NOTE** I am currently hosting a Facebook Party with Damsel in Defense. If you are interested in looking at or purchasing some of their product. Click on the hyperlink above and visit the page (Open from 4/12/2015-4-19-2015)
Warning: this post contains trauma triggers. It discusses rape and some stories. It is meant to educate and to help bring awareness about rape. If you would like the resources without reading through the possible triggers below, please visit this post instead.
What is rape? According to dictionary.com the 1997 definition of rape is: “the crime of forcing a woman to submit to sexual intercourse against her will.”
What is the difference between rape and sexual harassment? Well sexual harassment is, ”Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that tends to create a hostile or offensive environment.” Once this moves into actual sexual action, it is considered rape.
An updated definition states that rape is “ A criminal offense defined in most states as forcible sexual relations with a person against that person’s will.” Or “Rape is the commission of the unlawful sexual intercourse or unlawful sexual intrusion.”
Ladies and gentlemen, take a look at our perpetuated rape culture. The above definitions are only a very limited view of what rape really is. So what is rape really?
Rape is “NO!” and doing it anyway.
Rape is “Okay… Wait, I’m not ready.” and doing it anyway.
Rape is “I’m not sure.” and doing it anyway.
Rape is “Yes.” then “No.” at any time and doing it anyway.
Rape is when they are drunk and doing it anyway.
Rape is when they are passed out and doing it anyway.
Rape is when they are too young to make a choice and doing it anyway.
Rape is when they are disabled and cannot make that kind of decision and doing it anyway.
Rape is when they are emotional and vulnerable and doing it anyway.
Rape is using violence or fear to get to “yes.”
Rape is silence and doing it anyway.
Rape is fear, tears, confusion, anxiety, blame, abuse, assault, harassment.
Even if they “liked it”, even if they “came”, it’s still rape.
And most importantly, Rape is illegal and sickening.
Fighting rape and rape culture is something that we, as both women and men, should not need to do; however, we live in an age where we are still victim blaming, slut shaming, and explaining the reasoning for rape.
THIS IS NOT OKAY!
While I cannot change the current views of the world alone, I can explain what I know and what I have done to better protect myself in the hopes that it helps other women (and men, and youth) protect themselves and stop the perpetuation of rape.
I was raped when I was barely 18, I felt powerless and defeated. I felt broken, dirty, and worthless. I felt weak, useless, and like it was entirely my fault. So first you all need to know: if you have been, or are in the future, raped: it is NOT your fault. Regardless of how it happened, you did what you could in that moment. Don’t beat yourself up for the could haves, should haves, and would haves, It happened. The best thing you can do is learn from it and try to protect yourself better in the future. (God I hate those words, but they are much of what I have to heal with right now.) If you know someone who has been raped, it’s not their fault, show them empathy and support. If you blame them, get the fuck off of my blog right now.
The statistics are sad; according to nsopw.gov about 20 million out of 112 million women (~18%) in the USA have reported being raped during their lifetime while only an estimated 16% of all rapes (both male and female) are ever reported to law enforcement. 81% of women who experienced rape, stalking, or physical violence by an intimate partner reported significant short or long-term impacts.
Many rape victims experience PTSD from their experience. Many people disregard their symptoms, but I live with flashbacks and nightmares. If I have something that reminds me of the event, or I see someone that looks like my rapist, I experience the event over again like I am there in the room back in July 2009. Sometimes it’s strange things. The way I look at Christmas lights, a plasma television set, a ripped-up old couch, being touched a certain way, some subjects of talking, a specific car, an area of trees that look similar to the ones near his house, the smell of mildew, wood smoke, and beer, the way a man walks… there are so many small things that may seem silly to some people.
Last year I was in a couple classes with a male who looked very similar to my rapist. I think I would have been mostly okay, except this student talked out, a lot. He did a lot of things to draw attention to himself, and then started sitting right next to me, and wanting to talk to me. I stopped going to those classes. I started hiding. I started getting bad headaches and high anxiety. I would hide on the opposite side of the university and try not to shake and cry. My professor pushed me to find out why I wasn’t coming to class. When I finally broke down and told him that I was having PTSD episodes he told me: “You’re an adult, get over it.” That is NOT how you treat a rape victim.
Nsopw.gov says that in 2006 300,000 college women reported being raped. There are not statistics about college males.
Being raped as a minor can increase your chances of being raped as an adult. So what are the ways to be “raped as a minor”?
