Truth.

I don’t think I mention nearly enough just how awesome Marcella is.

At most convenience stores supervisors train new employees to cooperate with their robbers. An employee who tries to fight off a robber is likely to be fired. Losing cash or merchandise is considered more acceptable than the risk of losing a clerk’s life.

This isn’t a difficult concept for most people to understand unless the crime is kidnapping or rape. Then too many people seem to suffer from brain freeze and any cooperation becomes consent. Then fear of death or physical injury or pain suddenly becomes nothing more than excuses which allow that person to play the victim.

I believe this brain freeze comes in because it directly supports widely accepted strategies and rationalizations of those who are trying to have sex or sexual contact with someone who has not consented to that sex contact. Under this rationalization if they can get an unwilling person to cooperate then they will have gotten legal consent. Committing sex crimes in this way is in no way an accident or a misunderstanding as it gets called when the reality of rape from the victim’s perspective is undeniable.

Too often the criminal justice system seems to suffer from similar brain freeze. This can cause a real rape victim to be viewed as a false reporter when the same investigator would never think of applying this label to a convenience store clerk who was equally cooperative.

I have no doubt whatsoever that this is a big part of the reason why if you asked my ex-boyfriend (please don’t), he would say that he absolutely did not rape/sexually assault me. I don’t think that he’s the only one.

I also know that it’s a very big reason why, if I could go back in time — knowing what I know now, that what happened was in no way consent and in every way a serious crime — I would still not report. I don’t think that I’m the only one.

Thank you Marcella for yet again taking a concept that is both complex and infuriating, and explaining it so simply and rationally. Seriously folks, if you don’t read her blog, you should. Because she’s great. As Blog Overlord around these parts (I think I might keep that title), I command you to go check it out.

0 thoughts on “Truth.

  1. Mary

    That really nails it on the head. Explains why I didn’t report my ex either, which so many people don’t get. We’d been together for 2 1/2 years, who was going to believe it?

    Reply
  2. Kristen

    Rationalizing unconsented sex.

    This reminds me of something that happened when I was in high school. Think bad lifetime movie. A friend of mine was date raped by a(moderately popular)football player. (Cue cheezy music.)

    After she told me about it I confronted him and he said (this conversation I is burned in my memory and I swear to god made me afraid of men for YEARS) “She didn’t say no.” I said, “Yes, she did!” “Not really, I mean of course she said no, but that’s what they all say. But they really want it. They just think that’s what they’re supposed to say. Why else would she be there?”

    There was on a date, at the beach. In Hawaii, most dates inevitably wind up at a beach somewhere.

    I tried to convince her to go to the police (I was 16 – I no idea – I thought the universe was fair….*snort*). She never did turn him in. But I’ve always wondered about how many of them there were that said no, but didn’t really mean it.

    Rationalizations of unconsented sex. At the core, its about the failure to see women as whole and separate human beings.

    We can talk about enthusiastic consent (we should talk about enthusiastic consent, often, and loudly) but I’m not sure…I’m not sure it makes a damn bit of difference until we fix the underlying problem.

    Chicken or the egg thing I guess.

    Arg…I’m just to angry and cynical after the Dolores Carr fiasco. I need puppy hugs…or maybe a visit to see my new goddaughter – who is a whole and separate human being, goddamnit.

    Reply
  3. Sara

    I still dont understand the decision not to report.

    The men who commit these crimes are not human, they are disgusting filthy animals who need to be locked up in prison for life. I’d go further than that and actually execute them, but thats neither here nor there.

    What you have to realize is that these guys are sexual predators and will NEVER stop. There’s no such thing as a one-time sexual offender. They are sick animals and will keep doing it until one of two things happens: they are in prison, or they are dead.

    So its really not about the first victim as much as its about a lifelong pattern of continuous victims, which will surely come to pass if you decide not to press charges.

    Yes, its difficult, yes its embarrassing, yes you will be ridiculed, and yes its hard to get convictions.

    But the 100% guaranteed alternative of further victims is just so unpalatable and so dreadful we have no choice.

    Remember, these guys are like the Terminator. They wont stop, ever. They will always be looking to rape other women as long as they breathe.

