The headlines in the news media today are centered around the abductions and murders that have been going on around the US. A group of rapists and date rapists in prison were interviewed on what they look for in a potential victim and here are some interesting facts:
The first thing men look for in a potential victim is hairstyle. They are most likely to go after a woman with a ponytail, bun, braid or other hairstyle that can easily be grabbed. They are also likely to go after a woman with long hair. Women with short hair are not common targets.
Men look at the clothing being worn. They will look for women who's clothing is easy to remove quickly. Many of them carry scissors.
They also look for women on their cell phone, searching through their purse or doing other activities while walking because they are off guard and can be easily overpowered.
The time of day men is most likely to attack and rape a woman is in the early morning, between 5 and 8:30 a.m.
Number one place women are abducted from/attacked at is grocery store parking lots.
Number two is office parking lots/garages.
Number three is public restrooms.
The thing about these men is that they are looking to grab a woman and quickly move her to a second location where they don't have to worry about getting caught. Only 2% said they carried weapons because rape carries a 3-5 year sentence but rape with a weapon is 15-20 years. If you put up any kind of a fight at all, they get discouraged because it only takes a minute or two for them to realize that going after you isn't worth it because it will be time-consuming. These men said they would not pick on women who are carrying umbrellas or other similar objects that can be used from a distance. Keys are not a deterrent because you have to get really close to the attacker to use them as a weapon. So, the idea is to convince these guys you're not worth it.
Several defense mechanisms are:
If someone is following behind you on a street or in a garage or with you in an elevator or stairwell, look them in the face and ask them a question, like "what time is it?", or make general small talk, "I can't believe it is so cold out here, we're in for a bad winter." Now you've seen their face and could identify them in a line-up, you lose appeal as a target.
If someone is coming toward you, hold out your hands in front of you and yell STOP or STAY BACK! Most of the rapists said they'd leave a woman alone if she yelled or showed that she would not be afraid to fight back. Again, they are looking for an EASY target.
If you carry pepper spray, and it is highly recommend that you carry it and keep it where you can easily get to it, yelling I HAVE PEPPER SPRAY and holding it out will be a deterrent.
If someone grabs you, you can't beat them with strength but you can by outsmarting them: If you are grabbed around the waist from behind, pinch the attacker either under the arm between the elbow and armpit or in the upper inner thigh - HARD. (One woman in a class told of pinching the underarm on a guy who was trying to date rape her - she broke through the skin and tore out muscle strands - the guy needed stitches.) Try pinching yourself in those places as hard as you can stand it; it hurts.
After the initial hit, always go for the groin. You might think that you'll anger the guy and make him want to hurt you more, but the thing these rapists said is that they want a woman who will not cause a lot of trouble. Start causing trouble, and he's out of there. When the guy puts his hands up to you, grab his first two fingers and bend them back as far as possible with as much pressure as possible.
Of course the things we always hear still apply. Always be aware of your surroundings, take someone with you if you can and if you see any odd behavior, don't dismiss it, go with your instincts. You may feel a little silly at the time, but you'd feel much worse if the guy really was trouble.