Molestation: “The crime of sexual acts with children up to the age of 18, including touching of private parts, exposure of genitalia, taking of pornographic images, rape, inducements of sexual acts with the molester or with other children and variations of these acts by pedophiles. Molestation also applies to incest by a relative with a minor family member, and any unwanted sexual acts with adults short of rape.” Dictionary.com
Parentsformeganslaw.org states that 1 in 3 girls are molested while 1 in 6 boys are. 15% of rape victims are under 12 years old and 44% are under 18. 93% of juvenile victims know their attacker. Child molestation is one of the most UNDERREPORTED crimes: only 1-10% are ever disclosed(legally), and it is estimated that there are over 60 million survivors of childhood sexual abuse in the United States today.
Statutory rape: “Sexual intercourse by an adult with a person below a statutorily designated age.” (usually designated by state). “The criminal offense of statutory rape is committed when an ‘adult’ sexually penetrates a person who under the law, is incapable of consenting to sex. Minors are physically and mentally incapacitated persons deemed incapable of consenting to sex under rape statutes in all states. These persons are considered deserving of special protection because they are especially vulnerable due to their youth or condition.” –dictionary.com.
Ncjrs.gov says that approx. 1 in 5 high school girls report being physically or sexually abused by a dating partner. In 2000 there was 1 statutory rape for every 3 forcible rapes involving a juvenile victim. And regardless of gender 3/5 victims of statutory rape were between the ages of 14-15 years old.
Nsopw.gov: about 30% of women who were raped as minors were also raped as adults, compared to 14% of women without an early rape history.
I absolutely hate this… but:
My first response–after being raped–was to stop biting my nails. Fingernails make the perfect weapon. Use your natural weapon to fight back the best you can. Dig your nails into their skin, Press your thumbnails hard into their eyes or into the hollow of their neck. It is OKAY to hurt your attacker. PROTECT YOURSELF.
I started to find things that I could use around me that I could use if I needed to fight someone away at a moment’s notice. My purse could be used with some force swung up into the groin of a male. With Post Traumatic Stress Disorder fueling my mind with constant anxiety and awareness, I started to pick up on things quickly.
Women’s health states that you should never reason with your attacker (these points are for more than just rapists, but muggers and other attacks as well.) I fully agree with this. If you get grabbed, do whatever you can to cause that M0F0 Damage.
So, how do we successfully cause damage? Well, when I go to meet new people, I wear my steel toe sneakers. I kick in the groin with steel toes? That is going to cause some serious damage. I read a forum post that suggested that any kicks above the waist could be fatal and a well planted kick below the waste could snap bones. Below I am going to post some popular self-defense weapons, how to use them, and some “household” substitutions to use in a pinch.
Pepper spray: (Now, Mace is similar to pepper spray, but has no effect on those under the influence of drugs and alcohol while pepper spray does. Mace is also usually harder to get ahold of depending on what state you are in and sometimes needs a permit to carry around.) Pepper spray is meant to cause temporary blindness and problems breathing. Some brands of pepper spray even have UV dye so that if the perpetrator is apprehended days later, they can still be identified by the dye in their eyes. While my substitutions do not have the dying property, they can still cause some serious eye damage and you should be able to get away, assuming that you can get it in their eyes. (*Note: I found an Iphone 4 case that has built in pepper spray and can be found here http://www.amazon.com/SABRE-SmartGuard-Pepper-Spray-iPhone/dp/B007YXWADG).
How to use pepper spray: There are some great pepper spray tips here http://pepperspray.lifetips.com//cat/59739/using-pepper-spray-techniques/index.html
*TIP: Be careful in wind, if you are down-wind from your spray, you will not hit your attacker, and you will hit yourself!
*TIP: Do NOT leave in a hot car or purse, pepper spray can explode!
Some decent substitutions for pepper spray, which may not work as well but that could possibly be found in a purse, include: breath spray, perfume, sour candy spray, hairspray, hand sanitizer spray. Also throwing dirt, grass, woodchips, or small rocks into the attackers eyes can stun them enough for you to get away.
- Display your baton openly. Often, just the presence of this weapon deters an assailant. Holsters are available that attach to your belt so the baton is in clear view of any would-be attackers. Since criminals usually look for easy targets, simply displaying a baton may help avoid an attack in the first place.
