Most women recognize that even the most thorough preparation cannot prevent every eventuality. Yet victims of assault say that some training might have helped them make more informed decisions, or at least live with the outcome more easily. A correspondent for a major U.S. newspaper says that for some time she needlessly blamed herself for her rape by a Russian paramilitary policeman. How, she asked herself, had she not anticipated that he would follow her back to the hotel after an interview and force himself into the room? She believes that training “would have relieved me of the guilt that I had done the wrong thing.”

Judith Matloff is a contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review. She is a veteran foreign correspondent, who teaches a course on conflict reporting at Columbia, and is the author of Fragments of a Forgotten War and Home Girl.