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The issue that’s missing from the Republican debates? Sexual violence.

The US Centers of Disease Prevention and Control reports that 1.3 million women annually are victims of predatory sexual violence. They regard it as a public health crisis. One could reasonably expect that this epidemic of sexual violence would be of vital concern to our leaders, but did you hear it raised in the Republican debates? I didn’t. Planned Parenthood. Immigration. The budget. Building a wall on the Mexican border. Hillary Clinton’s emails. Syria. There was lots of anger and sparring on these issues. Sexual violence? No opinion.It seems the candidates regard the war on women as a lost cause. Either that, or it’s so unimportant to them, they don’t give it a second thought.
There is no reason for our leaders to be so complacent. Nothing has improved.  While other types of violent crime have decreased, the incidence of rapes and sexual homicides have skyrocketed. Even simple measures could make a difference. For example, rapists are known to follow their victims as they walk home along darkened streets. City councils could be providing better street lighting. Getting rid of the backlog of untested rape kits would make an even bigger difference. The Joyful Heart foundation reports there are hundreds of thousands of them. Yet it’s so often the case that after DNA testing leads to an arrest, it turns out the perpetrator was a serial offender. By failing to test rape kits, cities allow serial rapists to roam free, attacking more women.
Sexual violence is not an issue that galvanizes our leaders. They don’t debate it, they don’t campaign on it, they don’t ask women’s organizations, “what can I do to help make a difference?” They regard it as a non issue. Is it cynical to think that if 1.3 million males were raped annually in the USA, crimes of sexual violence would be a recurring topic in the Republican debates?

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Stig Larsson and the U.S. Congress

In 2009 President Obama declared a National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. “Sexual assault is pervasive in the United States,” stated the President. “One recent study found that 18 per cent of women in this country have been raped in their lifetimes.” Barack Obama issued a rallying cry. “ I urge all Americans to respond to sexual assault by creating policies at work and school, by engaging in discussions with family and friends, and by making the prevention of sexual assault a priority in their communities.”
Well, he did his best. Did it become a priority in most communities? Nope. Did it become a priority for state governments? Hardly. The President’s call to action pretty much fizzled, while statistics for sexual assault continued to rise. Does this nationwide indifference  encourage rapists to believe no one takes attacks on females seriously? Of course. How could it not?
Several years ago TV journalist Jane Velez-Mitchell declared that there was a “war on women.”’ She’s right. With nearly one in five women in the USA having experienced at least one rape, that’s a useful way to look at it. After all, Congress has a history of funding wars with taxpayers’ money. Now, imagine if Congress became just as committed to fighting the “war against women. ” Imagine if from middle school on, all females received training in how to escape dangerous individuals and situations.
Schools are mandated to instruct students —female and male—on what to do if a gunman is loose on school premises. So, ironically,  girls learn how to protect themselves against a mass killer— it is unlikely they will have to use these skills, but better safe than sorry! —but they don’t learn how to fight off a sexual assault. Although twenty percent of them will face that situation one day!
As well as training girls how to deal with dangerous individuals and unsafe situations, schools should be training boys as well. Not just how to lead other students to safety when a gunman roams the halls—although that is laudable— but how to stop a rape, and ensure the victim’s safety. There are a lot of boys who would welcome that training.
Stig Larsson was once a boy like that. As a teenager, he witnessed a gang rape. He felt powerless. He didn’t know what to do. His failure to act haunted him for years. As a result he created the character of Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. From a young age, Salander trained herself how to defeat any man who attempted to hurt her. The author said through his protagonist’s example he wanted to empower girls to be able to fight back effectively.
Wouldn’t it be something if Congress saw the same need, and actually did something about it?

Women’s Equality Day

I just learned that today is Women’s Equality Day. There’s never a lot of fanfare about this. It sort of sneaks up on you. For a lot of women, it’s just plain embarrassing to be reminded how little has happened since 1976— when our ‘special’ day was established. For example, only four months ago the Senate rejected the Equal Pay Bill.

