Bookdragon Asks…

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Patrick

Patrick is a mid-40 year old geek with an undergraduate degree in mathematics and a master's degree in Information Systems. Nothing he says here has anything to do with the official position of his employer or any other institution.

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48 Responses

  1. Avatar Mike Dwyer
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    says:

    As I’ve written about, my oldest is a freshman in college and living on campus. The school is not in the best area of Louisville and once off campus, it’s not the kind of place I want my kid wandering around in after dark. Situational awareness is also what I stress to her constantly. I tell her to plan her routes carefully to include well-lit areas. I told her she should know where all of the dorm lobbies are because there is always an RA on-duty there. She tries to always walk with at least one friend, or better, a large group of guys/girls after dark. She has her pepper spray. She throws some great elbows and knees. She knows where the emergency phones are and knows she can call campus security (or dad) for a ride.

    …and of course I still worry about her every night.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Mike Dwyer
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      says:

      Mike, I suspect you’re a wonderful father, and your daughter’s lucky to have you in her life.

      But there’s something really jarring here: men as protectors, telling their daughters how to avoid sexual predators seems a role that you’ve thought on, worried on. But as friends of other men, some of them with at least a propensity to be a sexual predator, there’s an awful lot of silence.

      She should be free to walk her block at 9:00 p.m.; even at 1:00 a.m. This is a very basic right. She doesn’t have it. But aren’t we still discussing sexual assault as a women’s problem; not a behavior that men have the power to address.Report

      • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to zic
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        says:

        She should be free to walk her block at 9:00 p.m.; even at 1:00 a.m. This is a very basic right.

        I honestly don’t think this is a problem with a readily accessible solution. I don’t say this because I want to throw up my hands and walk away from it, I just think it’s the sort of pernicious problem that will take generations to grind away.

        But there’s something really jarring here: men as protectors, telling their daughters how to avoid sexual predators seems a role that you’ve thought on, worried on. But as friends of other men, some of them with at least a propensity to be a sexual predator, there’s an awful lot of silence.

        In my particular case, I’m not friends with very many people precisely because I don’t grant trust readily. I’ve never become even close associate to anyone that I thought had the potential to be a sexual predator.

        Now, granted, this is quite probably a huge observational problem on my part, as it’s pretty clear that there are enough sexual predation events going on that some people I know are perpetrators. But know != friends.

        Part of the problem is that I can’t imagine having a real discussion about something like this. If I think someone is just acting skeevy, I’m going to separate the skeevy guy from the girl, but it’s hard to jump to the conclusion that “skeevy”=”potential predatory behavior”. I’d call the skeevy guy out for it, sure, but this isn’t a behavior that is going to be much affected by conversation, I’d guess.

        On the other hand, if I see someone acting in a way that I think represents an actual predator, I’m probably going to have to choose between the potential for violence or not. I’m not sure I’m good at this judgment.Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to zic
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        says:

        Zic,

        It’s not just sexual predators and it’s not just with girls. My grandfather was a cop of 40 years. I got similar lectures from him regarding personal safety. And in my late teens, after my brother and I both got in fights the other guy started within about 6 months of each other, my dad also gave us some advice about how to take care of ourselves. It’s just a rough world out there.

        I should also mention that the first self-defense lesson I ever gave my daughter was wih how to deal with a female bully at school, which was a recurring problem during high school. She always told me the guys at her school were harmless and it was the girls that scared her.Report

        • Avatar Kim in reply to Mike Dwyer
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          says:

          Girls can be much more vicious than guys. Guys tend to slam each other around, sure, but it tends to be mostly about pecking orders (or impressing girls). Girls tend to go for the heart.

          … Mike,did your grandfather give you advice on how to deal with rapists?Report

      • Avatar bookdragon in reply to zic
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        says:

        The issue is two-pronged, I think.

