In this age of "Speak Out" campaigns and preventive defenses, people often assume that rape is completely avoidable. People assume that when put in a situation where rape would be a possibility they would be able to fight their attacker away or somehow escape. As in Joyce Carol Oates" short story Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? The truth is that in many instances of rape, the victim can not resist.
In Oates" story a young, naive girl (Connie) is confronted by a man (Arnold Friend) who intends and succeeds to take her away from her home and rape her. The story has a surreal quality to it that many people upon reading have difficulty in understanding. Common occurring questions run along the lines of "Why didn't she fight?" or comments such as "I would have shot him" when the fact of the matter is many people placed in a similar position become incapable of actions of any kind. According to family practitioner Robert Finn, " A large proportion of sexual assault victims experience an involuntary paralysis during the assault [rape]"(1). He later goes on to give the numbers of these occurrences amongst childhood victims as 83% and adult victims as 75%. The lack of fight or flight from the character of Connie is completely understandable. During the final moment of the story Connie seemed completely disconnected from the world around her, "She watched herself push the door slowly open as if she were safe back somewhere in the other doorway, watching this body and this head of long hair moving out into the sunlight where Arnold Friend waited" (443). In recent times, doctors and psychologists have created a "tonic immobility scale" to measure this paralysis and disconcertion, "The scale assesses a number of aspects of the phenomenon, including feelings of paralysis, the inability to move, the inability to callout or scream, feeling cold, feelings of impending death, and feelings of detachment from oneself" (Finn 1).