- Grasp the baton firmly in your hand and quickly flick your wrist. This will open the baton. You want to maintain a secure, but not tight, hold of the baton. Since fluidity of motion is required to strike effectively, a grip that is too firm will cause tightness in your wrist and arm, decreasing your ability to strike quickly and smoothly.
- Create a distance of a few feet between you and your assailant, if at all possible. In order for your strikes to be effective, make room to maneuver. Take a step back or to the side to create the distance needed.
- Target your attacker’s weapon to disarm him. Then, aim for the bony areas of the body, including the head, knees, collarbone, ribs, elbows or wrists. This is much more effective than striking areas of muscle. While muscle strikes will hurt, they are not nearly as debilitating as a strike to a bony area.
- Block your attacker’s blows, and aim at disabling him, if possible. Stop him long enough to get away and get help. Put your whole body into the strike. Using only your arm for leverage is not nearly as effective as a strike that has the force of your body behind it.
- Close your baton by holding it perpendicular to the ground, and strike the tip firmly onto the ground. This will start the retraction process. Continue to tap the ground until all the sections of the baton have retracted, and the baton is in its closed form
Substitutions: Brush (bristles in the face can cause some decent damage), heavy flash light, hard water bottles, umbrella (plus the spring loaded ones can be used when closed to push someone away when you hit the button to open them—just open and run)
Substitutions: pens, metal nail file.
Brass Knuckles: http://www.ehow.com/how_8128505_punch-brass-knuckles.html
- Learn the meaning and mechanics of an effective punch. Use your complete body, including legs, shoulders, hips, arm and fist. The difference between a regular punch and one using brass knuckles is that the former requires direct impact using your whole extended arm. When throwing a punch wielding brass knuckles, your strike should be a bit more curved along the arms, but keeping the wrist straight. This will decrease the direct impact on your bones, diminishing the risk of injury.
- Familiarize with your own body and practice punches before using brass knuckles. This will help you keep active, and you will get used to the sensation of throwing effective punches. Practice with a punching bag and concentrate. Elevate the intensity and speed when necessary.
- Put on the brass knuckles by placing the fingers into the four small holes and draw them across the palm. Press the thumb towards the forefinger.
- Stand putting your legs shoulder width, and bend your knees slightly. Step forward with the foot on the side of the arm that won’t punch. Bend your hips in order to charge energy for the strike. Hips and shoulders will turn when throwing the punch. Press your punching hand to form a tight fist. Don’t get your thumb close to your fingers.
- Clear your mind, aim the target, focus and throw your powerful punch. Keep your wrist extended in one direction, without a curve. However, do throw your punches on a slanted direction. Hit your target with the two knuckles closest to your thumb, since these are the hardest to be broken.
- Brass knuckles should be used only for self-defense.
- Brass knuckles are illegal in some states. Verify your state’s laws regarding the use and possession of brass knuckles prior to purchasing a set.
Substitutions: Roll of coins in your fist, keys, rings.
Personal Alarms: Women’s health says that you don’t have time to wait for a hero. Which I agree with, though it also says that screaming gives your attacker an opportunity to attack you, which I disagree with. Scream while you are attacking. Bring attention to yourself. You want to bring attention to the situation. You want someone to call the police. You might scare your attacker away, or you might have to fight, but if you can get any help on the way, it might keep you alive. Or purchase a personal alarm that will scream for you at the flip of a switch or press of a button.
Stun Guns Vs Tasers: Now A stun gun is a handheld electrical device that has probes or prongs attached to the device. It must be touched physically to the attacker. Stun guns are inexpensive, require no registration, are usually rechargeable, are easier to conceal and even come in interesting and discrete designs (such as a small phone), most have a higher voltage than Tasers, and there is nothing to replace (unless you have a holster).
A Taser is an electrical device that shoots an electrically charged projectile at the target; generally they look like a gun and have disposable cartridges. Batteries usually have to be replaced and the charge is fairly low. However a Taser can shoot up to 30 feet away and can run a charge for several seconds. While this weapon can stop an attacker at a distance, it is very expensive, requires training, generally needs registration and a background check, and looks like a gun. In some states it is even illegal to own one if you are not law enforcement.
Guns: in most states a concealed carry license is required. In some states a license is required to own any gun. I would suggest using a gun for home defense only. I also don’t really like guns, but that is just my opinion. If you want to use a gun, or have a concealed carry, please take the proper classes and training for it.
Teeth: your teeth are a marvelous weapon, one downfall is you don’t necessarily know what your attacker might have, so you are at risk of anything that can travel through blood, however, you could be at risk anyway if they rape you. So, I’d rather bit them bloody then let them have a chance to touch me that way.