        1. When a man hears another discussing women, even ‘jokingly’, as though they are prey of some sort he can either ignore it or challenge it. I think if more men considered the fact that their decision in that situation will affect – even in a small way – the culture that their sisters, wives, daughters, etc. have to live in, they might be more inclined to make the challenge and nudge the dial in the right direction.

        That has to happen or women continue to live in a world where sexual assault and other forms of sexual exploitation are the norm rather than a horrifying aberration.

        2. Even men have to worry about 1 am, and sometimes 9 pm depending on where they walk. I recall a friend warning her daughter not to be in a certain part of Philly after dark. The daughter had just come back from Iraq and replied, ‘Mom, I’m a Marine. I think I can handle it.’

        An older guy in the group shook his head and explained. ‘Rachel, I was a Marine. I got 3 Purple Hearts in ‘Nam. I wouldn’t go in that part of the city even before dark.’Report

        • Avatar Kim in reply to bookdragon
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          says:

          Philly is a bad part of town (BosWash). 😉 Not as bad as DC used to be… but… really bad.Report

        • Avatar zic in reply to bookdragon
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          says:

          Whole-hearted yes to #1. As Mike put it in the other thread, you don’t want to be that guy; it get’s lonely. Yet making the guy who talks of women as prey lonely is the goal.Report

          • Avatar Kim in reply to zic
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            says:

            Doesn’t stop pigs. And rats tend to be desperate enough to not care
            (and be fairly quiet about their predation).

            It is a net good to isolate the predators. It won’t stop them, but it will stop the more puppyish guys from “having fun” like that.Report

            • Avatar zic in reply to Kim
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              says:

              I suspect it might stop some would-be predators from going that taking that final step; particularly if there’s more social status lost from preying then earned from getting lucky.

              In that sense, this helps our daughters. But it also helps our sons.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to zic
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                says:

                sadly, I don’t think that’s likely. Instincts can be pretty fucking powerful… Morality can stop people — fear of punishment can stop people. But by the time you’re the 20 year old man preying on 16 year olds, I think we’ve already said “you is sleeze.” In fact, I think that’s a pretty strong, culturally ingrained belief.Report

            • Avatar bookdragon in reply to Kim
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              says:

              Atmosphere counts for a lot. If the culture and the male role models say ‘This is not how a man behaves’ that goes a long way toward making the behavior unthinkable.

              If the attitude was that having to use force or tricks called your manhood into question, rather than what we have now where ‘# nailed’ is the operative definition, things would be different.

              Granted, some perverts wouldn’t be affected. There are still cannibals despite all the taboos against it, but they are very, very rare in our society.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Mike Dwyer
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      says:

      1) Walk quickly. Don’t EVER look lost — look certain, even if it means having to circle the block three times before you find your apartment.
      2) The danger zone isn’t (often) dark residential streets. It’s places people can be expected to go… at the edges of the party, parking lots.
      3) If you see someone in a danger zone — head for the lights and music.
      4) Beware of ambush points. Plenty of good lit places where someoen can haul you into a dark alley in three seconds flat.Report

  2. Avatar Patrick Cahalan
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    says:

    When I was dating in college, at one point my girlfriend was driving me back to my apartment when suddenly a woman ran out in the middle of the street, screaming and waving her arms, while some guy was about 40 yards behind her.

    We threw open the door, grabbed her and hauled her inside, and took off to my place, were we called the cops.

    The officer said that she’d been smart to run out and hail the car, and that he’d seen lots of cases where people who had been assaulted (not just sexually, but generally) had failed to notice ways that they could have gotten help.

    Don’t just yell for help, people don’t hear it, or they think it’s someone’s television set or something. If you’re running down a residential street, being chased, pick up a rock and throw it through somebody’s window. That will bring somebody outside, you bet.

    You can always pay for a busted window, later.Report

  3. Avatar Kim
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    says:

    Parents pretty much need to set up some expectations about how dependable they’re going to be for their kids — in terms of being a listening ear, rather than a judging PARENT.

