The Crime of Rape : ‘Essentially, It Took My Life,’ Says Woman Who Works to Help Others to Recover From Attacks

Times Staff Writer

Before that night--before she was robbed and raped--Judith Stock was happy being “a conventional woman.”

She worked as a cocktail waitress. She was happily married and the mother of a 3-year-old girl.

In a sudden, dramatic episode her life changed forever. Her relationship with her husband and daughter changed, albeit not for the worse.

“Not bad ,” she said with a sigh, “just different.”


Some would call it a loss of innocence, a 3-year-old--now a 7-year-old--having to “grow up fast, not getting to be . . . a child.”

In rape’s aftermath, her daughter was a paragon of strength and resilience. She was a comforter, a consoler who seemed to understand her mother’s pain. Stock said having a husband and child helped immeasurably in recovery.

Nevertheless, husbands are victims too.

“There’s no place for guys to go,” she said. “The biggest victims aside from the women raped are the spouses. Fifty percent of the marriages (of rape victims) break up in the first year (after the crime). Thirty-five percent break up over five years. The victim usually undergoes distinct behavior changes. We become not so much fearful as aggressive. I was a passive person before. I’m not anymore.”


Stock and her husband share a ranch home, a daughter who has had an early introduction to the ways of the world, and a stable of Arabian horses--her greatest joy beyond helping victims like herself.

“You’re not looking at broken, shattered people,” she said of such women. “One of the best healing techniques is working with other victims.”

They have in common shattered illusions. Life is no longer so simple. “And the hardest thing to get back is excitement,” she said. “Excitement and joy.”

They’re also dubious of the country’s legal system, which Stock says “makes every effort to have you crucified.” Her feelings about “justice” changed radically. Worst of all, she says, a part of her soul died, having been slain in a brutal attack.


For those who have difficulty seeing rape as a crime of violence--the rate of conviction is alarmingly low--consider that Judith Stock, 31, was abducted at knifepoint and held hostage for hours.

Her attacker was a frequent offender, whose had served time for sex-crime convictions. He had been given a dishonorable discharge from the military for criminal violations. His conviction in her case was overturned in appeals court and “depublished” (stricken) from the records.

Largely through her efforts, he was retried and again convicted. The same appeals court has upheld the second conviction.

It was all part of the process called rape.


“Essentially it took my life,” she said. “It will never be the same again. With rape there is no mourning space, no funeral, nothing. You just don’t have that buffer of space you’re automatically entitled to when you lose somebody. Trouble was, I lost me .”

The Judith Stock of today is a far different person from the one who drove out of the parking lot of a restaurant on Jan. 3, 1982 (the date the rape occurred).

In many ways she is stronger. Not bad, she might joke, just different. Her friends tell her she pulled off the ultimate in the character test of Life--she didn’t just live through adversity, she made it work for her and a court docket full of others.

She counsels rape victims, coaches them how to behave in the glare of a courtroom, and still has time to own and operate a self-defense rape-prevention martial arts business.


This is Rape Awareness Week in San Diego. The week is sponsored by the Rape Crisis Center of the Center for Women’s Studies and Services. A prime focus of the week is the series of rapes in Santee over the last few years.

In community efforts designed to educate Santee women about the realness of rape--the closeness to their neighborhoods--and the pattern of a serial offender, Stock has been a ubiquitous guest speaker. In the four years since her own trauma, she has co-founded (with martial arts guru George Williams of Lakeside) Full Spectrum Defense Training Inc., which is based in Alpine.

Full Spectrum attempts to provide answers to such questions as, “How would you deal with a masked attacker suddenly grabbing you from behind?” The reason such answers demand physical response, Stock said, is that 73% of would-be victims who use self-defense are “successful,” meaning they lower “rape” to the category of “attempted rape.”

Full Spectrum also provides other figures, which emanate from the U.S. Department of Justice and a study it conducted a year ago:


- Only half of all rapes are reported to police. (Groups such as Stock’s are hoping to change that, thinking it helps victims to see a rapist prosecuted and convicted.)

- Two-thirds of all rapes occur between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. (Stock’s occurred in the wee hours, which police say is a prime time.)

- One-third of all rapes occur at victims’ homes, while more than half occur outdoors in parks or on streets. (Stock’s occurred in the home of the rapist, a fact that police say makes it a miracle she’s even alive. Many victims taken to rapists’ homes end up murdered.)

- Sixteen- to 24-year-old white females are two to three times more likely to be raped.


- A woman is twice as likely to be raped by a stranger. (Controversial. Many women’s groups, such as the Center for Women’s Studies and Services, cite a growing number of “date and acquaintance” rapes, even marital rapes. Date and acquaintance rape is a target of Rape Awareness Week.)

Joyce Faidley, director of education for the Center for Women’s Studies and Services, says statistics themselves are useful in arming women with the kind of information needed in reducing rape.

Part of her organization’s efforts in Santee (where the serial rapist has not been caught) is papering doorknobs with flyers reminding women of the danger of rape in the Pepper Drive area of El Cajon and Santee, where almost all of the crimes have occurred. A spokesman at the Santee sheriff’s substation attributed six of the rapes to the serial rapist and believes that three in El Cajon can be linked to him.

The flyers advise good locks for doors and windows; tell women not to open a door to strangers even during the day; warn against opening a door to someone they recognize but aren’t expecting; urge women to check the identification cards of repairmen, and recommend a free security check by the San Diego Police Department (236-6821).


