Issue 7, September 2001

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Dear [[Name]],

Welcome to the September issue of the Back off newsletter and, as always, welcome to our new subscribers whose numbers continue to grow steadily each month. With our web site, now listed with many search engines we are getting hits to our site from all over the world with many of those passing through signing up for the newsletter. I guess we can now lay claim to being a truly 'international' publication!

This months feature article comes as a result of much discussion and many requests with regard to the recent spate of gang rapes that have been reported in certain areas of Sydney. Although we have covered group and gang confrontations in a previous issue I thought this was an appropriate time to re-visit this information and expand upon it. In our Q & A segment I have addressed a number of pertinent questions relating to recent court decisions and law changes in this area.

Thanks again for your ongoing support to this publication and keep sending us your questions, feedback and stories.

Thanks for your support.
Take care, your friend

'Your greatest fear should be not realising your own potential.'

In my experience the gang rape/abduction situation is potentially the most violent, life-threatening situation any girl or woman could ever be confronted with. There is no easy way to address this scenario just as there is no easy, or 100% successful way, of dealing with it. Although not common, (statistically), sadly gang rape is a product of the violent society we live in and needs to be addressed accordingly.

As with all forms of conflict the gang rape/abduction provides you with options. Which option you take and how you take it can ultimately determine the outcome of this situation.

For the purpose of the exercise let's imagine that you have found yourself in an unavoidable confrontation with a group of guys whilst walking home from a girlfriends house. You do everything right; identify the leader, communicate with him, gain a level of control and focus on getting to safety. Unfortunately when you ask what it is that he wants you are told it's not your wallet they're after but you! The leader of the gang steps towards you and says, 'see that car over there, the boys are going to take you for a little drive and have some fun.'

The alarm bells start screaming inside your head. These guys want to rape you. No negotiation, no discussion, no using your wallet to get away- just abduction and rape.
What are your options? What are you going to do? Is there anything you can do?

In this situation you have two extremely contrasting options available to you:

When you really get down to it what other options are there? Your ability to physically get out of this situation is determined by your belief in your ability to do it. This requires motivation. The greatest motivation to confront this situation and, if necessary fight your way out is to think of the consequences if you don't!

A gang is really nothing more than a group of weak individuals who feed off the perceived strength of their leader. As a group they are strong but as individuals they are cowardly and weak.

The prospect of having to physically fight your way out of a gang confrontation is a daunting one but must be compared to the likely consequences of submission. Also, the way in which you physically confront the group is paramount. Done the right way you can tap into the gang's weakest link and turn the situation to your advantage.

Having determined that submitting to this type of confrontation and offering no resistance will only lead to the gang achieving their goal, we must now focus on how to best confront them and get to safety.

This is obviously a real 'back-to-the-wall' type of situation that requires appropriate resistance. Having been informed of the gangs' intention you only have a second or two in which to make a decision. Let's presume you have decided to take the only option that offers any chance of escape. You have decided to fight back.

When faced with the prospect of fighting your way out of this situation I believe the following points greatly enhance your likelihood of succeeding:

