Tactical Sexual Assault Prevention (part two)

This post will seek to help people better their chances of avoiding sexual assault. This is a pretty heavy matter for a Killer J blog, but since I’m in the field I figure I can weigh in from time to time. Part one of this series discussed some of society’s misguided attempts at preventing sexual assault.

I work primarily with sexual assault perpetrators. A part of my job is helping the perpetrator develop insight in to why they did what they did. My years of experience have given me a perspective on sexual assault that seems to clash with a lot of what is considered to be “common knowledge” regarding sexual assault.

not my image

not my image

Most rape prevention classes prepare women to deal with the ogre lurking in the bushes with a roll of duct tape in hand. You know, the type that jumps from the bushes on unsuspecting woman joggers. The class will teach a woman to scream, yell, kick, punch, and run. For this type of sexual assault, this is probably the best method for dealing with it. The problem is these types of assaults are a small percentage of what actually occurs. Women end up getting trained for a rare situation.

Typically, a sexual assault occurs when a woman finds herself in a situation in which the perpetrator has manipulated, bribed, coerced, blackmailed, or pressured her in to a horrible situation. Through the perpetrator’s manipulative tactics, the woman feels like she can’t back out. While not consenting, but also not physically fighting back, the woman ends up going through the movements while dreading every moment of it.

Part three of this blog will wrap up by providing an inside look at the mind of the perpetrator in these types of situations. A person that commits a sexual assault must go through four barriers. They must first, have the motivation to sexually assault somebody. Then, they must overcome their own internal barriers (conscience). Third, they must overcome external barriers (avoid getting caught), and then finally, they must overcome the victim’s resistance. Part three will break this down in to more detail, hopefully providing insight in to the mind of the perpetrator, enabling women to be more prepared to deal with a dicey situation and avoid being victimized.

Tactical Sexual Assault Prevention (Part one)

“Rape Culture” is a term used to describe the victim blaming attitudes, perpetrator excusing values, and media-driven undertones prevalent in our culture. Very often, the rape culture mentality is unintentional, subliminal, and covert, thereby making it even more harmful since it isn’t easily recognizable. For instance, an article came out in Ensign (LDS magazine) prompting women to dress modestly. One particular statement in the article really fired up a lot of people from around the nation. It reads:
“the dress of women has a powerful impact on the minds and passions of men, if it’s too low, too high, too tight it might prompt improper thoughts in the mind of a young man striving to be pure.”
woman in skirt

If the statement seems innocent to you, then consider what it is implying. That statement essentially implies women are in charge of a man’s sexuality, i.e. if a woman wears a short skirt and gets raped, then, well… she probably should have worn jeans and it wouldn’t have happened. The subtlety of the statement is, in fact, a blame shift for sexual assault. The victim gets blamed, rather than the “sexually hypnotized” perpetrator.

Certainly, the person writing the article didn’t intend for this to be the message. In fact, it truly pains me to say this, but women dressing more modestly probably isn’t a bad idea. Here’s the thing: An attractive woman wearing a short skirt is going to draw attention from a man, but with that said, implying a short skirt overrides a man’s cognitive capacity to avoid ravaging a woman without her consent is both dangerous for women and insulting to men.

My friend Matt satirically responded to my buddy Justin’s Facebook post on this exact issue, stating:

Is that all men are? Mindless sex drones, savagely attacking women who might wear skimpy clothes? What about women’s plight in all this? Is it healthy for women to be taught they bring it on themselves by the way they dress? But on the opposite end, should woman be taught they really can’t do much to prevent sexual assault?

Part two of Tactical Sexual Assault Prevention will focus on what is happening inside the mind of a perpetrator of sexual abuse. Part two will argue it is ineffective to tell women how to dress as a means for warding off sexual assault, and is similarly ineffective to tell a woman there isn’t much she can do to prevent rape.

The concept of informing women there are some things they can do to prevent unwanted sexual encounters is controversial because a lot of my colleagues believe that any approach designed to teach people strategies to avoid rape comes across as “rape culture, victim blaming propaganda.”

I think I have the foundation for an effective approach, which I will outline in Part II.