Fighting back may avert rape, new study finds

November 29, 1993|By Bill Laitner | Bill Laitner,Knight-Ridder Newspapers

Women who are forceful about resisting a would-be rapist are less likely to be raped, and no more likely to be injured, than those who resist weakly or not at all, according to a new study.

The study, published in the November issue of the American Journal of Public Health, used a year-long sample of sexual assaults reported to police in Omaha, Neb., during the second half of 1988 and first half of 1989.

Of the 150 women in the sample, 65 percent were raped and the remaining 35 percent avoided rape. Researchers reported these findings:

* Of women who used physical resistance, 54.5 percent avoided rape, while 45.5 percent did not.

* Of women who used "forceful verbal resistance," 50 percent avoided rape, 50 percent did not.

* Of women who tried to escape, 45 percent avoided rape, 55 did not.

* Of women who did not resist, 6.5 percent avoided rape, 93.5 percent were raped.

The researchers described physical resistance as struggling, pushing, striking, biting or using a weapon. They defined "forceful verbal resistance" as screaming or yelling, and "nonforceful verbal resistance" as pleading, crying and "assertively refusing."

The study's authors, at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, said about one of every two women in the study was injured, regardless of how or whether she resisted.

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