* Any form of resistance should initially be directed at the leader of the group.
* When you flick the switch (the 'Bitch Switch') you must channel every ounce of energy, aggression, determination, and hatred toward the leader of the gang.
* By attacking the leader you immediately place doubt and hesitation in the minds of the other members. It is a myth to suggest that once the leader is confronted the others join in and support him. In my experience of dealing with group and gang confrontations on the street I can say that the opposite is in fact the case. By confronting the strongest you apply pressure to the weakest. Rather than stepping forward in support most step back in hesitation.
* If you are going to attack anybody attack the leader. His nose will smash just as easily as anybody else's will!
* This is not the time to hold back or try to talk them out of what they want to do. Your goal now is simply self-preservation. This could well be a life-threatening situation you are confronting and must be handled accordingly.
* Your focus is simply escape by whatever means necessary.
* Don't fall into the trap of believing that if you fight back it will make the situation worse. This situation can only get worse if you do nothing. The most effective time and place to confront is now. If they get you into the car they will take you to a location which is to their advantage, not yours.
* As with all the offenders we have profiled the individual members of a gang are afraid of getting caught. The majority of them probably don't even want to be involved in what is happening but are simply being influenced by one or two others and don't have 'the balls' to say no.
* By yelling, screaming, punching, kicking, kneeing, biting, and creating a scene you may provide them with the excuse they need to back off.
* Remember strong, assertive, aggressive resistance is likely to show this bunch of idiots for what they really are- a group of gutless, cowardly, weak individuals attempting to feed of the perceived strength of their leader.
* Being confronted by four or five individuals simply means you have to be four or five times more motivated to succeed.
* The focus of the individual is always clearer than that of the group, use this to your advantage.
* A gang is only as strong as its weakest link and you standing up to their leader exposes that link.
* Finally, as you read back through the preceding points ask yourself this question- in a potential gang rape/abduction situation what have you got to lose by fighting back, and what is there to gain by submitting?

In the unlikely event that a gang, whose intention is the rape and/or abduction of their victim, are in possession of a weapon or weapons your options are obviously reduced. Only the individual in the situation would be in a position to accurately gauge the likely result of offering resistance under such circumstances. I am not suggesting that resistance is futile, but rather any decision would have to be weighed up at the time with the chances of success versus that of failure, together with the inevitable outcome if you were to submit.

Thankfully in my experience it would be unusual in the extreme for a confrontation of this nature to involve a weapon. I think the reason for this is the fact that a group of guys would not usually consider it necessary to have to rely on a weapon to gain control over a female victim. I'm sure they would believe that their obvious advantage of numbers is more than enough to ensure success.

Group and gang confrontations always lead to heated debate in my seminars, and with good reason. For most people the prospect of having to confront one offender is bad enough let alone four or five. Although I fully understand peoples concerns, the fact remains that if your back is against the wall you have only two options- submit or confront. Even if the best option doesn't appear particularly comforting- it is still the best option.

Hopefully if you ever find yourself in this type of predicament it will fall into either the 'avoidable' category or at worst the 'robbery' where you are able to use your possessions in exchange for your safety. However, if god forbid you find yourself in the rape/abduction scenario you must be prepared to fight back with absolute conviction and single-minded determination.

Amongst the most inspirational stories I have relayed to me are from girls and women who have escaped from this type of situation.

Recently I spoke at a secondary school in the west of Sydney. The students had all gone through one of my seminars the previous year and had invited me back for a follow-up course. At the end of the session I was approached by a number of students who had had occasion to use some of my strategies during the twelve months since I'd last spoken to them.

One of these girls spoke of an incident she had been involved in some six months earlier. Whilst walking home from a friends place she noticed a car cruising about 20-30 meters behind her. She looked back over her shoulder to see four young guys in the car who were obviously watching her. Before she had a chance to do anything the car accelerated up alongside her, the two guys in the back jumped out, grabbed her, and started dragging her towards the rear passenger's side door.

She told me it all happened so quickly that she barely had time to think and instinct just took over. She dropped to the ground and started to scream and kick out at the two guys holding her, making it as difficult as possible for them to get her to the car. She said one thing she remembered me saying in the course was that it is a physical impossibility for two people to get one person into the back of a car unless that person submits or is knocked unconscious. She wasn't about to submit, and she was more likely to knock these guys unconscious as opposed to being knocked out herself!

Once on the ground the guys grabbed hold of her by the ankles and continued to try to get her into the car. In desperation she grabbed hold of a nearby 'No Stopping' sign and held on for her life and she continued to struggle and scream for all she was worth.

At this stage the driver of the car was getting very agitated and nervous. She could hear him yelling at his mates saying, 'it's not going to work, it's not going to work, just let her go and get in before some bastard catches us.'

Suddenly they let her go. The back door was slammed shut and the car sped off down the street.

