How to Stop a Rapist

Women who fight a rapist are more likely to get injured than those who don’t, but they are less likely to be raped. And since physical injuries heal more easily than emotional wounds, fighting back is recommended by experts.

Rapists often depend upon a woman freezing with fear, making the crime easier to commit. But when women fight it can become so unpleasant that the rapist gives up, hoping for an easier target. (And if you yell for help, shout “fire,” not “rape.” People run to fires and away from sexual assault.)

That said, women who don’t fight should not be ashamed of their reaction. Every woman must use her best judgment at any moment, acting as she best sees fit in any circumstance.

As far as self-defense techniques go, it’s probably best to take a class, but here are a few tips that Cordelia Clancy of Concrete Jungle Self Defense offers when she visits our campus during Women’s History Month:

  • Appear confident
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Don’t wear things like headphones that distract your attention
  • Trust your instincts. Your primal brain often senses things that the rational brain does not
  • Leave a situation if you sense danger, and don’t worry about offending anyone
  • Never get in a car if an assailant tells you to. Your chances of surviving are much better if you run away. And people who are running don’t make good targets
  • Car keys between the fingers can make you look scared – and look like a promising victim
  • Weapons can be used against you, and it can take time to get into a purse to get them, so use your body, and things that are easily in reach as weapons (a pen, a book)
  • Make a hard part of your body go into a soft part of his
  • Jab fingers into eyes – shoot your fingers quickly and hard, straight through, aiming for the back of his scull
  • Jab a pen or notebook into his throat (to collapse a trachea)
  • Knees into groin
  • You get the idea
  • And then run (you may kick him while he’s down first)

Students sometimes ask if they could do something less violent and gruesome, uncomfortable with the idea of poking someone’s eyes out. Cordelia says that if you just annoy him but don’t disable him, you’ll only piss him off. And that won’t be good for you.

To get into the right frame of mind to fight, you need to create a thought like, “F-YOU!! YOU MESSED WITH THE WRONG GIRL!!!” to take you out of your everyday mindset and get into the frame of mind that you’ll need to defend yourself.

Don’t make your attacker’s life more important than your own.

Get more tips from Cordelia at Concrete Jungle Self Defense and look into taking a self-defense course.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on December 14, 2011, in rape and sexual assault and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. I think that this is a very informative article and holds important and useful information. At first, I could understand that the reaction would be fear, but I think that it is crucial to get angry and fight back. I couldn’t agree more that someone would have a better chance at getting away if they put up a fight. I think that if you make it hard as hard as possible for the attacker, then they would no longer want to pursue you and would give up. I’ve always thought that if you fought back but didn’t end up escaping, then the attacker would just grow angry and it would make matters worse. But, I’ve realized that it is better to put up a fight and make it harder on the attacker because your chance of escaping would be much higher than if you did not fight. All of the tips are very important, but the ones that stood out to me were to trust your instincts, be aware of your surroundings, and to never get into a car if the attacker tells you to but to run instead because these could help you read a situation from the very beginning and then what to do once the attacker gives you orders.

  2. I think this is a good article to inform women what to do when they’re in a bad situation. Some girls might be too scared to hurt someone because we are taught to be nice. But sometimes being nice only gets you into bad situations. I think most women might be too scared to do anything and just freeze up. But what the article said is right, It is better to heal from a wound from fighting back than not fighting and deal with the mental abuse of a rape. You don’t want to think back and regret not fighting back because you we’re too scared.

  3. This is a really helpful article, I didn’t realize that I was doing some of the things you’re not supposed to such as putting your car keys between your fingers. I was taught that your supposed to hold your keys when you walk back to your car so you won’t take to long to open your car door and create an opportunity to get attacked. And if you do on the way, you can use your keys as a weapon to attack your assailant. Now I am kind of confused about how to go back to my car since holding your keys does make you seem like you’re scared of being attacked which may get you chosen as a target. I do have a minor fear of being unable to fight back a rapist, not that I lack the ‘don’t mess with me’ spirit but because I am physically very small. I think there are some high schoolers bigger than me and I am already 20. I do feel extremely queasy about stabbing a pen into someone’s throat or jabbing his eyes out so I think I may have to pretend to go along with it, and then kick him in the groin to escape. I know it’s better that the rapist should be punished for his foolish decision than having the one being raped get killed, but I personally can’t help but feel some resistance to the thought of poking someones eyes out unless I know for sure it is the only way to save my life.