I wish Women’s Equality Day could be more like Martin Luther King Day. There is much reason to celebrate that day. There have been significant strides in civil rights since Martin Luther King first arrived on the political stage, culminating today in a black president of the U.S.A. And when these hard won civil rights are denied or threatened, people take to the streets to protest, as they are doing in Ferguson. But I can’t help noticing, today being Women’s Equality Day and all, that there’s a deafening silence around the fact that 1. 3 million females are raped each year. What about their ‘rights’? Don’t they have any? Why isn’t there a nationwide protest? What is Women’s Equality Day celebrating anyway?

I’m happy that we finally got a black president in the White House. That is indeed progress that can be measured and deserves to be celebrated. But though Women’s Equality Day was established back in 1976, there has never been a woman president, nor has one been nominated by either party. Are we really regarded as equal? In 2008, for a short while it seemed like a woman had a good shot at the presidency, but does anyone remember the backlash Hilary Clinton received from male commentators in the media? I recall how vitriolic they were; I’d never heard anything like it. Male journalists analyzed Hilary Clinton’s legs, hairstyle, clothing; they made personal, offensive comments that would have been declared racially motivated if they’d been directed at Obama. But they weren’t racist, they were sexist, and even in 2014 that’s apparently regarded very lightly. In fact women are regarded as aggressive and humorless if they comment on it. It’s hard to imagine a black man’ being shrugged off as aggressive and humorless for commenting about racism, but misogyny is apparently more acceptable. So how far much have society’s attitudes towards women’s equality really evolved?

Take rape, for example: date rape, campus rape, stranger rape, rapes in the military, you name it, it’s never been so prevalent. The statistics for sexual violence against girls and women have skyrocketed since 1976, but I can’t see a corresponding outrage on Capitol Hill. When did people start accepting this trend as something sad but…well, inevitable? When did politicians become so complacent about the horrifying number of sex crimes against women that it is not even an issue they’re campaigning on? Why do thousands of rape kits sit gathering dust for years, while serial rapists walk around free? Is it because nine out of ten rapes happen to females? It might be, because I’m pretty sure that if 1.3 million males were raped in the USA every year, the Democrats and Republicans would declare a crisis and find a way of working together.

President Obama addressed the escalating rape statistics several years ago when he proclaimed April, 2009 to be National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. “Sexual assault is pervasive in the United States,” declared the President. “One recent study found that 18 per cent of women in this country have been raped in their lifetimes. In addition, rates of sexual assault remain startlingly high for students from high school to college A study of college women found that 13.7 percent of undergraduate women have been victims of sexual assault.”

Since 2009, the figures have only grown worse . The U.S. Center of Disease Prevention and Control in 2012 established that twenty percent of women in this country —one in 5 women! — have been raped or experienced an attempted rape; 10.5% of all high school girls have been sexually assaulted. One in four college girls experiences a sexual assault before she graduates.

“I urge all Americans” President Obama exhorted in his 2009 address, “ to respond to sexual assault by creating policies at work and school, by engaging in discussions with family and friends, and by making the prevention of sexual assault a priority in their communities.”

Well, that didn’t happen, did it? Unless I missed something. Five years after National Sexual Assault Awareness Month was instigated, little of what President Obama “urged” has happened. Instead there has been a growing complacency. “Sex crimes have risen dramatically in the last decade, “the FBI stated, “ and as I concerns law enforcement, it should be concerning all of us.” The FBI nailed it. Sex attacks on women and girls should be concerning the entire society our politicians, media, educators, athletic organizations, judges, military commanders, all of us. They should — but apparently they’re not.

So what are we meant to be celebrating, again?

How to fight dirty.

“Don’t ever let an attacker get control. Fight for your life. Scream as loud as you can. Spray Mace in his face. Kick him in the balls. Scratch at his eyes.” Serial killer Danny Rolling.

There is no such thing as a fair fight with a rapist.   Serial predators deliberately choose targets who are smaller than they are. So in a confrontation with a rapist who has the advantage of physical strength over his petite victim, sometimes the only way to escape,  is she knows how to fight dirty.

It’s not illegal to physically harm someone when you’re in danger says law enforcement. No court will convict you for what you had to do to escape a serial rapist or serial killer.

