April is Sexual Assault and Awareness Month
In the spirit of spreading the word, this blog talks about the signs of dangerous men and why we should avoid them. We let them into our lives, and they turn out to be predators. You will find them at home, at work, at school and college, the military, and in the streets, but the ones we have to watch out for the most are in our home.
How do you know what a person is capable of before it is too late?
As in most interviews with sexual assault victims, the dialogue, the violation of privacy, and the demeanor of the victim are excruciating. For anyone who has a cavalier attitude about predation, he need only to watch its influence on the victims in order to change his attitude. They cannot scrub the stain out of their skin. Over and over again, the assault flickers like a sad-porn film on a screen inside their heads, sometimes for months, sometimes years.
It does not matter whether you were raped once as an adult, or assaulted many times as a child, you just cannot seem to wash that stain away, no matter how many showers you take.
You will be going along, having a good day, when suddenly from out of nowhere, comes the feeling of your stomach hitting the floor. “Where did that come from?” you wonder. Sometimes you know, sometimes you don’t.
Forgetting the past is not possible for someone who has been sexually assaulted. Slap me, beat me, call me names; I can get over those. Sexually abuse me, you take a part of me away – and leave an emptiness that can never be filled.
For both men and women who are raped, men are the most frequent perpetrators. You rarely hear of a woman raping a man. You sometimes hear of women molesting children – mostly teenaged boys, but a woman rapist is rare. And because of that, I will be using “he” throughout this blog to refer to the predator.
DO THESE THINGS AND YOU WILL STAY SAFE
(Taken from a Woman’s Self-Defense Manual from 1990)
- Don’t go out without clothes: That encourages some men
- Don’t go out with clothes: Any clothes encourage some men
- Don’t go out alone at night: That encourages men
- Don’t go out alone at any time: Any situation encourages some men
- Don’t go out with a female friend: Some men are encouraged by numbers
- Don’t go out with a male friend: Some male friends are capable of rape
- Don’t stay at home: Intruders and relatives can both rape
- Avoid childhood: Some rapists are “turned on” by little girls
- Avoid old age: Some rapists “prefer” aged women
- Don’t have a father, grandfather, uncle or brother: These are the relatives who often rape young women
- Don’t have neighbors: These often rape women
- Don’t marry: Rape is legal within marriage (today this is illegal in all 50 states)
TO BE QUITE SURE – DON’T EXIST!
While this was written as tongue-in-cheek, there is a ring of truth to it. But myths, sarcasm, and downplaying the situation does not keep us safe. Sadly, many people still believe the victim is responsible for the attack, just because of the above. “She must have asked for it.”
Then there is the doubt as to whether the act really happened unless there is gross physical evidence. Even that can be explained away. Too often it becomes a “he said/she said” scenario and no one knows who to believe. These guys are slick and have their demeanor and their stories straightened out and rehearsed.
Things to consider when going about your day
- Hairstyle. Hair in a ponytail is easiest to grab onto.
- Clothing. They like skimpy clothing only because it is easier to rip off.
- Distractions. You are immersed in your cell phone, you have earbuds and are listening to music. You are unaware of who is approaching you.
- Locations. Grocery store parking lots, office parking lots/garages, public restrooms.
- Easy to grab. Stay away from parked vans or vehicles that have a lone male driver.
This is all well and good when you are out and about. But we keep on the lookout for suspicious strangers when the threat is much closer to home. Too many times in our home.
the threat in our homes
80% of perpetrators are a parent
6% are other relatives
5% are “other” (from siblings to strangers)
4% are unmarried partners of a parent
The younger the child at the time of the abuse, the more likely s/he is to have problems later in life. Victim behaviors begin at the time of the trauma, and if the trauma is not processed, these behaviors become a part of the personality. Shame and fear rule the child’s world. And these feelings continue through their life with symptoms of depression, drug and alcohol abuse, and PTSD.
predator behavior is a way of thinking
Unfortunately, the behavior of a sexual predator is wrapped up in his thinking, and this is what makes him a danger to others.
Whether a family member, a co-worker, a boss or someone in a superior position, there is a particular thinking pattern that causes this behavior.
