95% of our security. The response is what we do once we realize we are being victimized.
In its quest to portray more “realistic” violence ever, Hollywood has gotten these percentages reversed and created the impression that no matter how dire the circumstance, the good guy will fight his way out, especially if he has a special gadget with him. Things seldom work out that way in real life, however.
What does all this have to do with sexual assault?
We need to stop thinking about sexual assault as a separate issue. It is one part of personal security. What is valid for sexual assault, specifically, is also valid for personal security in general. Sexual assault is not an expression of unfulfilled sexual desire. It is a violent and brutal attack intended to subjugate and humiliate the victim through sexual exploitation.
Historical, societal roles, and the size, weight, and strength superiority enjoyed by the male attacker creates the psychological predisposition on the part of the victim to think that she is helpless.
Disbelief and shock combine to create the frequently reported paralyzing reaction that, “This can’t be happening to me.” The victim often experiences a psychological withdrawal that puts her into an observer mode. The victim may lie there, virtually unable to take action.
Even if she doesn’t suffer physical injury in the attack, the psychological trauma will be a long-term burden. Women who, on the other hand, react by struggling may provoke their attacker to use more force than he originally intended. Undirected struggling, like the helpless splashing of a drowning man, expends tremendous amounts of energy without producing any positive results.
Options against sexual assault
What then are a woman’s options?
Should she try to talk her way out of the situation through psychological in the manipulation of her attacker?
Should she passively submit to the sexual assault?
Or should she resort to physical force to disable her attacker and escape?
Before automatically discarding the last option, let’s consider two very important concepts.
First, the action is faster than reaction. This is precisely why the attacker gains control of the situation. He has the initiative, and the victim is forced into a reactive mode. To be successful in any physical response, the victim must snatch the initiative away from her attacker and —assume the active role.
Second, superior size, weight, and strength do not determine the outcome of a rape attempt. Directed aggressiveness expressed through surprise, speed, and violence of action are the determining factors in defeating a rapist.
It would require an entire book to present a complete rape prevention course. In this short article, I will outline the steps necessary to develop an effective personal security attitude and demonstrate the principles that will allow a woman to defeat a more powerful attacker.
The conventional approach to preventing a sexual assault utilizes the “checklist prescription” which is a list of dos and don’ts such as don’t undress in front of an un-shaded window, do look behind the car seat before getting in, don’t walk alone late at night, and do lock doors and windows.
Rather than using a list of specific things that relies on the memorization process, I prefer to foster the thinking process through the application of four basic principles that pertain to all personal security situations.
Memorizing a set of specific guidelines can never be a substitute for the dynamic process of analytical thinking and decision making.
Make the following four principles a part of your life, a part of the way you view the world, and you will discover that you are more confident, less vulnerable, and are better prepared to respond effectively to the unexpected.
1. INCREASE YOUR AWARENESS
You should increase your awareness in both the general and specific senses.
In the general sense, learn more about the nature and scope of the threats that exist in your area. Read the accounts of criminal activity in the newspaper or online and learn from the experience of others. Read the books on sexual assault available and learn from women who were a victim of sexual assailants.
Increase your awareness in the specific sense by paying more attention to what is going on around you. Develop a dialogue with yourself as you go through the day. Analyze what you see and determine if it might present a threat to you.
For example, I drove to a pizza parlor with a friend of mine. We stopped in front, and she started to get out of the car. “Wait a minute, what’s wrong with this picture?” asked as I motioned toward the large front windows. She looked, but she did not comprehend what she saw because her sense of awareness was not adequately developed. No one was moving inside the pizza parlor.
A man wearing a hoodie, with both his hands in his pockets, was behind the counter. It looked too much like a robbery in progress for me to go inside, so I suggested we wait in the car. After a minute or so of observation, I saw the man in the hoodie remove both hands from his pockets, and the employees behind the counter begin to talk to him as he walked back and forth.
It wasn’t a robbery, just an off duty employee wearing a long hoodie visiting with his friends. Being observant and analyzing what I saw only took one short minute out of my life, but that minute may have kept us from walking into the middle of an armed robbery.
2. LOWER YOUR PROFILE.
Do women contribute to their own victimization by attracting the attention of a potential rapist? Statistics indicate that nearly 90 percent of sexual attackers live in the same neighborhood as their victims, raising the question of whether a pre-attack selection process may precede the actual rape.
Many convicted rapists have expressed the sentiment that “she wanted it” or “she was asking for it.” This is, of course, a perception that exists in the mind of the rapists, not necessarily in reality.
Your profile is more than your appearance. It includes your vulnerability and your perceived ability to defend yourself. If you jog in isolated areas, park in enclosed structures or on dark streets, think about your profile as an attractive victim and see if you can modify your routine to make yourself a more difficult target for a potential rapist.
3. LEARN HOW TO RECOGNIZE AND AVOID POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS SITUATIONS.
Recognizing a potentially dangerous situation without taking action to avoid becoming involved in it is asking to be victimized. I had a friend who saved herself from being kidnapped off the streets of Bogota, Columbia, by running across the street and into a taxi after she realized that two men were closing in on her. Once in the cab, she saw the men put their guns back under their coats, confirming her estimation of the situation.
Once we’ve increased our awareness, we’ll have a fairly good idea of what looks normal and what looks hinky. The big question is, why do we let our logical mind overrule our sixth sense and continue on a path that is uncomfortable.
The majority of victims I’ve interviewed during my years in law enforcement indicate that they felt something was wrong, but continued on anyway. If you see a situation developing that makes you feel uncomfortable, don’t go further into it. Immediately do whatever is necessary to remove yourself from the perceived threat.
