SARC provides tips on sexual assault prevention

  • Published
  • By Kimberly Shirley
  • Sexual Assault Response Coordinator
I had an opportunity to speak with a deputy sheriff from the Palmdale Calif., office, and he provided me with the following information. A group of rapists and date rapists were interviewed while serving time in prison and they were asked "What do you look for in a potential rape victim?" 

One of the first things rapists look for is the hairstyle of the victim. Women with long hair worn in a ponytail, bun or braid are easier to grab and hold on to. Women with short hair are not common, easy targets. 

The second thing these men said they look for is the type of clothing. Is the clothing easy to remove or easy to cut away? Many admitted to carrying scissors and knives just for that reason. 

Women who leave buildings by themselves, rustling through their purses and shopping bags, or talking on a cell phone while looking for keys are targets for rapists. They are not paying attention to their surroundings and are easy prey to the rapist. 

Some men pick their targets between 5 and 8:30 a.m. when women are alone getting into a car on their way to work or are home alone after the spouse has gone to work. Rapists stake out the homes of potential victims who have routine lifestyles. 

The No. 1 place women are abducted is grocery store parking lots, and the second is office parking lots or garages. The third is public restrooms. The thought process for these men is to move the victim to another location quickly where they don't have to worry about being caught. 

Rapists shy away from women with canes, umbrellas or objects that can be used from a distance. Keys are not a deterrent because the rapists can get very close to you and over power you. 

These particular rapists said that if a victim puts up any kind of fight or resistance, they get discouraged because it becomes obvious that going after this type of victim is time-consuming. They also said they very rarely use a weapon while committing an assault. A rape conviction carries a three to five year sentence but rape with a weapon carries 15 to 20 years. 

Don't let this lull you into a false sense of security though, always think the worst about a rape situation and prepare to fight for your life. 

Here a few safety tips the deputy sheriff had to offer:

-- If a van is parked on the driver side of your car, go around to the passenger side of your car and observe the van. Men have abducted women easily by pulling them into the sliding door of a van and taking off. Walk away, go back into the building and ask for someone to walk you to your car 

-- Look inside your car, check the back seats, floorboards and the passenger side before you get in. 

-- When at home, look through the peephole before opening, and challenge people who you are not expecting. Beware of someone asking you to open your door to assist them. Offer to call 911 to help the person. 

-- It's always better to be safe than sorry and on your guard than dead. Should you find yourself or someone you know in a situation involving a sexual assault, it's important to know the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator is available to help. 

For more information, call 277-7272 and the 24/7 on-call number at 209-0115.