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Dr. Michael
Dr. Michael, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2177
Experience:  Licensed Ph.D. Clinical Health Psychology with 30 years of experience in private practive and as a clinical psychology university professor.
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Why would I not scream if someone were trying to rape me

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Why would I not scream if someone were trying to rape me?
Hello. I believe I can be of help to you with this issue.

Screams are automatic, unlearned reactions emitted by birds and mammals (mostly) when they are in extreme danger. They represent either intense fear or distress. Fear screams appear to function as a signal to others (cry for help). Screams are also known to startle a predator into momentarily ceasing its assault, allowing an opening for the victim to escape. Ironically, screams may alert other predators, who seek to take advantage of prey already in distress; this can result in predators initiating a fight for the prey, allowing it to escape. These are the reasons we seem biologically programmed to scream. So why NOT scream?

Not screaming tends to occur when the person is startled, but not in dire life/death danger. Screaming is momentarily incompatible with what we want to do when merely 'seriously startled' and sense imminent life/death danger, which is do a "double-take" on what is happening. I suspect that when the man followed you into the bathroom and took down his pants, in your intoxicated state you where initially, more shocked and surprised, that fearful for your life in that moment. If your recall your experience, you will probably realize that an initial reaction was an internal thought , "What the the heck is he doing? Is he for real". So we don't scream if we are very quickly and instantaneously pausing to assess what is going on. You also didn't scream because once you figured it out, you then gave him firm commands that you would scream if he did not behave himself. You literally gave him a gracious way out of this situation, which was very kind of you, though perhaps not deserved. Not screaming suggests you had a fair sense of control over this fear situation.

I hope this answers your question. Please let me know if I have overlooked anything in providing this response.

"PLEASE....Show respect for your expert. If the information shared with you is helpful, confirm this by Accepting their answer and provide Feedback. Thank you!

Edited by DoctorMichael on 9/1/2010 at 5:04 PM EST
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

I do not feel I had a fair sense of control over the situation as I literally "shit my pants" when he barred me from leaving the bathroom in the first place. So if I am freightened enough to go to the bathroom in my pants, why not scream? Not only that, during the process of this man pulling his pants back up, someone came to the door and again I did not call for help but simply said "I am in here". Turned to the guy and said "Now see, hurry up I am going out." The guy did say "No let me go first and I said No" and out I went. I then went straight to my boyfriend (who happened to be the one that pushed the door) told him I needed to leave and needed to leave now.


Now, of course, my boyfriend feels that something more was going on as I did not scream and I cannot explain why I didn't...I just didn't and of course several people think that I may have some mental problem because I did not do what they would have done.

Another point I failed to bring up is that among humans, some people become literally, to shocked and frightened to scream; another pronounced fear response is to "freeze" and do nothing---we see this occurring in the animal kingdom. They are momentarily overcome with incredulity of the situation, a rush of adrenalin and are literally "caught" in the middle between "fight or flight" responses.

I think perhaps an issue you are not speaking to is your perception that it is your boyfriend whom you want to explain this to or convince. Some guys may perceive that when a woman literally "freezes" due to fear in sexual situations, they are passively accepting of or have some latent interest in the sexual advance. Freezing in sexual situations is fairly common in rape (this is probably the basis of the unfortunate characterization of women as "frigid" sexually)". Your boyfriend may be erroneously inferring that since you did not scream, perhaps you were instead, mulling over this guys' offer of sex, for a few seconds, at least, before you kicked him out of the bathroom. A parallel line of suspicious thought by some guys might be, "well how did he ever get in the bathroom in the first place if you didn't let him in"? So I'd like to ask you to comment once again----do you think that some of your concern about not screaming is based on your boyfriends superficial "skepticism" or wonderment about what "really" occurred?
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Yes. Some of my concern on wondering if there is something mentally wrong is indeed based on my boyfriends wonderment about what "really" occurred but.. there is another female that knows "of" this situation (she was not there) and she too feels that I should have screamed and seeing as how I didn't then something else must have been going on and it is based on something about the fact that I must have some kind of mental problem in that how I reacted is not normal. And yes, it does concern me to even have the thought that something might be wrong with me mentally since it was put to me by this woman "most" women would scream or do something to alert others that she was scared.
The answer to the question you ask, would MOST women scream in a likely rape situation is actually, not necessarily. In fact, a University of Florida study in 2004 found that only 66% of women who actually suffered a rape, attempted to scream, and 1/3 did not. The data are unclear regarding rates of screaming prior to the initiation of a rape, such as your situation but screaming rates are probably lower than 66%. So my guess is that your response would have most likely been the one chosen by about half of your peers, when faced with a similar circumstance.

Incidentally, here is the study----------------------

I hope this answers your question. Please let me know if I have overlooked anything in providing this response.

"PLEASE....Show respect for your expert. If the information shared with you is helpful, confirm this by Accepting their answer and provide Feedback. Thank you!

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