It made my blood sear. Yet again it comes down to search engine terms, but before I tell you what particular term prompted me to write this post, let us consider this.
In the US someone is sexually assaulted every two minutes. There are over 200,000 sexual assaults each year and 54% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police. One out of every six American women has been the victim of rape in her lifetime, either attempted or completed, yet 97% of rapists never spend one day in jail for their crime. Victims of sexual assault are three times more likely to suffer from depression and four times more likely to consider suicide.
In the UK, government statistics released in January 2013 estimated that on average 85,000 women are raped in England and Wales every year, that over 400,000 women are sexually assaulted annually, and that one in five women, aged between sixteen and fifty-nine, has experienced some form of sexual violence.
What is more, 28% of victims, especially those women who suffer the most serious sexual offences, never tell anyone about it. Only around 15% of women and girls who experience sexual violence ever report to the police.
For fear of not being believed. For fear of being blamed for what has happened to them. Because they feel ashamed and blame themselves for it.
Rape is not a topic that people find easy to talk about. This leads to the unwitting dissemination of myths and misinformation about all forms of sexual violence, oftentimes fuelled by precarious media reporting of these stories.
This is not an exhaustive list. Myths and facts about rape and sexual violence:
Myth Women get raped when alone outside, especially late at night in dark and little populated places. The best way for a woman to protect herself is to not go out alone.
Fact Only 9% of rapes are committed by strangers. The majority of women are raped in their own homes and in their work places. Why? Because women are less likely to be believed if they report it and even less likely to report in the first place. Almost 90% of rapes are committed by known men.
Myth It is mostly young women who get raped because they ‘ask for it’ through their choice of dress and how they act.
Fact Women and girls of all ages, classes, race and faith are raped. Rapists do not choose their victims based on age or physical appearance, but rather on their perceived level of vulnerability. Rape is an act of violence not sex.
Myth Women say no, but mean yes. They relax and enjoy it eventually. They secretly want to be raped.
Fact Rape is a horrific, violent and humiliating experience. No woman ever wants to be raped. Furthermore, studies have shown that most rapes also involve the use of some degree of physical force. Rapists often use the threat of killing a woman or her children to ensure both submission during and silence after the attack. There is no such thing as sex without consent; no consent equals rape.
Myth If drunk, and/or has taken drugs, and/or has a bad reputation, and/or was alone in the streets late at night, and/or wore revealing clothes, then she can’t complain about getting raped. She got what she deserved.
Fact Rapists have perfected a plethora of excuses and justifications for their crime in order to attempt to discredit the women they rape. No woman deserves to be raped or sexually assaulted. Unfortunately rape cases are frequently dominated by investigations and questioning of the woman’s character rather than an assessment of what has happened to her. Attitudes like these allow rapists to shift the responsibility for rape onto the women they raped.
Myth The woman didn’t get hurt or fight back. It wasn’t rape.
Fact Rapists often use weapons or threats of violence to intimidate women. The absence of visible evidence of violence doesn’t mean that the woman was not raped. The misconception that ‘rape is a fate worse than death’ implies that women should fight and resist throughout. When faced with rape, women make second by second decisions. The fear of aggravated violence or possible death often limits women’s resistance, but it is still rape.
What has prompted me to write on this topic again, you ask? It was something that reminded me of those myths about rape: yet another disturbing search engine term: “sexy rape in raining”. Sexy rape? Really? An oxymoron if I ever came across one.
Rape is NOT sexy!