Eyes, Ears, Nose or Throat: fighting dirty.

These extreme measures are potentially lethal to your assailant. When you make the decision to strike, then commit to it fully. Do not hesitate, because you may only get one chance. Show no mercy, because you will receive none.

The eyes.
If he has his fingers around your throat, “don’t waste time trying to pry them off. “ instructs FBI criminal profiler Candice DeLong:“ go straight for his eyeballs with your fingers, jamming them into his head as hard as you—don’t be squeamish—with no letup.”

The eyes are extremely sensitive, and very fragile. You know how they sting when you get a grain of sand in them, and then everything stops until you can get it out? Well, if a finger or thumb is jammed straight into the eye at full force like profiler DeLong describes, the rapist’s agony would be so great that he wouldn’t see where you ran, or care.
While jamming with your forefinger is effective, the thumb works best for gouging the eye.

“Many people, women in particular, struggle with the idea of gouging eyes, but when your life is in danger, you need to defend yourself.” (David Kahn, krav maga instructor)

What’s gouging?  There are 3 steps.

One: grip his head (if it’s dark and you can’t see properly, scan the face for his tear duct). Push your thumb with full force into the eye socket.

Two: Drag your thumb in and across the eye.

Three: With the other hand you are pulling the back of his head towards your thumb, so he can’t move away.

Your goal now is to separate the eye from the head. With one of his eyes severely damaged you can repeat with the other eye.

Or – since he can no longer see, beat on that side of his head.

The ears.
It takes about 7 pounds of pressure to tear an ear off.

Grip the front of the attacker’s head and slide your fingers behind the ear.  Grip it tightly and pull the ear towards your body with full force, at the same time pushing his head away from you.

Try to tear the ear off. This will slow him down.

You can also clap both hands at the same time into both ears, causing pain and distortion to the attacker.
If you’re on the ground with him on top of you and your hands are pinned, you can bite the ear and try to pull it off that way.

The nose.
The nose is also very fragile. It can be easily broken with the right technique. The advantage to breaking his nose is that it will cause his eyes to water severely. If you’re upright you can you can break his nose with a well placed punch to the bridge of his nose. But you need to make the right fist, and aim forcefully, punching as if your real target is an area 5 inches further inside, near the back of his head. What’s the right fist?

Making a proper fist:
Begin with your fingers together as if you were pushing a door open. Curl the fingertips in and down at your knuckles so that your hand is only half closed. Then curl your fingers tightly into your palm, wrapping your thumb tightly across your first two digits. Your fist should feel like a rock, extremely powerful and rigid.

When you strike, lead with your foreknuckle and middle knuckle. Keep your fist in line with your arm and your target. Maintain your balance before you strike at 100% power. Strike and commit. You only have one chance.

The nose can also be effectively attacked with an elbow (but only if it’s in close range of the nose) or a knee (if the attacker is bent over). To attack with the knee,  cross your fingers behind his head and pull it closer, while you take a half step back. Then drive your knee into his nose.

The throat:
The throat is very sensitive, and with the proper force you can actually kill someone by breaking the larynx. Also the jugular veins can be constricted, causing your attacker to pass out.

Take a ‘knife hand’ strike: curl fingertips downwards as in the first step for making a fist. Tuck your thumb next to your forefinger and tighten. This should leave your middle knuckles as the point where you will connect. (You’ll do twice the damage if you also pull the assailant’s head into the attack)

Strike by leading your forefinger and middle finger straight into the throat of your assailant. Be forceful. Imagine you are aiming for five inches further in. Twist into your strike for more force and damage

Negotiating your way to freedom.