    That, and, it’s culturally really uncomfortable to talk with parents about certain things…
    But I think kids really ought to do it — if not actual physical descriptions, at least “this was how I felt.”

    Parents ought to hear about their kids’ first drink, first sexual experience, first time out after curfew, first time sneaking out for a date.Report

    • Avatar Remo in reply to Kim
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      says:

      Being culturally unconfortable to tell something to your parents is awful. Usually also means that your parents are quick in passing judgement and reproaching what you did. To the point that it becomes easier to not tell them.

      You should never let it come to that. Hear about your kid first drink. Hear about his/her first sexual experience. It will be hard, but don’t judge and don’t reproach him/her.

      Your kid comes home drunk as hell? Give him a shower, put him into bed. Next day, make him clean the mess he made, tell him you would rather he did not get that drunk, and FORGET ABOUT IT. If you keep bringing it up, it just raises the odd that next time he does something stupid he will try to hide it instead of telling you.Report

  4. Avatar Kim
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    says:

    Women go to the bathroom together.
    They go to parties together — and leave together,
    unless they’re able to coherently pass enough
    tests that their friends are willing to let them go.

    These are basic rules to help defend against predators.
    (and guys who make fun of them are being real shits).Report

  5. Avatar bookdragon
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    says:

    First, thank you for putting this here.

    My husband worries, but doesn’t feel comfortable addressing these issues with our daughter, so it falls to me. (He gets our son in a few years, although I’ll have my say there since DS is in karate with me and will be ‘encouraged’ to volunteer to help with the rape prevention classes once he’s a teen).

    My mind snaps to situational awareness as well, but I literally can’t help it. I’m not sure I want that for my daughter, or anyone’s. Living like you’re in a war zone all the time isn’t healthy either.

    On the other hand, both kids have gotten the lecture about things to avoid/people not to trust/what to do if a guy asks you to ‘help find his lost puppy’, etc. since they were old enough to be old out of a stroller at the park.

    I want there to be a balance. And I want – more than anything else – for society to change enough that when a guy tries to force his presence on my daughter (whether violently or with the sort of stalking, creeper ‘You look pretty, so obviously you should want my attention’ thing) most people will stand with her and stand up for her instead of looking the other way. Or worse yet, making her feel like somehow it’s all her fault.Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to bookdragon
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      says:

      My mind snaps to situational awareness as well, but I literally can’t help it. I’m not sure I want that for my daughter, or anyone’s. Living like you’re in a war zone all the time isn’t healthy either.

      I have a weird brain, so it’s hard for me to say that it’s better or worse than not having my weird brain because I don’t have a frame of reference to judge.

      But there’s a difference between being aware of exceptions and being afraid of them. It’s a very hard distinction to learn, if you don’t come to it naturally, but “That is potentially dangerous” isn’t the same thing as “That is something I should fear”.

      The way to teach that one is to introduce your children to dangerous things that aren’t things to fear, provided you treat them with the proper respect, I guess.

      And I want – more than anything else – for society to change enough that when a guy tries to force his presence on my daughter… most people will stand with her and stand up for her instead of looking the other way. Or worse yet, making her feel like somehow it’s all her fault.

      I’ve given up on changing society. But you can help shape the local tribe, to some extent, and that’s the part that will help the most. Helping your children learn the drawbacks of their friendships, knowing how to find and cultivate good, strong, supportive members of their own tribal group.

      I say this thinking I can accomplish this with zero grounds for confidence since my children are not yet of an age where they’re selecting dubious jerkoffs as confidants, so I might find out five years from now this is impossible, but that’s my current strategy.Report

      • Avatar bookdragon in reply to Patrick Cahalan
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        says:

        I wouldn’t say I’m necessarily afraid so much as hyper-aware. It’s not exactly PTSD, but if you come of age with pictures of women raped and tortured playing on the local news, it tends to leave an imprint.

