I don’t know for sure whether it was going to happen or not, but I think I might have saved myself from rape once. I was at the train station and I hailed a cab. I noticed the guy chose an unusual but still legitimate route. “Maybe he’s trying to avoid traffic”, I told myself. Then he pulled over and stopped the car in a secluded area with no warning and no one within earshot. I turned my head to face him. He offered me a cigarette and asked me what I thought about anal sex.
I’m sure you can imagine I wasn’t feeling too comfortable or safe. I was 14 years old. I absentmindedly took the cigarette and lit it while trying to figure out whether the doors were locked, which way I was supposed to run, where my phone was, was there anything I could use as a weapon, etc. And then my mind supplied a useful piece of trivia: “In many cases, the victim’s fear, pain and struggling is what turns them on.” It was from an article on rapists I had read months or years prior. I supposed it was worth a shot – if he was gonna try something, he was gonna try it either way.
So I forced my body into a position of pure confidence and comfort. I swallowed, took a deep breath, made sure my voice sounded low, calm and somewhat bored. I faced him fully, looked him right in the eye. He was expecting an answer. I was so scared, I felt like I might pass out or throw up.
“Never quite saw the appeal. Looks rather painful too. I’m definitely not up for it. Boyfriend keeps pestering me. What is it with dudes and anal?”
Mentioning a boyfriend and staying on topic were both intentional. The boyfriend part was in case he was trying to flirt in a very misguided way with a minor. I stayed on topic to show I was not intimidated and viewed myself as mature, smart and I guess confident enough (read: his equal) to calmly discuss such a thing with a stranger. The tension was greatly lessened. I don’t remember his reply, but I remember finishing my cigarette, thanking him for the conversation and asking him to drive me home. Which he did like nothing happened.
EDIT: Another useful thing: if you’re walking alone, it’s dark and you’re passing through some sketchy places or are just anxious, there’s a trick you can do. I’ve been doing it since I was a young teen and, while I can’t claim it’s the sole reason, nobody has ever so much as looked at me on the street at night. Here’s what you do:
1. Shoulders back, chin up, don’t keep your hands in your pockets unless you’re trying to hide a weapon.
2. Walk briskly and with purpose, like you’re angry and about to fight someone you know you’re going to beat.
3. Don’t look around like your expecting someone to jump at you – you’re either creating unnecessary paranoia for yourself OR you’re showing a clear sign of weakness to whoever might actually be preparing for attack, plus you’re wasting time you could use for self protection or running. If you do need to look around, do it matter-of-factly. Otherwise, just look straight ahead.
4. If there was ever a time to look like the ultimate Alpha female, I guess this would be it. Don’t look cartoony and overly aggressive though. You should try to look confident, strong, dominant, capable and like you know where you’re going while still minding your own business and not looking to start trouble.
5. Pay attention to your surroundings, don’t listen to music.
6. Remember not everyone’s out to get you. Some people are trying to get from A to B just like you.
7. This whole thing should serve two purposes:
– Help you deal with the anxiety. I know it can be rather scary to walk alone in the dark sometimes, especially if you don’t live in the safest of areas.
– Invite potential attackers to reconsider. Your ultimate goal is to look like you can cause far more trouble than attacking you in any way is worth. There’s a similar tactic to use when attacked by wild animals – raise your hands to make yourself look bigger, roar as best as you can to seem scarier. It’s supposed to make the animal think you’re too much work and leave you alone. I’ve noticed people attack and torment others when it’s easy and has no negative consequences for them. Make yourself look like robbing/raping/kidnapping you is going to be both extremely hard and very dangerous.