In the event you are ever abducted, it is an advantage to know who you’re dealing with.
Rape is typically not the offender’s first crime. Most rapists were teenage peeping toms and burglars. As forensic psychiatrist Dr Stanton Samenow recalls, “Every person I have ever interviewed who has been convicted of rape has committed other sorts of crimes. It may be property crimes. It may be non-sexual assaults. The issue is not only the sex crimes themselves, but the mind of this kind of person.”
Unfortunately, it is unlikely to be his first rape. Experts say that every rapist is a potential serial rapist. Those jailed after committing their first sex crime, are a tiny – in their own minds, unlucky- minority.
Rapists are driven by sex fantasies. They fantasize about controlling, and dominating a frightened woman. They read and watch bondage pornography. Forensic researchers who talked to rapists in prison revealed that their imaginations are fueled by ‘joyless thoughts of dominance’.
A rapist is ‘a person who seeks conquest of other people,’ says Dr Samenow. ‘Rape is an avenue for conquest.”
That’s why rather than pleading with him which is likely part of his fantasy, forensic psychologists advise you have a better chance of being released if  you humanize yourself.
A senior FBI detective likens rape to a hostage situation:
“I always tell police officers that if they find themselves in hostage situations, not to let the gunman get them facedown on the ground. In that posture, it is too easy for him to depersonalize you and then too easy put a bullet through the back of your head — much easier than pulling the trigger when you’re staring him in the eyes. By the same token, rape is a hostage situation of sorts.”

HUMANIZE YOURSELF:
Serial killer Ted Bundy described the kind of small talk he typically engaged in when he tried to attract a victim.. “Light and superficial”, he said. But once the girl was inside his vehicle, the chatting would stop. Bundy claimed he was mentally distancing himself from “the personal aspects of the encounter, the interchange.”
A sex predator doesn’t want to see his victim as a person because it will distract him from his fantasy.
“Your life gets in the way,” serial killer Edmund Kemper concurs. “I’m sorry to sound cold about this, but what I needed to have was a particular experience with a person, and to possess them in the way I wanted to.”
That’s why for a victim, it’s a good idea to try to establish some common ground.
Edmund Kemper felt compelled to let a hostage go when, after spying a bottle of pills on the front seat, the young woman commented that her father was on the same medication, and asked after Kemper’s health.
Ted Bundy released a kidnap victim go after she told him her five-year-old daughter was home alone. Bundy had a five-year-old stepdaughter at home.
You could talk about the people who are expecting you. You could talk about friends, family, co-workers. You could even talk about favorite TV shows. One rapist let a girl go when he discovered her enthusiasm for his favorite show “Airwolf”.
Just keep talking. Ted Bundy said he couldn’t kill a woman he had been talking to for more than 20 minutes because it ruined the fantasy when she became ‘real.’
If nothing works and violence is imminent, talk about the people who will come looking for you. My friend Lisa, forestalled a rapist by telling him that her father was a police captain who would make it his mission to hunt him down. The rapist, perhaps confused by her confidence as much as alarmed by the lie she told about her father, let her out of the car.

If the stalker is your ex.

It is important to cease all direct contact with the stalker. This is the No Contact rule as advised by psychologists specializing in these cases. Don’t respond to emails, letters or phone calls. Take precautions when you’re out, so you don’t come face to face with him. If he can’t intimidate you, which is what he wants, he may move on.
Never show him any emotion. Stalkers thrive on the fear or upset reactions of their victims.
Only meet him if it becomes essential and then only with professional third parties present: your lawyer, the police, a social worker.
Safeguard your computer.
Never discuss personal matters with him. Never negotiate, or attempt to reason with him or appease him. He will see these efforts as weakness. Don’t try to appeal to his conscience or empathy. He will see these appeals as evidence he is wearing you down.
Remember that any personal criticisms you make to his face are likely to backfire. They will be distorted to vindicate his delusions of persecution or entitlement and to fuel his fantasies of revenge.
Document everything: Keep a diary of what he says, and what he does. Record him on the answering machine.
If the stalker has started following you on the street or keeps showing up unannounced at your home or office. tell co-workers, neighbors, friends and family so they can be watchful on your behalf. It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes a village to stop a stalker.
Secure your home. You don’t want your stalker breaking in.
People don’t always behave compassionately, and sometimes they are quick to judge. When you are stalked or harassed you learn who your real friends are.Ignore personal criticisms, say the experts. His personality disorder is not your fault. The fact he has built a fantasy around controlling you is not your fault. He is the sick one. Stalking and harassment is a crime, so this man is engaging in criminal behavior.
A major reason police departments used to treat stalking cases lightly was because after filing charges against ex-partners, so many women would drop them. While this is understandable — the women were afraid, or they’d bought the line that their abuser had seen the error of his ways — it was counterproductive, because the abuse always intensified.
The personality disorder of a stalker does not just go away. These disorders are hardwired. They get worse as time goes by.
Because they see so many stalking cases, police departments know that it is likely to get worse, and so now they’re able to proceed with the charges even if the victim has changed her mind.

