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Through a rapist’s eyes

Newsletter, Metropolitan Police, Oct 2004 – ‘Through A Rapist’s Eyes’

In this newsletter, a group of rapists and date rapists in prison were interviewed about what they look for in a potential victim.  Here are some interesting facts derived from the interviews.

  1. The first thing men look for in a potential rape victim is her hairstyle. They are more likely to go after a woman with a ponytail or similar hairstyle that can easily be grabbed. Women with short hair are not often targets.
  2. The second thing men look for is the type of clothing the victim is wearing. They prefer to attack a woman whose clothing is easy to remove quickly. Often they will carry scissors in order to cut clothing away.
  3. A woman talking on a mobile phone, looking through her handbag or doing some other activity whilst walking also makes her a victim because she is off guard and can easily be overpowered while distracted.
  4. The time of day that men are most likely to attack is the early morning between 5.00am and 8.30am.
  5. A rapist will have planned his attack.  Most rapists are looking to grab a woman quickly and move her to a second, more secluded, location where they are less likely to be caught.
  6. Only 2% of rapists said they carried a weapon because rape carried a 3-5 year sentence, but rape with a weapon carries a 15-20 year sentence.
  7. If you put up any kind of a fight they will get discouraged because it only takes a minute or two for them to realise that you will not be an easy victim. If going after you is too time consuming, they risk being caught.
  8. These men said they would not pick on women with umbrellas or other similar objects that can be used from a distance to fend off an attacker. Keys are not a deterrent because you have to get really close to an attacker to use them as a weapon.
  9. There are things you can do that will put an attacker off selecting you. The one thing your attacker doesn’t want is to get caught. So if you find you are being followed, or you are in a lift or car park and you feel uneasy about the person you are with, look him straight in the face and ask them a question like ‘What time is it?’, or make some general small talk. Once you’ve seen their face you could identify them in a line up and you lose your appeal as a target.
  10. If someone is coming towards you, hold out your hands in front of you and yell “STOP” or “STAY BACK”. Most rapists said they’d leave a woman alone if she yelled or showed that she would not be afraid to fight back. Such men are looking for an easy target – don’t let that be you!

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