(CBS Charlotte) — When the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department released the most recent crime statistics for 2013, an increase in reported rapes was evident.
To date, there have been 131 reports of rape in Charlotte – an 18 percent increase from the previous year. While the report does indicate that 95 percent of these incidents were from a known attacker, it’s wise to become educated about what women can do to help prevent a rape from happening.
A rapist is an attacker who will look for an easy target, and strike as soon as the opportunity presents itself. He may be watching a woman from afar, and she may not even be aware that he is nearby.
Obviously, being in a public place with a friend or a group of friends reduces the likelihood that a rape will occur. However, a man could be singling out a female while she is with her friends, in the hopes that she will break away from her friends — creating an opportunity for the rapist to attack. For this reason, it helps to always have a friend nearby.
But, this is the real world and females shouldn’t be afraid to go places by themselves — but they should use caution, especially in parking garages and parking lots, as these are two places that rapists frequently target.
It is extremely important for women to always be aware of their surroundings, and to not appear distracted. Some women feel safer talking on the phone while they are walking alone, but this can backfire if the rapist perceives the woman as distracted. However, if a woman knows that they are being followed, and no one is around to hear her scream for help, pulling out a cellphone and dialing 9-1-1 may foil the possible attack, but it may also slow the woman down. Women need to know how to fend off a potential rapist on their own, because reporting a possible crime doesn’t always prevent the crime from occurring.
Here are some tips to help women prevent a rape from occurring:
1. Take a self-defense class. The instructor will teach you specific techniques that will enable you to potentially ward off a rapist.
2. Wearing your hair down makes you less susceptible to being raped. Often, rapists seek out woman who are wearing ponytails, as it is easier to grab.
3. If your gut tells you something is wrong, do not shrug this off. Humans have three natural instincts: fight, flight or freeze. Freezing will ensure that a rapist will rape you, That’s why it is essential to fight off an attacker if you can, or use your flight instinct to get away from a potential rapist as fast as you can.
4. If you feel like you are in danger, and there are other people nearby, scream, yell and make noise. Do what ever it takes to draw attention to yourself and the situation.
5. Carry pepper spray on your keychain and use it if you fear an attack is imminent.
6. Do not wear footwear or attire that makes it nearly impossible to run if needed. But, if you are wearing heels, use them as a weapon and kick your attacker repeatedly, as hard as possible.
- Nichole Jaworski, CBS Charlotte