What’s a life sentence these days? Failure to rehabilitate.

Studies show that over 90% of sex predators fail to be rehabilitated. Why? Because the majority of them are psychopaths.

That’s crucial for understanding the failure of rehabilitation. You see, psychopaths do not see themselves as having a problem – on the contrary, they regard themselves as ‘top dogs’ – and they certainly do not wish to become ‘normal.’ Then they would just be ‘prey’ like the rest of us. That’s how a psychopath thinks. It’s a law of the jungle mentality.

Various studies which have evaluated serial rapists behind bars estimate that between 50% and 90% are psychopaths.. For serial killers, the figure is higher. 95% , it is said, are psychopaths. The other 5% are psychotics or schizophrenics who have lost touch with reality.

Which brings us to a dilemma. How can you rehabilitate a sex predator who sees himself as superior to the psychiatrists trying to treat him, and delights in playing mind games with them? You can’t. And that’s why many psychiatrists have started refusing psychopaths as patients. Therapy is useless, they say, when the patient is not interested in changing.

Despite the failure to rehabilitate sex predators in jail, in a majority of states, sex predators who received a life sentence can be out of jail in 6 or 7 years. Why? Because prisons are over populated to bursting point. That’s why a life sentence for a serial rapist doesn’t mean ‘life anymore. It means ten to 14 years, with good behavior in prison reducing a sentence by a third

The outcome is predictable, because we have seen it in the news, week after week: A sex offender commits an horrendous crime while on parole, another victim is raped, perhaps murdered, and on TV talking heads debate why on earth such a violent perpetrator was released in the first place. But nothing changes.

Jane Velez Mitchell in her TV show “Issues ” made a call to action in 2010. “There is a war against women in this country”, she declared. “We as a society have got to fight back. “

I think most reasonable people would agree with Velez Mitchell that it’s time to be proactive. So what can women and girls – the number one target- do to protect themselves against predatory violence?

Not surprisingly – since it’s their answer to every problem- . gun proponents believe we should all carry concealed guns. But law enforcement thinks differently, and warns that a gun or a knife can be used against the person carrying it.

I have a far safer, and better solution: we should all arm ourselves with information.

Women and girls in particular would do well to know how sex predators plan their rapes and abductions. You and I need to be able to recognize potentially dangerous situations rather than being victimized by them.. We deserve know the best course of action to take if we are under threat.

It’s not about learning self defense, which we won’t get to use if someone just bludgeons us over the back of the head. To protect ourselves against sexual violence, we need to see the world as it appears through the eyes of a predator.

Someone is bound to tell you – as I have been told- that seeing ourselves through the eyes of a potential rapist or kidnapper- will make women afraid for their safety. Wow! This attitude is patronizing. Newsflash: who thinks we’re not already afraid for our safety? It has been clear since we were girls that there are predatory males out there whom we should avoid. We just haven’t been told how.

As security expert Gavin de Becker has discovered, being in possession of life-saving information reduces the level of apprehension:

“Being afraid of others is actually the fear that we are unprepared to protect ourselves. Obviously we cannot change or eliminate all the dangerous people in the world; what we can change is our ability to deal with them.”

In my forthcoming book The Girls Guide to the Criminal Mind, we will learn from survivors, criminal experts and even predators themselves how to protect ourselves from violent individuals.

The fact is that predators study us as we go about our daily business, but we do not study them. That in itself places us at risk. Because if we don’t know the nature of our opponent, how are we going to defend ourselves.

The way to outwit a predator is by understanding how he thinks.