Among the week’s activities is a seminar, “Justice for Rape Victims,” which will discuss the problems victims can expect in court. Guest speakers include Frank Zellmer, sex crimes detective for the San Diego Police Department, and Judith Rowland, author of “The Ultimate Violation.” It will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at Western State Law School in San Diego.

Also included is Rape Walk III (the door-to-door effort), meeting at the Santee Sheriff Substation (8811 Cuyamaca Road) at 2 p.m. Sunday, the final day of Rape Awareness Week.

Cynthia Bernee, director of the Rape Crisis Center, says statistics make women aware but generally tell a slipshod story of the progress in stopping rape. She reports that 665 sexual assaults were recorded in San Diego last year. Forty-three were prosecuted. Out of that figure came 19 convictions (a paltry 2.8% of the original number reported).

Rape is difficult to prosecute and investigate, Bernee said. “A lot of flexibility and ambiguity” is exploited by defense lawyers, she said, in trying to damage credibility of victims and witnesses.


“A lot of women don’t even tell of date or acquaintance rape,” she said. “Many women blame only themselves. They ask questions, like, ‘What did I do to invite such a thing?’ It’s women’s attitudes we hope to change as much as anything.”

Judith Stock had her attitude readjusted the worst way possible.

“There is no normal (in rape’s aftermath),” she said. Among her most buoyant allies in the course of investigation was an El Cajon police detective who happened to be a Vietnam veteran.

“He understood Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome and my problem perfectly,” she said, firmly believing the two are related. “He understood that for a rape victim your life never really reverts to normal. You have to build anew, from the start.”


Stock is a thin woman with straw-colored hair and a face that seems hardened from the years, much as her attitudes has. She has learned a new definition of trust, a new reverence for wariness.

She believes fear is useful in helping a woman stop rape--especially her own. To walk a fine line between fear and paranoia is, she said, the hardest part.

Stock spends much of her days and nights as an eager activist (the biggest change in her life, post-rape). She lectures women on self-defense and psychological fallout; lectures listeners in the public at large on her perception of the too-soft policies of California Chief Justice Rose Elizabeth Bird, whose ouster she avidly seeks, and battles her own case, which remains, four weary years later, active in appeal.

Around 3 a.m. on the morning of Jan. 3, 1982, according to Stock, she finished her shift as a cocktail waitress at a Mexican restaurant in La Mesa. She sipped a glass of Grand Marnier with co-workers, got in her car and headed home. She was tired, but her mood was good. She was “up” about the year ahead.


She noticed almost right away in her rear-view mirror the headlights of a bright yellow sports car following closely. The car seemed to be stalking hers, playing cat and mouse from fender to bumper, lane to lane. Miles later, eastbound on a shadowy Interstate 8, the man driving the yellow car appeared to be eager to get her attention. He rolled down the window on the passenger side and yelled out that one of her wheels was coming off.

As only fate could order it, Stock was not driving her usual car. She had borrowed a used vehicle--a battered Nova--from her husband, while hers was being repaired. The car was shaking almost uncontrollably, a metaphor for the roller-coaster heartbeat emotions Stock felt in being pursued.

Partly against better judgment but worried that a wheel was coming off, she stopped on the shoulder of the freeway, near the El Cajon Boulevard exit. The sports car appeared to race on ahead.

She was out of her car, inspecting wheels that were clearly in place. Suddenly, the yellow car lurched toward hers, rapidly in reverse on the freeway’s shoulder. The young man was out, pointing at the left rear wheel of her car, yelling, “No, look--it’s that one.”


She knelt down. Grabbing her neck, he jammed a knife blade against her throat. He ordered her not to scream, not to struggle. He told her to lie on the seat of his car, next to him. Throughout the nerve-wrenching ride that followed, the knife blade was pressed firmly against her leg.

He drove to his place in Southeast San Diego, to an apartment complex she remembered in detail (aiding greatly in the man’s arrest). She was kept in his home for hours; twice she was raped. She convinced him that a car abandoned on a freeway could result in a ticket or a towed vehicle. He wouldn’t want to tip off police to foul play, would he? If her husband called police, he wouldn’t want the car as evidence that she had been kidnaped, would he? In the “mind game” a rape victim often plays to avoid being killed, Stock somehow convinced him she needed a ride back. After all, she said, it would benefit him .

She repeatedly tells her story, hoping to benefit women trying to prevent rape. She urges them to avoid the kind of sociopathic ruse that had her stopping on the freeway.

She also hopes to persuade them that by fighting back, at least psychologically, women heighten their chances of preventing a rape or recovering from one. Recent studies indicate that women who “beg, plead and cry” often suffer greater degrees of Post-Rape Syndrome; they feel bad about themselves.


Stock also disputes the notion, once championed by law enforcement, that a woman should lie back and avoid resistance.

No resisting” is out of the question, she said--a life is in danger. The only time such a strategy might be effective, she said, is in dealing with “a total psycho,” a situation where the life of the victim is gravely in danger.

In 1982, Stock and the State of California won a conviction against her attacker. He was sentenced to 27 years in prison. In 1984, the conviction was overturned by the 4th District Court of Appeal. She blames a bizarre technicality. Another of the suspect’s victims was summoned to testify. The appellate court apparently felt that she weakened, or diluted, the otherwise weighty merits of Stock’s case. A retrial--and another conviction--resulted. Just last week, the same appellate court affirmed the second conviction.

Stock was pleased yet troubled that her attacker has even more chances for appeal. During the wait, he remains behind bars, as attorneys for the state, and the judge, have “strongly” advised.