The person you last talked to on your cell phone is.
Your second cousin is.
Your math professor is.
The entire Temple lacrosse team is.
Your RA is.
Your mother is.
Everyone is a potential rape victim.
Accepting that fact is the first step to preventing it.
Rape is an unthinkable, frantic situation almost like coming upon a bear in the wilderness.
There is the immediate panic at realizing the potential, life-threatening danger, and then consequential deer-frozen- in-headlights uncertainty – do you run?
Try to escape?
Fighting seems to be a hopeless tactic.
In the heat of the moment, this hesitation and indecision could mean the difference between coming out unharmed or falling victim.
The same is true of rape.
Imagining yourself as a victim of sexual assault and preparing yourself for it probably aren’t high on the list of things you were planning to do today.
Do it anyway.
There is no time like this minute to begin protecting yourself.
While nothing can prevent you from being chosen as a target, there are ways to keep yourself safer and reduce the likelihood of rape.
While sexual assault is generally considered a threat to women, men are also susceptible, particularly homosexuals because there is are emotional, romantic and sexual attachment involved.
With that in mind, you should be aware of the environment around you twenty-four hours a day, never letting your guard down.
That means the surroundings as well as the people in it.
Be observant on the street.
If you feel uncomfortable, or like someone is following you, get to the nearest house or store, stay near the curb, and avoid any dark areas or shortcuts.
When your car is involved, make sure the doors and windows are locked.
Park in well-lit areas and check inside before you get in.
If you are attacked, your line of defense will depend on a few variables: your surroundings and whether or not the attacker has a weapon.
In any case, the most important thing to remember is to stay calm so that you can think clearly.
If they have a gun, don’t do anything to upset them, but instead try to have them see you as a person by showing sympathy and understanding.
You are an individual, not an object.
If the attacker is unarmed, attempt to make as much of a scene as possible.
Honk the car horn, yell “Fire,” or “Police,” or scream “I don’t know this person!”
Bystanders will be more likely to offer assistance if they don’t feel like they’re intruding on a domestic dispute.
Assert yourself as much as possible.
Fight back if that doesn’t cause you further threat.
Aim for the eyes, groin, throat and knees.
The attacker is not invincible.
If you break free, try to reach an area with people, and at the very least try to recognize the assailant in order to identify him or her later.
If you fail to ward off the assault and are either raped or violated, report the crime immediately.
Either the police or rape crisis hotline will give you detailed instructions on how to handle the situation.
Showering, altering the crime scene and changing clothing could lessen the chance of catching the criminal.
Only 36 percent of rapes are actually reported to police.
By keeping the crime to yourself, you are absolving the attacker of consequence, preventing justice and endangering the next victim.
Temple offers services to assist victims of sexual assault and rape.
Contact them for more information.
I got negative feedback when I bounced this column idea off of people.
“Rape isn’t sexy,” they said.
“You write a sex column.”
That’s partially correct.
I do write a sex column, but there is no reason topics like prevention of rape shouldn’t be included under it just because I haven’t used the words “penis” or “vibrator” yet and my space is almost filled.
Sensationalism isn’t my goal.
If you want raw sex, rent a porno.
I hope the content of this column is entertaining and informational and helpful, and I welcome any comments or questions.
Nadia Stadnycki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.