In 1979, according to FBI statistics, 76,000 rapes were reported nationwide. The National Center for the Prevention and Control of Rape estimates that almost 22 percent of all women will be raped sometime during their lives.
Although there is no foolproof way to protect against rape, the Fairfax County Victim Assistance Network says there are ways to reduce the risk: In Your Home
Make sure there are lights at all entrances.
Windows should be locked at all times, and first floor windows should have bars. Doors should have deadbolt locks.
Always find out who is at the door before answering. Service people should have proper identification.
When returning home at night, have your key ready before you get to the door. On the Street
Be alert and use common sense. If you are outside, walk confidently and stay in well-lighted areas.
Trust your instincts. If you think you are being followed, don't be embarrassed about looking ridiculous. Cross the street or walk down the middle of the road. Shout -- not "help" or "rape" but something that will attract the attention of passersby. Seek help at the nearest place, a store or a home.
Do not walk home the same way every day. Rape attacks are often planned in advance.
Carry a whistle wrapped around your wrist -- never your neck -- and use it when you think you should. Self-Defense
Stay calm and assess the situation. If it appears physical resistance will only make that attacker more violent, talk to him in strong and calm tones and keep eye contact. Talk about whatever you feel is appropriate -- that he is one human being picking on another. Ask him about family or friends. Remember, if you can get your attacker to see you as another person, rather than an object, you hay have a good chance of getting away.
Try to remember what the attacker look like -- coloring, height, distinguishing birth marks. If You Are Attacked
Do not wash away any evidence; that means you should not wash any part of your body, including your hands.
Call the police immediately; you also may want to call a rape crisis center, which will send a volunteer to accompany you to the hospital and through any required procedures.
The police department numbers to call in Northern Virginia:
Alexandria, 838-4444; Arlington, 558-2222; Fairfax City, 591-5511; Fairfax County, 691-2233; Falls Church, 241-5050; Vienna, 938-4900.
Rape crisis centers in Northern Virginia (all operate 24-hour hotlines to assist rape victims):
Alexandria Rape Victim Companion Program, 838-4900; Arlington County Rape Victim Companion Service, 558-2048; Fairfax County Victim Assistance Network, 360-7273.