The Unknown Rapist
The most commonly held belief about rape is that it is perpetrated by a stranger, someone who leaps from behind a hedge upon an unsuspecting woman who is walking alone, probably at night.
We have seen already that women are most at risk from men they know, but it is also true that women can be raped by complete strangers, opportunist rapists who see a woman alone and vulnerable to attack.
In every situation we try to understand why it has happened and this is also the case where a rape by a stranger has taken place. We look for something or someone to blame – were we to blame for being alone, for being out at night, for not getting a taxi instead of the late night bus...
As women we are raised to question our behaviour and to modify it to keep ourselves safe. It’s important to remember that the only person to blame for rape is the perpetrator.
If you have been raped or sexually assaulted by a stranger you may experience a range of feelings and emotions:
- You may be afraid to go out on your own
- If the assault happened in your home, you may be unable to stay there
- You may jump at strange or unfamiliar noises
- You may not be able to sleep
- Smells or sounds associated with the assault may make you physically sick
- You may need to have someone with you all the time to make you feel safe
All of these feelings are perfectly normal. Everything that was known to you, that you believed to be normal will now be thrown into question and you may be unsure of who, or what to trust.