Who knows what the intentions of that group were, all I know is that whatever their intention she beat them. The more she resisted the more nervous they became until finally the prospect of getting caught combined with their inability to make her submit led them to take off.

In one way this young girl was lucky, not because she found herself in this type of situation, but because she had the presence of mind to do the right thing and avoid being abducted and probably raped. Sadly this is not always the case.

I will always remember a seminar I conducted around 1992. A young lady approached me as I was packing up my notes at the end of the presentation. Her story was initially the same as the one I have just outlined. It was the conclusion that I remember most clearly.

This girl was also confronted by a carload of young guys, but sadly they were successful in getting her into the car. Without going into unnecessarily graphic detail, this young schoolgirl was driven to a nearby field to be repeatedly raped and beaten by the five occupants of the car. Her abduction occurred at 4. 45pm in the afternoon on a busy four lane road in the middle of a leafy Sydney suburb.

The effects of this violent, brutal sexual attack will be with this girl for life. She spoke of being too afraid to leave her house and return to school for over three months, of having to sleep in her parents bedroom with the light on, and of shaking uncontrollably every time the phone rang or there was a knock at the door.

I met with this girl six months after the attack. She told me how she was now feeling a lot stronger and rather than the attack making her afraid it was now making her feel angry. She then told me something I will always remember, and to this day continue to use as motivation when speaking to girls and woman about this topic. She said, 'I only have one wish whenever I find myself thinking about what happened to me. I wish I could wind back the clock. If I could, I would wind it right back to that afternoon and put myself back in that bus stop and wait for those bastards to come back. Then I would wait for them to try and get me into the car, and if they did I'd kill them. I'd kill every one of them.'

Sitting with this girl I had no doubt whatsoever that, if ever faced with this situation again, she would in fact be prepared to kill whoever confronted her. Sadly this motivation and determination had arrived six months too late.
The tragedy of this story is the fact that in the actual situation this young girl was so terrified and overcome by fear that she didn't offer any form of resistance to her attackers either verbally or physically. As with so many cases that I come across during the course of my seminars, it is often only with the benefit of hindsight that strategies such as those I have outlined illustrate their true value.

I hope the knowledge you have gained from this article enables you to identify the most effective strategies for gang confrontations before rather than after the event. Always remember that by responding assertively with focus and determination it is in fact more difficult for a group to get you into a car than it is for you to prevent them getting you in.

*The above excerpt is taken from the chapter on group and gang confrontations outlined in my book, 'How dangerous men think.'

FIB - There's no point in a woman attempting to fight off a group of guys who are attempting to get her into a car, it will only make the situation worse.
FACT - This situation cannot get any worse! It is a physical impossibility for two or three people to bundle a person into the back of a car unless the person submits or is knocked unconscious. The reason for this is simply that the space made available by opening the back door of a car can only accommodate one person entering at a time. Every second you spend yelling, screaming, punching and kicking is another second closer to the group/gang letting you go and taking off before they get caught.

Q. In a gang rape situation are the members of the gang charged with a more serious offence than an offender who commits the offence alone?

A. Yes. If more than one offender is involved in a rape all those involved are charged with Aggravated Sexual Assault, which carries an imprisonment term up to 20 years. A rape committed by a single offender draws a charge of Sexual Assault, which carries the lesser imprisonment term of up to 14 years. (The NSW government are currently passing an act to increase the maximum imprisonment term for gang rape to life imprisonment).

Q. Why were the sentences handed down to the three offenders recently involved in a gang rape court case in Sydney so lenient?