Belt: Whip it; use it for binding until law enforcement can get there, etc.
Rocks: bash, throw, etc.
Hot Drinks & Cold Drinks can be used to burn or stun an attacker.
If you would like to learn more about self-defense I would suggest taking a self-defense class. (women, they have women’s self-defense classes that are made to teach you how to fight off male attackers).
Before buying any weapons look up your states laws on weapons.
Companies that sell products for women defense:
Damsels in Defense was the only consultant based personal defense company that I could find. www.damselindefense.net .
Women on Guard is an online store for personal defense items. http://www.womenonguard.com/
Safety Girl is a website that sells not only personal defense items but items for women that work in construction, including pink work boots and tool-belts. http://www.safetygirl.com/
www.selfdefenseproducts.com is a generic website for personal defense products with less attractive items.
www.tbotech.com is another generic website for personal defense products with less attractive items.
Sports stores, hunting stores, and military surplus stores usually carry many of the self-defense products listed here.
If you have weapons you need to be willing to use what you have and KNOW HOW TO USE IT! You cannot be afraid to use your weapon because it could mean your life.
On the flip side, Women’s health says that emotions should not be avoided in a dangerous situation, especially fear. I agree, adrenalin has lead mothers to lift up cars. It can add a lot of strength and force to most attacks and a huge amount of breath and volume behind a scream if needed. Go with your instincts of fight or flight and let adrenalin take control.
I was drinking with a friend in the late summer of 2013. Around 3:00 AM I decided that I really needed to go on a walk. So my friend and I started out. Now, growing up in Utah in the suburban area of American Fork and Pleasant Grove meant that I felt safer than I should have walking around drunk in the early morning in the dark. The first half of our walk was great. We headed up the road north until we reached the end of the road. We tuned around walked back down the road and ended up at American Fork High School with the intention of walking around the track.
We were making our way across the parking lot when a pick-up truck starts rushing towards us. Had we been “fearless” we wouldn’t have ran. We made it through the gate and halfway around the school before we realized that the whole other side of the school was gated off. We had to go back the way we had come and neither of us had thought to grab our phones. My friend was crying because she couldn’t function at 100% while drunk and I was starting to get pissed off. No one makes my friends cry and this situation wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t have felt like walking at 3 AM.
So I lead the way back around the school, running from shadow to shadow. We made it to the shadow of the seminary building when the truck came back down the road. I shoved her into a dark shadow and the truck passed. It was terrifying. We ran the rest of the way home. Now I own a stun gun that I go walking with. If I was in that situation again, I would wait behind the school, they couldn’t have gotten to me while still in the truck, and if they had approached on foot, I would have shocked them. My fear would have been my friend. Adrenalin is a “fight or flight” response. So flight was our response initially, and in the future it will be fight. I can protect myself. And I know that I can run and get away. But I will also have the ability to fight when I need to.
Now, there is another product for personal “defense” that I have not yet mentioned, and I have waited for a reason. There are products on the market that test for date rape drugs.
There is currently Date-rape nail polish under development that will detect date rape drugs in your drink when your finger is dipped in the beverage. And there are also strips that require a drop of your beverage to test if it is spiked..
The two above might not be helpful because most date-rapes happen using plain ol’ alcohol, nothing added. The drugs being tested are not used as often, your best chances of avoiding date-rape is:
- Don’t go out drinking alone.
- Guard you drink when you are at a bar or club
- If you start to feel oddly, let a friend know.
- Give someone a heads up to where you are going if you are meeting someone new.
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- If possible take self-defense classes.
- Be willing to injure your attacker.
- If you have a weapon, be willing to use it!
- College students: if your campus has security phones/buttons, know where they are and don’t be afraid to use them in an emergency.
- Have campus security/safety/local police programmed into your phone.
Now, you may feel like I have forgotten something very important, but I have not, there just is not enough information available about male rapes. According to Rainn.org 28% of reported male rape victims were first raped when they were 10 years old or younger and about 3% of American men have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.
Though the number is much smaller, I don’t believe the numbers are fully accurate. Men have a harder time admitting to being raped or even being able to accept it themselves. Most will never admit that it happened, thus, we will never know the true numbers.
If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for other “household weapons” that a woman could easily carry in her purse, feel free to comment.
My story in slam:
Read My Follow-up Post.