Who’s to Blame? – Not the victim!
I have the absolute right to walk down the street with $20 bills hanging out of every pocket. Regardless of how imprudent that action may be, NO ONE has the right to take them from me – or to harm me in that attempt. If someone succeeded in taking my money, I would call the police. In doing so, I would expect that they would make every effort to seek justice on my behalf. I would not expect the police or court systems or society to perseverate on how I contributed to my victimization.
“Well, Ms. Doe, you say he’s taken money from you. Did you tell him to stop taking your money? How many times did you tell him to stop taking the money? And what was your tone of voice when you made that request?”
“Now, Ms. Doe, is there anything you might have done that would have indicated to him that you wanted him to take the money? Do you have a history of giving money away – to charities, churches, friends, or people living on the streets? Hmmm – you have. So, knowing that you frequently gave money away, he could have thought that you consented to him taking your money, because you’ve freely given it away in the past?”
“So, Ms. Doe, we will not be able to recover your money, restore your safety, or bring any type of justice. You see we’ve found the responsible person – a good person, from a good family – who made well … a mistake. We can’t see ruining a life because of this misunderstanding. After all, you were the one walking down the street with your $20’s in plain view, and you’ve had a history of giving them away. Do you see how he could have misunderstood?”
With heavy hearts, we’ve watched and listened as the tragic rape of a 16 year-old child became the leading story in every news market – large and small. We’ve heard reports of the promising lives and promising football careers shattered by “the verdict.” I’ve got news for you. Their lives were shattered when they made the decision to rape a girl. The accused – and now convicted – were portrayed as the tragic figures. Reporters, looking for their emotional hook, described them breaking down after the verdict. Their tears were for themselves and their lives – not for their victim. Imagine that a “not guilty verdict” had been rendered by the judge. Would we have seen those same tears? … those same responses? I may be jaded, but I’m picturing high-fives and broad smiles.
If reporters needed their sorrow and emotion fix, they could have interspersed their factual commentary with rape survivors’ stories – accounts of how difficult it is to survive sexual assault – statistics about how many sexual assault survivors attempt suicide and how many succeed. They could keep the victim anonymous and at the center of their coverage by educating and informing the public about the “victim” experience. Reporters could have offered insights from the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACES) – to encourage victims to seek help and support to potentially mitigate the tragic repercussions.
Young woman – you are strong and you will survive. We send you thoughts of healing, safety, and peace. We remember you and that your life is the one at the center – and for a time shattered.
Rape is common worldwide, with relatively similar rates of incidence across countries, with 19%-28% of college women reporting rape or attempted rape in several countries. In many countries, survivors are treated far worse than in the U.S. (6)
These statistics are from www.oneinfourusa.org
How Often Does Rape Happen to Women?
- · One in Four college women report surviving rape (15 percent) or attempted rape (12 percent) since their fourteenth birthday. (1)
- · In a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease control of 5,000 college students at over 100 colleges, 20% of women answered “yes” to the question “In your lifetime have you been forced to submit to sexual intercourse against your will?” Thus, one in five college women has been raped at some point in her lifetime. (2)
- · In a typical academic year, 3% of college women report surviving rape or attempted rape. This does not include the summer, when many more rapes occur. (3)
- · In the year 2000, 246,000 women survived rape and sexual assault. This computes to 28 women every hour. (4)
- · A survey of high school students found that one in five had experienced forced sex (rape). Half of these girls told no one about the incident. (5)
|Who are the Survivors?
Circumstances of Rape
What Happens After the Rape?