Why are women hiding?

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

The Facts
It’s simple. Women don’t want to think about sexual assault. It’s almost like enduring a summer in Arizona. Go from your air conditioned home to your air conditioned car to your air conditioned office and try to pretend it’s not 115 degrees. Women would prefer to just tiptoe around the subject and never look at it. It seems best out of sight out of mind, but you would think that since a sexual assault occurs every 5 hours and 40 minutes in Arizona, and approximately every two minutes in the US, women would want to know how to stay safe!

The Victims
First, we have to remember that sexual assault is not about sex. It is about assault and control. So women need to stop thinking that it could never happen to them. One in four women are attacked in their lifetime in the US, and the statistics don’t stop there.

  • Rape is rarely the random attack that you see in the movies. 73% of sexual assaults are perpetrated by a non-stranger.
  • According to the AZ Crime Trends: A System in Review 2011, in 2010 the occurrence of rape in Arizona was at its highest in a decade. All other crime rates in Arizona have actually decreased.
  • 44% of victims are under the age of 18.
  • Girls between the ages of 16-19 are four times more likely than the general population to be victims of sexual assault.
  • Women and girls 12-34 years of age are at the highest risk
  • Among high school students, 8.2% of Freshman, 8.7% of Sophomores, 10.2% of Juniors and 11.7% of Seniors report that they have been physically forced to have sexual intercourse against their will. This includes not just standard public high school students but also charter school students.
  • In 2011, there were 1,653 rapes reported to law enforcement, of which 1,489 were completed rapes and 164 were attempted rapes.
  • That means only 10% of the victims escaped.

Remember all of these statistics and let them sink in. Only about 54% of rapes are actually reported, so the above information is based on approximately half of the actual assaults occurring. How do you think the unreported rapes would affect the statistics above?

The Answer
There is no perfect answer or cure for this epidemic, but there are some things that can be done to increase a woman’s odds of escaping a possible attack.

The founder of Moxie Up, Heather Hamel, says that women need to educate themselves to not be victims. They need to help all of their sisters, friends, daughters and mothers to do the same. Statistics say that an attacker will break off his attack 50% of the time if the intended victim shows resistance. At the same time, women need to know how to resist effectively, which is why Heather created Moxie Up. Her campaign seeks to help women become confident and secure. “My goal is to diminish the number of potential victims in Phoenix. If attackers continue to run into women who won’t allow it, maybe they’ll give up for some easier hunting grounds outside of Arizona.” Heather states.

“There are some simple things that women can do to keep ourselves safe. There are dozens of preventive measures we can take and we’ve been told them from countless sources. It all really comes down being aware.” In Hamel’s ‘Moxie Up’ free training course, she teaches three main principles:

  1. Pay attention to what is going on around you. Be aware of who or what is between you and where you want to be at all times. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted.
  2. Set your boundaries. Don’t allow someone you don’t know into your close proximity. Call it your bubble or whatever you like. Make sure that no one enters it without hearing from you. Tell them in an authoritative voice to stay back.
  3. If you are threatened you need to drop to the ground and throw a tantrum that any 3 year old would envy. Sit down, and kick, kick, kick. Sounds strange, but if an adult can’t pick up a 3 year old throwing a tantrum, an attacker will not be able to take you anywhere. This also plays on the attacker’s fear of getting caught. If anyone looks your way, they will know that you are in trouble. Most attackers will walk away and look for a more compliant victim.

Hamel urges women to get more information. Get trained, but be cautious. The majority of women’s self defense classes are nothing more than watered-down martial arts. Most of these techniques were designed with men in mind. Women cannot fight in the same manner and expect the same results--our bodies were not built for it. Moxie Up is a volunteer-based organization dedicated to educating women. In the name of Moxie Up, Heather promises to reach out to 1,000 women in the Valley and considers that a good start.

For more information about training, or if you would like to host a Moxie Up Training, you can reach Moxie Up at www.moxieupaz.com.