A. This case and the subsequent sentences handed down have caused a justifiable public out cry. Whilst not wanting to in any way support such lenient sentences for such serious crimes could I offer the following factors that I believe resulted in the judges findings. Firstly the 'statement of facts' presented to the judge had many pertinent facts omitted. This 'statement of facts' was put together, it appears, to get the offenders to plead guilty to what they had done but in doing so made no mention of the girls being 'abducted', but rather that they got into the car with the offenders willingly. Also it claimed that the girls had in fact offered to stay in the house for the night as opposed to being initially forced to do so. Whilst these details in no way justify what subsequently happened to the girls the judge can only rule on the facts presented to her, not those omitted from the statement. It now appears that the girls have strongly objected to the statement that was presented to the judge and claimed that they never approved of facts/details being removed from it. Adding to this the judge stated that the offender's sentences were reduced by 20% due to their guilty pleas. The other factors influencing the sentencing would be the relatively young age of the offenders together with the fact that none had previous criminal history relating to these types of crimes. I am in no way attempting to support the sentences that were given, but rather attempting to explain the factors that led to them.

A juvenile offender (under 18 years old) serving a sentence in a juvenile institution can be moved to an adult prison when he/she turns 18 and there is still time remaining in his/her sentence. In fact one of the offenders in the abovementioned case falls into this category and he will serve a portion of his sentence in an adult prison once he turns 18.

A man found an eagle's egg and put it the nest of a farmyard hen. The eaglet hatched with a brood of chickens and grew up with them.
All his life the eagle did what the farmyard chicks did, thinking he was a farmyard chicken. He scratched the earth for worms and insects. And he would thrash his wigs and fly a few feet into the air.
Years passed by and the eagle grew very old. One day he saw a magnificent bird above him in the cloudless sky. It glided in graceful majesty among the powerful wind currents, with scarcely a beat of its strong gold wings.
The old eagle looked up in awe "who's that?" he asked. "That's the eagle, the king of the birds", said his neighbour. "He belongs to the sky. We belong to the earth - we're chickens". So the eagle lived and died a chicken, for that's what he thought he was.

A couple more tips from 'Dan the man' to remember when you next venture out and about:
"Think long and hard before you accept a lift home from a party from a guy you don't know too well. If the guy takes you home and there are no problems, that's fine - but what if he doesn't, or when you get there he doesn't let you out? Without doubt the car can be the most difficult situation to get out of, so perhaps you're better off taking a cab."

"A lot of guys are pretty dim when it comes to knowledge of what constitutes a sexual offence, so if he gets a bit too pushy maybe let him know that you're well aware of where the line is legally. Realizing he's up against someone with a few clues may divert a potentially uncomfortable situation."

"Remember if you or one of your friends has had an offence committed against them that there is no time limit to you reporting it if that's what you decide to do."

The following letter was sent via email to the editor of Cosmopolitan magazine following on from an article I put together for them in last months issue;

Dear Cosmo,

When reading your article 'Lower your rape risk', I was reminded of something that happened to me last year and how grateful I am today. Last July I was walking home from the gym when a car full of guys stopped and tried to force me to get in, all the while telling me how they were going to rape me. However, I was lucky enough to know what to do. Brent Sanders, the author you quoted in your article, came to my high school a couple of years back to give a series of self defence talks. I remembered his advice, dropped to the ground and started screaming making it virtually impossible for these guys to get me into the car. People heard me shouting and came over, the guys got nervous and drove off. I believe the advice that Brent gave me saved my life and I can't thank him enough for that.

S.C - Sydney

Dear Brent,

Many years ago I attended a seminar you conducted whilst I was at high school, I now teach at a secondary school in Sydney, a school you recently visited to conduct the same course I did all those years ago. I spoke with the girls afterwards who all had a great time and got so much valuable information from your presentation. I just wanted to pass on to you that there have been many occasions over the past eight years when the skills you taught me have enabled me to both identify and get out of potentially dangerous situations. I remember most of what you said as if I heard it yesterday and am so pleased that you are still passing this knowledge on to young women through out Australia.

A. G - Sydney

'In life you don't have the luxury of half time. Never rest on what you've achieved, keep trying to improve, even if your at the top of what you do, take it to a higher level.'

'Be brave. Even if you're not, pretend to be. No one can tell the difference.'

'Don't waste time waiting for inspiration. Begin, and inspiration will find you.'

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