        I leave a building heading for the parking lot and my key is in my hand, held in a way that would make it a weapon. My purse (if I’m carrying one – I rarely do) is ready to drop into my other hand to be swung as a bludgeon or the strap used to lash or garote. I often justify working for DoD to my lefty friends by pointing out that I’ve spent a lot of time and effort making sure I could kill an attacker if I had to, so I have few qualms about helping my country do the same.

        In terms of dangerous vs. fear, both my kids have trained with weapons (daughter, archery and fencing; son, bo staff and tsai), so in that context they understand dangerous/should be respected vs. scary. We foster homeless dogs and they’ve learned to be cautious about new and unknown animals, but not afraid. I’m not sure how well that will translate though.

        I doubt a parent can pick their children’s tribes. I ran with geeks, mostly harmless oddballs, and stayed ridiculously straight through my teen years. My sister, only a few years younger, raised in the same house by the same parents, went with the wild crowd and only got some sense after she nearly got thrown thru her then-boyfriend’s car’s window because he was DUI and the sort of jerk who felt insulted if she wore a seat belt.

        I’m sort of hoping that my grandmother’s phrase, If you’re going to be stupid, at least be smart about it, takes root somewhere in their consciousness.Report

        • Avatar Kim in reply to bookdragon
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          says:

          One thing that I worry about with martial artists — that they aren’t really trained to handle pain well. It takes a particular sort of person to be in agony, and still make competent decisions.

          I have seen someone slit their big toe open to perform surgery on it (removing a shard of toenail, and letting the resultant wound drain).Report

          • Avatar bookdragon in reply to Kim
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            says:

            Trust me, at a certain level you learn to take a hit and channel pain into response. If someone grabs me from behind, he’ll probably be damaged. If he inflicts pain in the process, he probably won’t be able to walk away – or walk period.

            It’s not a matter of making competent decisions. It’s a matter of training your body to respond without thinking. Most real fights happen very fast. There’s no time for planning. That’s why so many Eastern styles emphasis ‘no-mind’ fighting. It’s also why, in a real situation, most people fight at rough two belts below they rank they hold – your body knows the older material better because you’ve practiced it longer.

            I saw that when I started karate to be in my son’s club two years ago. When we’d do 10-man drills (walk down a line of five people on each side with each pair attacking as you pass them), things I’d learned in judo 15 years ago just came out. Often without me being consciously aware of my response until the ‘attacker’ was on the floor looking stunned (karate doesn’t feature many throws). Since we only advanced beginners at that point, the sensei slowed the drill – he didn’t want me to toss someone who hadn’t yet mastered how to take a fall.Report

            • Avatar Kim in reply to bookdragon
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              says:

              …. yeah, I kinda know all about “responding without thinking” — as I’ve almost gotten myself slammed into the floor by taking someone unawares.

              A friend of mine was taught that if you ever see someone sticking their tongue out, pop ’em one in the chin. Doing that on the basketball court gets you detention, apparently. 😉

              I haven’t had nearly enough training to have any of it be innate.Report

  6. Avatar Remo
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    says:

    “The friends aren’t around. The cell phone battery is dead. It’s late. You’re out when you’re not supposed to be, so you’re reluctant to call for a ride. You’ve been drinking, so you’re reluctant to call for a ride. That will be the number one operational principle: you can always call for a ride.”

    This.

    She must trust you. Over whatever. It should always be preferable to call for a ride home, even when you are so drunk you had to be taken to the hospital, than otherwise.

    My wife’s parents did the best they could to teach this to their kids, and they mostly succeded in doing so. I know of a history of her brother, where he got so awfully drugged that he had cardiac problems. All the way his friends were driving him to the hospital, he was telling them ‘call my dad’ ‘call my dad’ ‘tell him where you are taking me’

    The one that needs to be taught the biggest lesson here is YOU, not your daughter. If your daughter has a problem – whatever that problem may be – the most important thing must be for you to solve the damned problem, and not to reproach your daughter for getting into it.

