How to Avoid Rape | Letters | Chicago Reader

How to Avoid Rape 

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To the editors:

Harold Henderson, in the City File [November 27], referred to my research on women who avoided rape when attacked, quoting from Today's Chicago Woman. I would like to correct some of the misinformation in that paragraph.

There are many studies comparing women who avoided rape with those who were raped although ours is the best known and the only one to be a book, Stopping Rape: Successful Survival Strategies, Pauline B. Bart and Patricia O'Brien, Pergamon Press. Knowledge of what to do in case of a broiler fire is not an infallible indication of rape avoidance. Rather, it is one of many background factors associated with rape avoidance, such as knowledge of first aid and self-defense. All the women, with the exception of a few who froze, resisted rape. The book tells which forms of resistance were successful in stopping the assault, namely, physical resistance, yelling, and fleeing or trying to flee. The more different kinds of strategies the woman used, the more likely she was to avoid the rape. Furthermore, women who avoided rape were more likely to focus on not being raped, while, understandably, women who were raped were more likely to focus on not being killed or mutilated.

Thank you for printing these corrections. Would that avoiding rape were so simple as the article makes out.

Pauline B. Bart, PhD

University of Illinois at Chicago

Patricia H. O'Brien

Saint Xavier College and the University of Illinois at Chicago

Harold Henderson replies:

I'm sorry about the inaccuracy. I should have realized that any newspaper using distribution boxes painted hot pink is likely to varnish its facts as well.


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