    Reply
  4. Cara Post author

    Yeah, gee Sara I never thought of it that way before. Thanks so very fucking much for sharing. Just what I need is an early morning guilt trip about how it’s better for women to be branded lying whores and have their rapists be branded poor victims attacked by bitter women than to protect yourself from further pain at the hands of your rapist whose very goal it is to cause you pain.

    And there’s a big fucking difference between being embarrassed and afraid.

    Unless you’re going to apologize for being an ass, I really don’t want to hear another thing you have to say. I don’t know if you haven’t been around for the last couple weeks and therefore couldn’t take that into consideration when you were leaving that comment, but you know what, swooping in to chastise rape survivors without thinking carefully is bad enough, even if you don’t know that I’ve just spent a lot of time being called a hysterical exaggerator who wasn’t really raped. Because without checking, you didn’t know that that hadn’t happened either. So really, I’ve got absolutely no time for you. Sorry, all dried up.

    Reply
  5. Sara

    I didnt say it was better for women to be branded as liars, I said it was better to at least attempt to press charges because the consequences of NOT doing so (e.g. guaranteed future rape victims) is unfathomable.

    Like I said, these guys are animals who need to be euthanized. They are guaranteed to rape women in the future as long as they are out of prison.

    Reply
  6. Kristen

    Sara,

    You are being naive or intentionally obtuse. I’ve been to a police station with a woman (we’ll call her Amy) who was date raped (sister of a friend) and I’ve sat next to a woman who refused to report. Please keep in mind that rape is a (often) a traumatizing experience. Its hard to talk about with a sympathetic friend let alone a skeptical police officer who seems trained only in trying to debunk the victim’s story.

    Amy was 20 when she was raped on a first date. She walked to the emergency room and asked for a rape kit then she called her sister (my friend, who needed a ride). The nurse at the ER reported the rape to the police. A police officer questioned Amy at the hospital (I wasn’t in the room, so I don’t know what happened then), but refused to make a report. He said she could come down to the station if she was really intent on pressing charges but “he wasn’t going to make it easy for her.”

    He wasn’t going to make it easy. Right. She’s sitting there in a hospital gown, shaking, and crying. That was EASY.

    But Amy is a strong and stubborn woman. So after she put on the spare clothes her sister brought she asked me to drive her to the police station near campus.

    She walked in and sat for minutes while her sister and I tried to get someone’s attention. When we finally were able to get an officer to talk to her it was worse than being ignored. The officer implied that she was making it up to “punish” her boyfriend. That she didn’t want people to think she was a slut by having sex. That she just wanted the attention (including the “Did Daddy not pay enough attention to you? or Did Daddy pay too much attention to you?” line which made me want to VOMIT). Etc.

    Can you imagine what something like that would do to you if you were already in shock from an earlier trauma?

    But like I said, Amy is a stubborn, stubborn woman. She dug her heels in and demanded they take a report. After two hours of this shit they finally called in some head guy (no idea about the titles) who patted her on the shoulder and said approximately “Sweetie, you know we’re not going to press charges just because you did something you wish you hadn’t. Why don’t you go home and get some rest. You’ll be less hysterical in the morning.”

    At which point she did actually become hysterical and they basically threatened to arrest her if she didn’t leave.

    We dragged her out of there shaking, crying and screaming (in retrospect I wish we had stood our ground…but we didn’t).

    This is what you want to require of every victim. That she be responsible for every other victim. That she disregard her own emotional and physical wellbeing and take care of someone else.

    It’s so much easier to lay the responsibility on the victim. They’re easy to identify and as a society we are used to prescribing the actions of women.

    But it isn’t the victims’ fault and it isn’t their responsibility.

    The only person who can stop rape is the rapist, but your logic conveniently obviates the rapists’ responsibility for their own crime. Which makes it EASIER for rapists to get away with it.

    Calling rapists animals means that those men you don’t think are animals can’t be rapists.

    Rapists are people. Human beings. Human beings that are SOLELY responsible for their actions.

    Reply
  7. Sara

    You’re putting words in my mouth. I NEVER said its the rape victims fault for getting raped or for future rapes.

    The bottom line is that all criminals not just rapists will continue their crimes indefinitely until they are caught. Victims pressing charges is usually the only way they will ever be caught.

    Reply
  8. Kristen

    “But the 100% guaranteed alternative of further victims is just so unpalatable and so dreadful we have no choice.”

    Those are your words, not mine.