    She will make mistakes, have no doubt about it. The biggest question is: will you make yourself useful to her enough that she will trust to tell you those problems, or will you be so much pain in the ass to deal with when she has a problem that she will choose to keep it hidden from you, just so she doesn’t have to deal with your nagging?

    My relation with my parents is very clear. I deceived them for 6 years that i had dropped from college because i thought i would suffer less by hiding that fact than by saying anything.

    The best way to avoid having your kids in this situation is if they know that telling you something will make you help them go through it, instead of adding more suffering to what they are already going through.

    Sorry for derailing. It has less to do with making your kids secure and more to do with how will they deal when the shit does hit the fan.Report

    • Avatar Remo in reply to Remo
      Ignored
      says:

      Again, sorry for derailing. Its just that the bit that ‘you should never be reluctant to call for a ride home’ really struck home with me.Report

      • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Remo
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        says:

        When you’re old enough that you can get into that sort of trouble, classic “punishments” for getting into that sort of trouble aren’t really all that effective for most kids anyway. Generally.

        If your child is the sort who gets so drunk on a Friday night that they nearly need to go to the emergency room, they’re also the sort that won’t be deterred to much by grounding (again, this is an over-generalized observation, granted – individual parents and children have their own circumstances to deal with, I’m not telling anybody how to parent, here).

        Once you hit the mid-teens you’re going to have to start taking responsibility for your own life… which means not that I’m going to come down harder on you for your screwups but that it’s kind of going to be on you to start figuring out how not to screw up. I’m disaster relief, not a nun with a yardstick who is going to slap your wrist. If you need disciplinary actions at age 15 you probably need a more disciplined framework of life, generally, not bigger punishments for screwups. I hope I don’t have too much of this problem.

        The boy might be worse, in this regard. Jack is very much a social animal, and I could easily see him deciding to just go along with someone else doing something stupid just to get along.

        Of course, all these predictive observations don’t mean anything once they start hitting puberty and their personalities start to get older. Who knows what sort of stuff I’m in for.

        You need a ride -> your friend needs a ride, hell… you see someone at a *party* that needs a ride, give me a call. I’ll come and pick them up and take them home. Always. Nobody ought to go to jail in high school for running over a pedestrian while loaded.Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Remo
      Ignored
      says:

      My relation with my parents is very clear. I deceived them for 6 years that i had dropped from college because i thought i would suffer less by hiding that fact than by saying anything.

      I had a roomie that didn’t make six years but had the same underlying circumstances.Report

  7. Avatar Mike Dwyer
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    says:

    I would also HIGHLY recommend the Gracie ‘Emplowering Women’ video series. Very good stuff.

    Report

    • Avatar bookdragon in reply to Mike Dwyer
      Ignored
      says:

      Gracie jui jitsu is a great tool. The fact that it teaches techniques from the position of being on the ground makes it one of the most effective for women, who often are under an attacker before they realize that he is an attacker.

      Otoh, learning control with these can be difficult – control both in the sense of making it work and in the sense of not harming your sparring partner. Find a good studio. Don’t just practice from the video.Report

  8. Avatar Lyle
    Ignored
    says:

    Bookdragon I hope you have had your daughters attend the martial arts training you have. In addition to providing protection, it probably changes the way you look to others. Short of a gun it should be sufficient, and know how and where to kick or gouge can be a great advantage. If possible a german shepard or doberman could be good protection thru the what big teeth you have grandma theory.Report

    • Avatar bookdragon in reply to Lyle
      Ignored
      says:

      My daughter has had some martial arts and I’ve shown her a lot of strike points to use if someone grabs, but at this age she shies from hand-to-hand. Hence, fencing lessons for now. She’s heard me explain confidence and not looking like a victim. I can hope that she absorbs some of my habits there (like ‘walking with all the subtlety of a Sherman tank’) just by example.

      We do have a big dog (80 lb greyhound) although he’s a deterrent only if you see him at distance – too much tail wagging to be a threat up close.Report

  9. Avatar Remo
    Ignored
    says:

    Also, if things get to worse, put hands in the assailant’s head and push your thumbs onto his eyes until you touch the back of his skull.