  4. I just came across your blog to my pleasant surprise. I would like to clarify a couple of principles from my presentation that this blog is based on, if that’s ok 🙂

    “Make a hard part of your body go into a soft part of his” would more accurately be stated as:
    “Use a stronger body-weapon against a weaker target on him.”
    This means, for example fingers target eyes, elbow/forearm smashes the throat, knees blast into testicles etc. That way HE gets injured, you don’t. (Conversely, men often break their knuckles each others skulls in streetfights, as knuckles are weaker than skull bones.)

    “Weapons can be used against you”… actually my point there is only IF you hesitate to use them on him! If you carry a weapon, great! But you’d better be prepared to use it!! Weapons are a great equalizer / deterrent IF you don’t hesitate or show reluctance. But weapons can be psychological crutches, that people feel powerless without if they can’t get to them on time, so it’s best to be a Human Weapon System™. If you happen to have an external weapon available, all the better. But you’re not dependent on anything external, as you can drop the guy with your natural arsenal if need be.

  5. I think this article is very good information for women to avoid getting into such a bad situation. Women cannot be too careful about protecting themselves. Violent physical rape is horrifying and the psychic trauma remains. Also when the rape victims report the crime, they suffer from not only rape itself, but the second rape. The policeman, attorneys, judges, medical people and others reintroduce the feeling of violation. Some of them think that the victims “asked for it,” that is, if a woman were raped by strangers, acquaintances, or anyone else, she would still be judged as guilty, even she is a victim. The rape victims will never be understood and that’s why rape is the most underreported crim. All women should be prepared.

  6. Why would you want to say F word you to a rapist if you don’t want them to have sex with you?

  7. ALL WOMEN LISTEN!!!! If you feel unsafe with a man or someone else,do it moving. I know you think men are stronger,but you are stronger mentally. If all else fails,bend but don’t break,hit him in his “jewels”. Women should not be afraid,stay on your toes like a ballerina.

  8. I agree that people will react differently to this type of situation. Their fight or flight is very important to keep in mind, with the goal to survive. Some females might think that because males have more strength that they have no hope, in reality it is those small things that keep someone safe in dangerous situations. What caught my attencion about this article is the fact that it mentions to yell “Fire” and not “Rape”. Both may result in death of an individual, but people are less concerned with victims of rape. I’ve heard people say that rape victims bring it upon themselfs. For example by dressing suggestively or like the article mentions listening to music. It trulgy bugs me that we can’t even trust people to be able to walk around our own homes peacefully.

  9. I think most women would feel powerless when they are in a situation like this and that becomes the reason why they would freeze with fear when they’re about to be raped by their attacker. I feel that women should be more informed about this subject and should be taught on how to stop a rapist in their teenage years when they’re taught about sex education as a precaution. There are other ways to take precautions such as taking a martial arts class, but it’s most important for women to know that they’ve got to fight back to make it the crime more difficult for the rapist to commit.

  10. I think every woman should read this article to inform her of what she should do in this situation. My mother has warned me to never go anywhere alone at night. She urged me to make it a habit to park as close to the store as possible, preferably within the radius of a camera. My parents gave me pepper spray once I became old enough to drive, and on my 18th birthday, they presented me a Taser gun. My parents have always been paranoid but I think their precautions give them a bit more peace of mind. I have never been in a situation where I received advances from a stranger but if I did, I hope I will be prepared.

  11. I would encourage all women to look into taking a brazilian jiu jitsu class and dedicate at least six months to the program. It is a ground fighting martial art that emphasizes use of leverage and positioning over pure strength. It is also a great work cardio and strength workout as well. But that is not why i feel every women should learn it. One of the most basic and fundamental offensive positions in the sport is called the Guard. When you are in the guard position you are on your back and your opponent is between your legs. while I am not an expert on rape I can assume that many rapes occur with the man forcing himself on top of the women between her legs. From this position there are literally hundreds of attacks you could perform on a rapist. These range from various chokes that could allow you to cause your assailant to pass out before they were aware of what was happening to them. Also there holds you can do to attack joints and weaker bones, using leverage and proper technique you can snap bones and tear tendons very easily. Also there are reverses and escapes that would allow you get away from a rapist. The beauty of this sport is that you do not need to be very strong to do some very serious damage or even kill someone if it came down to it. Also many of the moves are subtle and an unaware attacker could misconstrue the movement as something non threatening. BUT be aware you must be proficient and have good technique in order to pull off some of these moves. Just some ideas to help my fellow women protect themselves.

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