4. MAKE THE PROPER RESPONSE IF CONFRONTED.
If someone points a gun at you and demands your purse, this isn’t the time to show him what you learned in your karate class. Nothing in your purse is worth your life. If you are attacked by a rapist, on the other hand, you should be thinking about escape.
There are very few situations that can’t be escaped from. The key is in knowing what to do and when to do it. Before you move, you must have the confidence that you have the knowledge and skill to execute the proper responses. You must then develop a primary plan, and an alternate, in case the primary one doesn’t work. If you have mentally practiced “What if” scenarios ahead of time, all this takes only a second or two.
You put the plan into effect at the best possible time — even if you have to wait to do it. The question you need to ask yourself is, “Is it possible to simply run away, or will I have to disable the attacker first?” In self-defense classes, many women have said, “Oh, I could never do that” when their trainers demonstrated disabling techniques.
If you are one of these people, now is the time to begin preparing yourself psychologically to deal with the consequences of being raped, or develop your confidence in the passive skills required to talk the rapist out of completing the act.
For those of you who are either unwilling or unable to use physical violence against your attacker, you need this very important piece of advice: Even though you are not physically in charge of the situation, you must put yourself in psychological command.
This a very important concept that is used in hostage survival training. If you submit to the rapist, do it because you considered all the other possibilities and CHOSE that one as the best or only way to ensure your survival.
This may sound a bit simplistic, but it will greatly reduce the anguish, self-loathing, and feelings of worthlessness that often plague rape victims long after the attack.
For the rest of you, who say, “Yes, I could hurt someone who is trying to rape me,” I want to share an effective means of escape that dramatically demonstrates the superiority of leverage, body dynamics, speed and decisiveness oversize, strength, and weight.
Defense techniques against sexual assault
Because I only demonstrate disarming techniques in person, I will ask you to assume that your attacker is unarmed.
What is the worst possible situation you can imagine yourself in?
Visualize the attacker on top of you. He has you pinned to the ground by the shoulders or by the arms. When put in this position, most women admit that they feel psychologically defeated, helpless, and completely intimidated by the man’s greater weight. But in fact, it IS possible to counter-attack from this position.
However, if you are still on your feet, never voluntarily go to the ground. It is far easier to escape and run when you are already on your feet.
At this point, you have prepared yourself psychologically to disable, perhaps permanently, this creature who is preparing to deal with the most emotionally crippling blow of your life. Once you begin your attack, don’t stop or let up until he is disabled, and you can safely escape. You begin the attack in one of two ways: by blinding him or crushing his testicles.
If you choose to attack his eyes, don’t use two fingers in the manner of the Three Stooges. Use your thumbs. Reach up gently with both hands as if you intend to pull his face closer to yours. Lock your fingers behind his jaw and press your thumbs into his eye, sockets with all your strength. Your thumbs should enter near the nose and drive back into the eye socket.
Read next: Vital Head Points To Exploit In Self Defense
You need to be aware that this is a lethal force event, and there is a slight possibility that this move may cause death. Most likely, however, it will only disable the attacker, causing temporary blindness. I recommend this technique only when you are in fear of bodily harm, and you feel you have no other option.
If you choose the testicle crushing option, you need to appear compliant enough that as you gently reach for his groin, he will be expecting something of a more affectionate nature. When you grasp the testicles, imagine them as a handful of soft dough. Crush that dough until it squeezes out between your fingers.
This technique will instantaneously disable the attacker but is unlikely to result in permanent damage. It may produce unconsciousness or at least a complete loss of muscular control, so be prepared to execute the next move, which will get you out from under him.
Regardless of which option you have chosen, blinding the attacker or crushing his testicles, your next move will be to roll free. Remember, this is a leverage movement, not a strength movement. The following movements are executed simultaneously, but I will describe them one at a time.
You are going to roll out from under the rapist. If you want to roll to the right, bring your left knee up as far as it will go, keeping your foot flat on the floor. You now have the leverage to roll by shoving off with your left leg. At the same time, grab his arms for stability as you roll.
If he has your arms pinned to the ground, pull them into your body. He will not be able to stop you. Reach across your body with your right hand and grab his right wrist. Now use your left arm and leg to propel yourself over. You will be amazed at how easily he will roll off of you. Continue your roll until you are over him, then drive your knee into his groin and smash a hammer fist into his neck. Don’t use the John Wayne, knuckle fist, but imagine you are holding an ice pick in your fist and are driving it into his neck.
Related reading: Body Targets To Exploit In Self-Defense
This is a smashing move as if you are driving a nail with a hammer or chopping wood with an axe. Now is not the time to stay around unleashing gratuitous violence on the disabled attacker. Spring to your feet and escape. Despite what you may have heard elsewhere, don’t yell, don’t attempt to form any words at all — just scream, and run for all you are worth.
This is just one of many ways that a confident and properly trained woman can escape from a physically more powerful attacker. Hopefully, you, as the victim, would have had the opportunity to escape before the situation got to this point.
Regardless of your level of skill in self-defense tactics, there is one critical element that is the basis of any successful encounter, and that is ATTITUDE. You must have the WILL TO SURVIVE and the WILL TO WIN.
You must have confidence in yourself and your training to know that you can do it. Students trained in the traditional martial arts often have difficulty making the transition to a purely real-world, no-holds-barred defensive fighting system. This is because they have been schooled in a system based on form and rules rather than results.
When you are defending yourself, you have to do whatever is required to win. When speaking of life-threatening situations: “Always cheat and always win, ALWAYS!”