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Avoid the 'triangle of victimization'

November 11, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Every six minutes in the United States, a woman is raped. Every day, three women are murdered. Many are the victims of someone they know. Every year, Kelly Greene takes a leap of faith, a big step forward to forget the past.

"I thought, 'Well, I need to change this day and make it my own day,' so I decided to go skydiving," said Kelly.

It's a day hard to forget: January 18, 1994. That's the day Kelly was raped.

"I could see a hand come around the corner," said Kelly. "And then he just flew around the corner and began hitting me in the head really, really hard."

For 45 minutes, Kelly was raped again and again.

"I left my front door unlocked," said Kelly. "I was doing my laundry late at night. And neither one of those is a crime, but it gave him the opportunity to commit a crime."

Pat Brown is a criminal profiler. She says Kelly did what a lot of women do.

"We are our own worst enemy when we say, 'We should have the right,' and 'Don't tell us that we can't do what we should have the right to do,' 'Don't tell us that it's our fault in any way because it's that criminal's fault,'" said Pat. "'It's his fault.' Well yes, but you made a decision to put yourself in a situation where the criminal was at."

Pat says it's important to avoid what she calls "the triangle of victimization." It includes a perpetrator, a victim and opportunity.

"If one of those pieces is missing, you can't become a victim," said Pat. "The victim can meet the perpetrator, the criminal, the psychopath, the serial killer -- she can meet him in the middle of Target with tons of people around. Nothing's going to happen -- unless she walks out into the dark parking lot, and the perpetrator follows her, and now she's isolated, she's the last car in the parking lot. Now the triangle has been finished. Now she's dead."

The five places you're most likely to complete the triangle and become a victim: college campuses, gas stations and convenience stores, ATMs, and mall parking lots. And the number one place you are most in danger: your home.

Pat says women need to know how to spot a dangerous person.

"Are they trying to control your moves? Are they trying to control your thinking?" said Pat.

Today, Kelly won't allow herself to live in fear, but she won't live in ignorance either.

"My house is Fort Knox. I keep the alarm on. If I'm in the house by myself, the alarm is on," said Kelly. "I lock the door all the time."

After her rape, Kelly created SOAR -- Speaking Out About Rape -- and she works to toughen laws. She holds an annual jump each year to help other rape survivors all over the country move forward.

"When I landed, everything in my body and in my mind had just shifted and I became very free," said Kelly. "And January 18th became a day that I looked forward to instead of dreading, because it's no longer the day I was raped. It's the day I go skydiving."

Replacing pain with purpose.

Experts say dawn and dusk are especially dangerous times of the day for women. Women may feel safe because it's light, going out alone, once again inserting themselves right in the middle of that triangle of victimization.


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