First in a series on rape in Houston
By Linda Cryer
This column resulted, from numerous requests for information on the criminal
circumstances involved in rape in the
Houston community. This first section is
a factual description of rape occurrence
in September, 1979, based on Houston
Police Department offense reports. In
subsequent months, I will describe specific rapes that have occurred in Houston, in
an attempt to acquaint Breakthrough
readers with realistic crime circumstances.
I hope that by reading this column women will be more aware that anyone can
be a rape victim, examine their own responses as to how they would handle a
rape confrontation, and involve themselves
in a community advocacy to eliminate
In September, 1979, there were approximately 102 completed rapes and 20
attempted rapes, 48% of them occurring
in five police districts.
The majority of victims are robbed as
well as raped and usually left to fend for
themselves after the event, frequently in
an unfamiliar location without their purse
or even their clothes. Occasionally, a
woman has been raped by a passing stranger from whom she sought help after the
first rape. One woman, who was walking
outside, was confronted by three men in
Dr. Linda Cryer is administrator of the
City of Houston's Rape Treatment,
Detection and Prevention Program.
a car who asked if she wanted a ride.
When she refused, they forced her into
their car and hit her on her face and head.
One man checked into a motel while the
other two guarded the victim in the car.
Once inside the motel room, each of the
assailants raped her and continued hitting
and choking her. When it was over, the
men offered her a ride in their car which
she refused. She was eventually able to locate help and receive treatment. This type
of rape occurs quite frequently.
Sixty percent of the rapes occurred
from 8:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m.; the most
common time was midnight involving
11% of the reported incidence. While
there was a relatively even distribution
by days of the week, 59% of the rapes
occurred between Friday and Sunday.
Location Where Victim First Approached
In looking at sites where the rape
victim was first approached, the following
represents a percentage breakdown of
locations of the victim's first encounter
with the rapist: 35% own home, 22%
walking, 13% parking lot, 9% waiting for
the bus, 4% nightclub, 2% either on the
job, at the home of a friend, or in a
Location by Site
The percentage breakdown of the
actual location of the rape event was as
follows: %31% victim's own home (67%
assailant broke into home, 23% victim
opened door, 10% victim left door open),
26% automobile, 19% open space, 13%
assailant's home, 4% hotel/motel, 7%
Prior Relationship Between Victim and
Regarding the prior relationship
between the victim and assailant, 78%
were strangers, 15% were acquaintances,
2% were immediate family members,
and 1% was a distant relative.
Use of Weapon
In 60% of the completed rapes, the
assailant confronted the victim with a
gun, knife or some other type of weapon.
In 70% of the attempted rapes, the assailant used no weapon.
Circumstances of Rape Event
During the rape, 69% of the victims
experienced vaginal penetration, 8% experienced oral penetration, 13% were
required to perform fellatio, 2% experienced cunnilingus, and 1% experienced an
object as a penetrating device.
Injuries the victims experienced during
the rape are not always recorded on the
offense reports. However, of the offense
reports reviewed, the following represents an attempt to describe the type of
injuries sustained: 72% did not sustain
discernible physical injuries, Inexperienced head or neck injuries, 4% arm or
leg injuries, 2% genital injuries, 1% upper
torso injuries. In the attempted rapes,
25% of the victims sustained some type
In comparing the responses of victims
who experienced an attempted rape with
victims who experienced a completed
rape, the statistics break down as follows:
Attempted Rapes—35% screamed, 33%
physically resisted, 18% verbally resisted,
9% either used a weapon to resist, faked
a faint or a heart attack.
Completed Rapes-48% feigned consent to escape harm, 18% physically
resisted, 18% verbally resisted, 8%
submitted to escape harm, 6% screamed.
The youngest victim was three years
old and the oldest victim was 68 years old.
The following represents a percentage
breakdown of the ages of both the victim
0-16 years - 9% 0-16 years - 6%
17-25 years - 54% 17-25 years - 43%
26 - 35 years - 27% 26 - 35 years - 33%
36-50 years- 5% 36 - 50 years - 6%
51-68 years - 5% Unknown - 12%
Racially, 45^ of the victims were
white, 45% were black and 10% were
Mexican-American. Victims reported that
65% of the assailants were black, 20%
were white and 12% were Mexican-
Location by Police Districts
District 6—North Houston, mainly
outside the Loop between E. Hardy and
roughly White Oak Bayou; includes area
inside the Loop between Nicholson and
Maury north of E. 11th.
District 15-South of Brays Bayou and
the Southside Place city to the Houston
city limits; between Cullen Boulevard
and a jagged perimeter comprised of S.
Post Oak at Main, Hiram Clarke at Main
and Almeda at Orem.
District id—Includes the University of
Houston, parts of Montrose, Hermann
Park and Riverside, south of downtown
to Brays Bayou. This district is bounded
on the west by S. Main to Bissonnet and
extends to Kirby Drive; on the east by
District 17—Includes River Oaks and
Montrose areas. This district extends
from downtown and S. Main on the east
to the River Oaks Country Club on the
west and from Buffalo Bayou on the
north to roughly Bissonnet on the south.
District 18—Includes parts of the
Memorial area and southwest Houston,
south of Buffalo Bayou to Westpark and
Alief Road, west of Memorial Park and
Kirby to Houston city limits.
Rationale for Describing Rape Occurrence by Police Districts
The Houston Police Department protects the identity of victim/witnesses by
deleting the victim's identity as well as
her residence, and the specific geographic
location of the rape event on their offense reports sent to me. Therefore, I
only have access to the rape incidence by
the broader geographic locations in police
districts. Staff at the police department
state, however, that if they detect through
victim reporting an offender with distinctive behaviors, appearance, or dress, they
will share this information with me. This
will allow Breakthrough to alert its readers to enhance community vigilance and
to assist law enforcement in apprehension.