    It is not pretty, but it is something everyone should learn. It will stop virtually anyone.Report

    • Avatar bookdragon in reply to Remo
      Ignored
      says:

      It works but any squeamish or mentally unprepared to do this will likely hesitate before they can do enough damage. Hesitate too much and the attacker can strike back, and probably will, very hard.

      A better move is to brace your index and pointer fingers together and poke as hard as you can in the soft spot just above the collar bones and below the Adam’s apple. It will both close the trachea and hurts like hell.

      This has the advantage of needing only one hand and if he doesn’t just fall clutching his throat and gagging, you still get space to throw a finishing strike. If you’re standing grabbing his face slamming your knee into it works well. Otherwise, grab back of his head and smash the opposite elbow into his nose. (I know kneeing him is what most people think of, but serial rapists often know enough to wear cups).Report

  10. Avatar Michael Cain
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    says:

    That will be the number one operational principle: you can always call for a ride.

    This was one of our rules for both kids (one girl, one boy). We’ll sit down in the morning and discuss how much trouble you may be in (or not). But there’s always a ride home for you and your friends tonight. Including the friends turned out to be important at least once — our daughter and a friend needed to bail, and she told me later that knowing that calling for a ride didn’t mean leaving the friend behind mattered.Report

    • Avatar bookdragon in reply to Michael Cain
      Ignored
      says:

      That’s a good point.

      I have told my daughter she can always call for a ride. I’ve even told her about the deal my parents made with me. If I was ever curious about drugs, fine try them – they’d even give me the money to buy provided that the first time I did it was with them present so that if I had a bad reaction (I do have a history of unusual prescription reactions) they could get me to a doctor.

      I have to say it worked. I never tried anything – never had the nerve to take them up on it and couldn’t bear the idea of facing them if I tried something elsewhere and it did go wrong. 😉Report

  11. Avatar BlaiseP
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    says:

    The answer to much of this problem starts with the education of boys.Report

  12. Avatar Fnord
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    says:

    Displaying confidence, situational awareness, and self-defense training are all well and good. Stranger rapes do happen, and they make good protection against conventional violence, if nothing else. As general purpose rape-prevention tools, though, I’m not sure they’re quite on target.

    The most common perpetrator of rape is a sexual partner. There are probably things you can do to help keep your child out of an abusive relationship (sexually abusive or otherwise); keeping open lines of communication and the “you can ALWAYS call for a ride” principle do seem like they might help. But I suspect that it’s rather more complicated and difficult than making sure they know jiu-jutsu.

    After sexual partners, friends and acquaintance are the most common perpetrators, and only after that are strangers, with family members closely following strangers. So situational awareness for rape prevention is less about watching out for dark alleys and more about realizing when someone you already know (or think you know) has predatory intentions.

    The OP is actually pretty good about this, with the discussion of “default trust” and comfortable situations. But a lot of the comments seem to be falling into the “rape is stranger rape” myth that often plagues prevention discussions.Report

  13. Avatar Damon
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    says:

    As Kim said,
    1) Walk quickly. Don’t EVER look lost — look certain, even if it means having to circle the block three times before you find your apartment.
    2) The danger zone isn’t (often) dark residential streets. It’s places people can be expected to go… at the edges of the party, parking lots.
    3) If you see someone in a danger zone — head for the lights and music.
    4) Beware of ambush points. Plenty of good lit places where someoen can haul you into a dark alley in three seconds flat.

    I told this to my ex wife too and more below. She was short and small framed, thus more of an “easier victim”.

    Don’t be looking at maps.
    Don’t be looking at you damn phone!
    Situational awareness.
    Walk quickly AND head held up confidently.
    Look at people directly in the eyes.
    Carry you car keys in your hand (if nearing your car)
    Mentally have some contingencies–if attacked in the parking garage, what will I do?Report

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