What does this mean for the rape victim?
In a phrase it means you must never let your guard down. Women and girls must be vigilant about protecting themselves from would-be predators. In my own case I invited my attacker into my parent’s home on that fateful day. I was completely unsuspecting that this so called friend was about to turn on me, and so it is with these 70% of victims that you refer to. I was naïve and trusting, so I never picked up on gestures and comments that could have served as warnings that he was not as trustworthy as I had considered him to be. This familiarity factor means that such rapes have some common characteristics:
- There is the surprise element. The victim does not feel unsafe and is comfortable being in close proximity with the attacker because this has been part of their normal behaviour pattern in the past. They see no reason to be cautious or afraid.
- Secondly there is the threat factor. The perpetrator knows what he has done is wrong. He could suffer serious consequences for the crime he has committed so he uses threats of further violence to control his victim.
Is this unique to rape victims?
No, I don’t think so. I know from listening to news reports that people who have been attacked and robbed in their own homes have often been attacked by someone they were familiar with or at least knew in a casual way. Like me, sometimes they have actually opened the door to the intruder and allowed them inside because they felt no sense of threat. After all, this person is not a stranger; it may be someone they have known for years.
How does this compare to other violent acts?
Any violent act is going to be an extremely terrifying experience. However, I would think that if you actually know the person who has attacked you it has a double impact:
a.) You have experienced a criminal act of violence directed toward you.
b.) Someone you trusted has just betrayed that trust.