RAPE | Disturbing Search Engine Terms

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.

Why?

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.

It is never your fault

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!

That’s that.

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39 thoughts on “RAPE | Disturbing Search Engine Terms

  1. I’m ‘liking’ not because I approve but because I’m glad you’re speaking out about it. The statistics you’ve listed are just awful… As is rape itself. And any form of sexual abuse.

    And although a very small silver lining I know, at least in the West the authorities ‘usually’ take all reports seriously.

    I am genuinely fearful for the women of countries like India…

    I’m not sure if you’ve ever come across this blog before but I have a feeling it may be something you’d wish to support?

    http://genderbytes.wordpress.com/about/

    • Thank you for the link, Sean. I’m going to look into it. These statistics terrify me every time I come across them. I couldn’t believe that search engine term. I suppose when you write on topics like these you are bound to get some strange search terms come up in the stats. Still…

  2. My ‘like’ is a thank you for writing about this difficult topic. “She deserved it” has become an insidious societal tagline that I fear it will take decades to erase 😦

    • Indeed, Sofia. Isn’t it dreadful? This is the only crime for which the victim keeps getting the blame. How many victims of murder or burglary do we ever hear accused of having deserved it?
      Thank you.

      • Well, murder and burglary are random crimes that don’t distinguish between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ victims, I mean no one asks to be robbed or killed, right? Murder and burglary are motivated by revenge, money and power, while rape…wait. Yeah. Until the Rich White Dudes decide that woman are actual people (not to minimize rapes committed against men and boys) and that maybe if men were compelled to keep their dicks in their pants if the other party says no, well, victims will continue to be shamed because it’s easier to shout down someone who has no political power than to take responsibility for controlling oneself. Gaaahhhh! This subject makes me too mad to form coherent sentences!

      • I know. It makes me see red. Bradley just shared two horrific stories about this – how others reacted when a victim confided in them. I can’t believe that anyone would think it appropriate to react that way under any circumstances, leave apart towards someone who had been humiliated and traumatised in such a violent way.
        Just dreadful.
        Very good points about the impact that general attitudes towards women have on rape cases.
        Thank you, Sofia.

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  4. Those stats are hectic Vic and in South Africa I believe they worse. I can’t express with words as to what I felt when I read this – it devastates me to my core. It is a seriously tough topic and most people would like to ignore it…

    • It’s true. It is difficult and people are uncomfortable bringing it up, but it is such a frighteningly common occurrence that it doesn’t do to ignore it. I know I am only one voice, but if this helps at least one person in some way, then it makes it worth the effort.
      Thank you.

  5. Solid post and very informative. I’m glad you have enough courage to bring up the subject. I personally know both men and women who have been raped and there is nothing sexy about it. However, the rapists seem to think so because it has to do with dominance. It’s a product of insecurity that manifests an easy pathway to deal with vulnerabilities. To me that is the cowards way out.

    • Very well put. Thank you, kbeezyisviral. I too have friends who have been raped, unfortunately they never went to the police, were too shamed of what had happened and blamed themselves for it. I think those myths and attitudes have such a damaging effect on victims. It took an immense amount of strength for them to even talk about it to their friends. I was appalled to hear that some of those intrusted thought it appropriate to ask “Were you drinking? Did you flirt?” Just… Words fail me. The only thing I wanted to know was if they were ok (relatively speaking) and if there was anything I could do.
      I think that men ought to get more support when they are raped too. It is such a traumatic experience, and unfortunately, I don’t think as much is being done to help victims as could be done.

      • It just goes to show you that people will look for any excuse to avoid the truth. I think it is much more important to make sure the person is rehabilitated and comfortable with their surroundings. Bombarding them with frivolous questions leads the person who asked to feel better in comparison. The fact that you would want to make that comparison shows how low the individuals self-esteem is and that within itself is a sad realization.

  6. Vic,

    I abhor rape with great vehemence, as does any decent person. Given that you are one with a disciplined and learned mind, I would recommend that you not use the terms “sexual assault” and “rape” synonymously. According to feminist legal interpretation, the unwanted placing of a hand on another’s bottom would constitute sexual assault. To equate this relatively trivial thing with rape serves to undermine the truly heinous nature of the latter.

