There are many approaches to rape prevention. One approach has been to warn women not to go out alone at night, talk to strangers, or wear certain types of clothing. Unfortunately, such advice limits women's freedom and is ineffective because it is based on the myth that most rapists are strangers.
Another approach involves self-defense training. This approach has the advantage of helping women defend themselves while not limiting their freedom. Active resistance strategies such as physically fighting, yelling, screaming, and fleeing are generally more effective in resisting rape attempts than more passive strategies such as begging, pleading, or crying; furthermore, these active strategies do not seem to increase a woman's chance of being injured (Zoucha-Jensen and Coyne 1993).
Particularly on college campuses in the United States, attempts have been made to create educational rape prevention programs to change attitudes that seem to contribute to rape among young adults. There is some evidence that such programs may effectively reduce students' beliefs in myths about rape (e.g., Pinzone-Glover, Gidycz, and Jacobs 1998). However, more research is needed to determine whether changes in attitude are maintained and to determine whether changes in attitude result in changes in rape rates among program participants.
Most important is the need to address the causes of rape. Working for gender equality and against the ideas that violence against women is sexy and that violence is a good way to solve problems could help to decrease the prevalence of rape. Both men and women can work for changes in the media, laws, and public opinion so that rape is treated as unacceptable, even when it occurs within dating or family relationships.
See also: ABORTION; CHILD ABUSE: SEXUAL ABUSE; FAMILY ROLES; GRIEF, LOSS, AND BEREAVEMENT; POSTTRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (PTSD); POWER: MARITAL RELATIONSHIPS; SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES; SPOUSE ABUSE: PREVALENCE; SPOUSE ABUSE: THEORETICAL EXPLANATIONS; SUICIDE; WAR/POLITICAL VIOLENCE
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ZOË D. PETERSON
CHARLENE L. MUEHLENHARD