The community will meet with city law enforcement officials today at 7 p.m. at St. James Church at Guerrero and 23rd streets to discuss the investigation into last Thursday’s rape on 24th Street.
In the meantime, we asked some experts what people can do to protect themselves.
Chelsea Dodgen, a clinical social worker at UCSF’s Trauma Recovery Center, says that a targeted woman may help or hurt her situation by talking on the phone, depending on the situation. On one hand, the person could report the crime to whoever is on the line, but the phone is itself a distraction that could allow a predator to sneak up on their victim. The best strategy might be to stay off the phone, but pretend to call someone if you feel threatened.
Headphones are a bad idea.
First and foremost, “Be mindful of your drink,” says Dodgen. Think twice before leaving your beer unattended — perhaps a reason to invite a friend to tag along. Company is the best defense, regardless of the setting or even the hour. According to CrimeMapping.com, a service by the Omega Group in cooperation with SFPD, a sexual assault occurred midday on Friday, Dec. 9, near Alabama and 22nd Street, only a day after the assault on Fair Oaks and 24th. SFPD says the two incidents are unrelated, but cannot comment on the details.
San Francisco General Hospital offers two levels of service to rape survivors. The Rape Treatment Center provides free rape kits and prophylactics, as well as medications, a staff of nurse practitioners to ensure that no one waits longer than 20 minutes, and many other services. “It’s whatever the person needs,” says Dodgen. The Trauma Recovery Center a few blocks away offers ongoing services such as short-term psychiatric therapy.
SFPD reports that in November, violent crime, the category that includes rape, was down approximately 14 percent citywide from October. In the same period, rape cases have risen by 50 percent — though this equates to only three more cases than in October. This spike may be an anomaly, since October saw a 33 percent drop from September. According to Dodgen, clinicians are clueless as to why rape reports sometimes occur in “waves.”
In the Mission District specifically, November has seen four more rapes than last month, when the SFPD received report of only one. For the year to date, 20 cases of rape have been reported — the same number as in 2010.