    While I am also in agreement that those utterly vile persons who perpetrate rape may well seek to rationalize their crimes, I will take the unpopular but principled stand that the presumption of innocence cannot be unilaterally dispensed with, even in such cases. There must be due process, in accordance with the principles of natural or fundamental justice.

    Otherwise, we risk becoming that which we abhor.

    Are you all right?

    • Thank you, navigator. You make a good point regarding the difference between rape and sexual assault. I think rape is commonly considered to be a form – the gravest form – of sexual assault, although not all forms of sexual assaults constitute rape.
      I didn’t intend to use the terms interchangeably. I am sorry if it came across that way. I was mainly concerned with rape, but some of the statistics spoke of both.

      I agree that people should be considered innocent until proven guilty. That is not the problem. The problem is the way rape victims (the few that do actually manage to bring the perpetrator to trial) are subsequently victimised in court. I do not think that a woman’s or man’s character has anything to do with the crime committed against them. I’ve never heard of someone who had been burgled having to defend their character. When it comes to physical assault that is not of a sexual nature, the victim never has their past brought under scrutiny to see whether they might’ve been responsible for being attacked in the first place. No murder victim is ever regarded as responsible for what happened to them. So this is what I was trying to get across.
      Seeing that search engine term in my stats upset me and this was my way of thinking it through.
      Thank you.

      • Vic,

        This gets into areas that are obviously quite sensitive, and which I need to further consider before commenting much further. But I will agree without reservation that it is terrible when an innocent rape victim is subjected to such calumny. And I do not mean to imply that there are deserving victims, either, obviously.

  7. One of my closest friends was raped by her grandfather when she was twelve. The help she received from her parents was a slap across the face for telling lies. This was despite the fact that she was bleeding.

    Another friend was bombarded by the “you asked for it” because of how she was dressed.

    I think in both these cases the victims were more devastated by the responses they received rather than the act itself.

    Very sick

    • That is terrible, Bradley. This is in part why I wrote this post. I cannot understand how people can react in the way you described towards someone who has been violated in that way.
      Thank you for sharing these stories. I am saddened by them, but it confirms how important it is not to keep the subject under wraps, however difficult it may be to speak of it.

  8. Strong, powerful, and IMPORTANT piece Vic. Thanks for putting this out there for everyone to see. Rape is an horrific crime. I wish more women came forward, but with the stats you just identified, it is scarily, and horrendously obvious why they don’t. I wish it were different.

    • Thank you, JMC. It is a terrible state of affairs, and too often left undiscussed due to the sensitive nature of the topic. In the big scheme of things, this piece is only a droplet, but if enough of us add to it – one droplet at a time – then perhaps there will come a time when survivors of rape won’t stay silent and will feel less alone in their plight.

      >

  9. Well done as always, Vic! I’m so happy to read this here and you spreading the word. I’ve counseled a handful of women (who we actually like to call, “Survivors” of sexual abuse — it very much helps their mindset to cope rather than being labeled as victims) and every story is a hard story to hear whatever the circumstances. Too many people (especially the women) believe these myths as factual, and it sure is hard to pass along the message.

    • Thank you, love o’clock. You are so right, survivors is a much better way to think of women who have been through this and are trying to overcome it and move on. I’ll keep this in mind whenever I write on the topic again. Warm regards, Vic

      >

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  11. The percentages and research on this never ceases to amaze me. I know someone pretty close to me that has experienced sexual abuse, and she won’t tell anyone, she refuses. She’s worried that people will look at her differently, and that NOTHING will ever be the same with ANYONE she knows.
    My friends read fanfiction, and there’s so many rape stories out there…and I will NEVER be able to read those, not quite sure how people stomach writing them to be honest. Anyway, great post, very eye opening. 🙂

    • Thank you, brecore. The way your friend feels about it is very much the feeling most (if not all) survivors of rape have. They believe themselves to be tainted by what happened. It is a very difficult mindset to get out of. Thank you for sharing. Warm regards, Vic

      >

  12. Powerful peice Vic… it is dreadful and disheartening that many people’s attitudes are so far away from the facts of the matter… Well done for speaking out loudly and clearly on what can be a sensitive subject.

    • Thank you, Maggie. It is unfortunate too that survivors of rape believe those myths too, even when faced with the reality of their experience. They are so engrained in our minds that it is a difficult pattern of thought to change, and I hope to contribute to that change, even if it is in this small way.

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