Stanton Samenow, Ph.D. outlines this thinking process for us. Because of their charming personalities, it is difficult to pick up on them, but these tips might help:
four common traits of a sexual predator
Power and control. His goal is to dominate. He is the one in charge and perhaps a little pushy about it. He seldom takes no for an answer and has a tendency to get upset if you challenge him or his ideas.
Unique. He is irresistible. He makes his presences known. Again, he will not take no for an answer and is pushy about making up his own rules. He expects you to follow along. After all, he is your savior, is he not?
Deceptive. Get over it. Everything he tells you is a lie. Don’t believe me? Just give it time. True colors eventually come out. He is intelligent, talented and charismatic, and uses these traits to manipulate people, including you. Charisma – the ability to capture a room full of people with his charm.
Consequences. He doesn’t care about the consequences. Sexual predation is a game to him. He knows the difference between right and wrong, so this is not a morality issue. It is about power and control. As long as he gets away with what he does, who is in control? And when he does get caught he turns into a victim. “She enticed me, I just couldn’t help myself.”
protecting yourself and your family
How do you stay safe from someone like this?
They are likable, charming, the laugh of the party. You are lucky to have someone like this in your life, aren’t you? Well, you might not feel so lucky after they get their hooks into you.
The world is full of crazy people and to find someone that is kind and helpful feels like a godsend. You are having problems, and finally, here is someone who cares enough to listen and understand.
It doesn’t matter how educated you are, or what kind of job you have, women fall all the time for the charmer. Didn’t you have a Prince Charming when you were growing up? We are conditioned to fall for the nice guy.
Sad but true, it is these nice guys you have to be wary of. Especially if he is there to pick you up, to make you feel worthwhile. They like people who are down in the dumps. Too absorbed with your own problems and the relief that someone is listening to you, you don’t see the underbelly of the snake.
The world is not safe, which means you have to have your trust-radar on at all times. The one thing that will keep you safe is your instinct. Your gut feeling. If you feel there is something wrong with this person, go with your gut.
It is better to be judicious when first meeting someone than to let a predator into your life.
This means you have to be careful who you pick as a mate. If you bring your boyfriend home and you do not know him very well, you could be placing your family at great risk.
Be careful who you bring into your house. You ask them in for a friendly drink and they never leave. Our homes are the only safe haven we have. Protect it.
When someone who knows you well tells you this guy is a jerk, listen to them. Your mom is not being mean or controlling. She is concerned. Trust her. She’s lived longer than you. She knows what she’s talking about.
Your friends know you and love you. They can see what he’s doing to you. Listen to them.
Too many daughters have brought abusive men into families – the families try their best to accept him, but in the end, the daughters bring trouble.
And so the cycle continues.
prevention and awareness
- The best way to prevent this from happening to you, obviously, is to keep these kinds of people out of your life! But as we have determined, the most dangerous men are the ones we are most attracted to. Charismatic and helpful – at first.
- A self-defense class will teach you awareness, but any physical techniques you learn can easily be used against you. He is strong and overpowering – and smart.
- Never underestimate your attacker. You do not know what they know.
- Teach your children assertiveness skills. Learn assertiveness skills yourself so the next time someone tries to flummox you, you are ready for them.
- Listen to your child. Children are open-minded and honest when evaluating people. If they don’t like the guy, trust their judgment. If they are being molested, they will be too scared to come out and tell you. Chances are they have been threatened with harm if they “tell mommy.”
- Listen to your instincts. If you cannot recognize bad people, then this is something you need to work on. You can usually tell if you like someone or not within the first 30 seconds of meeting them, but we ignore those signs.
- Beware of the nice guy. There are truly nice guys in this world, but they are honest and straightforward. The “nice guy” who rapes you or your daughter turns out to be not so nice after all.
- Be careful who you bring into your home. Once you have invited someone in, you are willing to share a part of your life. Be sure you invite only people you trust.
In a nutshell
Sexual predators look for your weaknesses and move in when your guard is lowest. They sense your distress and feed on it. Once they come into your life, they are hard to get out.
It is not healthy to limit your activities because you are afraid. It is better to learn people skills and how to deal with and/or avoid people that take up your space.
Be wary of Mr. Nice Guy, the stranger who comes into your life and seems like a godsend. Maybe he is, but probably he is not.