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Feb 19, 2013 8:31 PM by Zach Thaxton

UCCS apologizes for controversial rape defense 'to-do' list

The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs is apologizing for a list of ten tips for "What To Do If You Are Attacked," specifically in regard to a scenario where a woman could face the prospect of an imminent attempted rape.  The list appeared on a web page monitored by the university's Public Safety division.  The ten tips included items such as, "Tell your attacker that you have a disease or are menstruating" and "Vomiting or urinating may also convince the attacker to leave you alone."  Other tips, however, seem to suggest submitting to the attacker.  "If your life is in danger, passive resistance may be your best defense," says one tip.  "Understand that some actions on your part might lead to more harm," says another.

"I would say if there's anything that could potentially cause you more danger, it's not fighting back," said Amber Besse, Development Director for TESSA, an El Paso County organization dedicated to the issues of domestic violence and sexual assault.  "Fight back.  Fight back hard, fight back as much as you can, scream, yell, punch, kick," Besse said.

UCCS spokesman Tom Hutton says the list was not meant for mass distribution, but rather just for women who had completed UCCS' Rape Aggresion Defense (RAD) class back in 2006.  "It was a web page that was intended for people who had completed a very, very comprehensive self-defense class, really explaining what last resort there might be in the prevention of an assault," Hutton said.  "In hindsight, that probably never should have been posted in a public area of the web site because it could have been taken out of context."

UCCS and people in the community were startled by the list and it was quickly shared through social media.  "It doesn't really make sense," said UCCS senior Madeline Conrique.  "I've always been told to be active in fighting back and trying to get away."

Besse says regardless of any suggestions to the contrary, fighting back is always the preferred option for women facing the imminent threat of rape.  "If you're being attacked, you forfeit all shame and just do whatever you can to protect yourself," Besse said.

Hutton says UCCS regrets that the list was viewed by an unintended audience.  "We certainly apologize for the confusion that has happened," Hutton said.

Below is the list in its entirety:

What To Do If You're Attacked
1.  Be realistic about your ability to protect yourself.
2.  Your instinct may be to scream, go ahead!  It may startle your attacker and give you an opportunity to run away.
3.  Kick off your shoes if you have time and can't run in them.
4.  Don't take time to look back; just get away.
5.  If your life is in danger, passive resistance may be your best defense.
6.  Tell your attacker that you have a disease or are menstruating.
7.  Vomiting or urinating may also convince the attacker to leave you alone.
8.  Yelling, hitting, or biting may give you a chance to escape, do it!
9.  Understand that some actions on your part might lead to more harm.
10.  Remember, every emergency situation is different.  Only you can decide which action is most appropriate. 

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