The first month this site existed, I wrote a post asking why there weren’t more news stories about women fighting off their would-be rapists (or other types of assailants). It must happen occasionally; so why do you never see the headline “Woman fights off attacker?” (At the time, I Google’d and Yahoo’d many versions of the phrase “woman fights off attacker/rapist” and found nothing – now that same search brings up a few stories – all dated after my initial post.)
The responses were more interesting than the article, and I recommend reading the comments from the first article and the follow-up if you want to respond to this, because we covered a lot of basic questions, including the point that no one wants to glorify fighting assailants rather than submitting. There is no right or wrong response to being attacked. It’s just that we hear so many stories of women being unable to fight back, or choosing to submit (perfectly valid) that it couldn’t hurt to have the occasional story of a different response.
I did find this news story from Denver, from November 2005 reported as “elderly woman fights off attacker”: to sum up, a man knocked on the apartment door of an elderly woman. When she opened it he tried to grab her. She screamed, and that alone was enough to scare him off.
Let’s go back over this: she screamed. He left. Yeah, sometimes that’s all it takes. But how many women are so frozen with fear from all the horror stories of assault they’ve heard that by the time it occurs to them to scream, it’s too late? How many of us would stand there thinking, “I must be misinterpreting – he can’t be intending to hurt me” until it’s too late? Does a story like this not at least plant a seed of resistance in a mind programmed to be submissive and cooperative since birth? A sense of entitlement to fight back, if you have the opportunity?
And here’s another story from December 2006 in Chicago: a man attempted to drag this woman out of her car. She locked her arm through the inside of the steering wheel and proceeded to scream and honk the horn repeatedly until he gave up and left, cautioning her to tell no one. She instead gave a really good description to police and got the man arrested within an hour.
Another story from November 2006 [since removed] depicts a San Jose woman being pulled to the ground on a jogging trail by an attacker. Sketchy details, but it says she “freed herself”, and he left.
These aren’t stories of women doing martial arts moves or using guns to protect themselves. These are situations in which a woman dealing with an unarmed attacker decides that she has a fighting chance and she’s going to take it.That’s what I was looking for when I wrote the original article.