    Reply
  9. Sara

    Yeah so explain to me how that translates into: “victims are at fault for rapes”

    Those 2 statements are not even remotely similar.

    Reply
  10. Kristen

    Translation:

    “we have no choice” “there are guaranteed future victims”

    Combined with:

    “So its really not about the first victim as much as its about a lifelong pattern of continuous victims, which will surely come to pass if you decide not to press charges.”

    Translates to:

    Victims must report because unless they report there will be more victims.

    The logical conclusion of which is:

    The consequence “more victims” determined by the action of the current victim.

    Hence,

    The current victim is responsible for allowing future rapes to occur.

    Reply
  11. Lyndsay

    Wow, we need to somehow campaign the government for better police training as much as anything else. It appears rape is not a crime in the justice system.

    Reply
  12. Cara Post author

    No Sara, you didn’t say that it was better for women to be branded liars. You just stuck your fingers in your ears and ignored the fact that THAT IS WHAT HAPPENS.

    Again. Don’t. Have. The. Time.

    And thank you, Kristen. What a horrific story.

    Reply
  13. Sara

    OK, I’m going to share my own story here because its relevant. At 17 I was a victim of a date rape by my boyfriend at that time. When I was 24, I was gang-raped and pummelled by a group of 5 assholes in a park. In the 2nd crime, I was in a coma for 2 weeks and in the ICU for another month. I had to eat thru a straw.

    In both cases the police were skeptical, tried to hint that it was my fault, tried to tell me there was no crime.

    I went to court on both cases and was told that I was a liar by the defendant as well as his attorney whores.

    I know what embarrassment, humiliation, and being called a liar feels like. But when you compare those feelings to the feelings of getting raped, its no contest. Yes its hard to come forward and you will suffer if you try to press charges. But that sufffering is absolutely MINISCULE compared to the suffering of future rape victims. Standing up for whats right is very hard, but its no excuse to not do whats in your power to put these animals away.

    If I didnt stand up, who would? If not now, then when? After these guys run up 50 more rapes on their rap sheets?

    I mean really what the fuck are we talking about here? Once you are raped, its about stopping the monster from doing it again. I dont give a fuck how difficult it is, its not as “difficult” as getting raped by a repeat sexual predator.

    Reply
  14. Cara Post author

    Sara, I’m glad that you did the right thing for you. It was a brave thing to do, and it was absolutely right of you to do what you felt would most bring you peace. And I agree that there are very good reasons to report.

    That doesn’t mean your experience is the same as everyone else’s, and it’s arrogant to assume otherwise. So while you don’t “give a fuck how difficult it is,” I’m not going to let you stick around and insult other rape survivors because they didn’t take the same action as you. I’m not going to let you stick around and say that women who don’t report their rapes — and you know, this isn’t even about me anymore — didn’t do the right thing, by making the decision to protect themselves. Everything else I could have to say to your remarks, I already said here.

    And you are getting your warning. Not because I disagree with you, but because you are being insulting. Saying what you did and how you feel about the decision is different from pointing fingers at those who did differently. The former is absolutely in every way allowed. The latter is not.

    Reply
  15. MariaS

    I read this recently – it is a simple yet powerful thing to know about dealing with & supporting survivors:
    http://crisisworker.blogspot.com/2008/04/secondary-victims.html

    “I was recently in the ER with a young woman. She was with her mother and sister. She was very open to assistance and seemed to have very good support from her family. She was not interested in reporting the crime to law enforcement. She could articulate why she was making this decision . . . and had a pretty clear idea what she did want as well.

    I could see from her mother’s reactions that mom didn’t really agree. I think the mother was hoping I would have some magic words to reverse her adult daughter’s decision. There was a quiet moment when I could talk to the mom on her own. I explained that it was important that her daughter be given the opportunity to make decisions for herself . . . that the perpetrator had taken the right to make decisions away from her daughter and that she would “heal” better, faster if we could restore decision making back to her, even if we don’t agree with those decisions.”

    Reply
  16. SunlessNick

    It strikes me that this is yet another factor unique to rape. Just as victims of, say mugging, are less likely to have to field excuses for the attackers’ behaviour, there’s less censure if they don’t report it. How often is it said, “For the sake of future mugging victims, you must report your mugger?”

    Reply
  17. Pingback: Day of Blogs » 31: The Importance of Listening

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