February 2, 2006
They thought it would never happen to them, just like you probably think it will never happen to you. But last year 97 women reported rape in Augusta. Chances are, where you are right now is the most dangerous place for a woman.
The number one most dangerous place in Augusta for women is in a home, where 54 rapes were reported last year. Most of them happen in the victim’s own home.
It happened to this woman. She was in her own home when she was raped.
“He was nice, he started off nice, opening up doors. A few weeks later he started being aggressive,” the woman told News 12, anonymously. “I let him in my house and we started talking. I tried to get rid of him because of his attitude toward me. I ended up getting raped and pregnant.”
April Zahner teaches rape prevention at the Rape Crisis Center. She knows this woman’s story is all too common.
“In over 80% of the cases you know the person on a first name basis or they are a good friend or acquaintance. They know something about you and you know something about him,” Zahner said.
There is safety in numbers and the best way to prevent being raped is to date in groups, the more girlfriends with you the better.
The second most dangerous place for a woman? An apartment or dorm room in Augusta. Last year 21 rapes were reported there.
Lt. Jimmy Young is with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office. He says don’t assume your building is safe because the front doors are locked.
“You may be thinking, ‘this is a secure building.’ The perpetrator may actually live in your building, may be one of your neighbors you don’t know,” Lt. Young said.
The third most dangerous place in Augusta for women is in hotels and motels. Last year there were eight rapes reported there.
Lt. Young says some of those were reported by Fort Gordon soldiers attending parties at motels on Washington Road, where half of those rapes were reported.
“There may also be many more males than females and at some point the females get taken advantage of,” Lt. Young said.
The fourth most dangerous places in Augusta for women are schools. Last year two of the three rapes reported at schools were at Richmond County public high schools. And according to crime reports, those were reported by students.
“Talking to your kids is key. Tell them what they should do when parents are not around,” Zahner said.
The fifth most dangerous place for women in Augusta is in parking lots, garages and parking decks. Last year three rapes were reported there.
And if you think you should be extra careful after dark, two of those rapes were reported in broad daylight.
When you’re in a garage or parking deck, walk in pairs or groups and never try to get to your car alone if you can help it.
Rape Crisis counselors say rape is the most underreported crime and that we can estimate the real number of rapes in Augusta is almost triple the 97 reported.
When we looked at those 97 reported rapes we were shocked to find only one was at the point of a gun and in a handful of cases, another weapon was used. The overwhelming majority of these women were simply overpowered by their attacker.
Click here to read rape crisis prevention advice.