It seems to be a matter of semantics, sometimes…. Unless you’re one of the survivors. Still, this article on Smithsonian about a study where men in six countries were asked if they had forced advances, without using the word “rape,” revealed affirmative responses from a quarter of the respondents. For only 1 in 10 of the respondents, the woman wasn’t their partner or acquaintance.
Following the link to the AP article outlines further information collected in the study:
• most respondents (70%) noted that they felt entitled to sex
• only 1/2 reported feeling guilty about what they’d done
While it is important to note that this particular study did not include the US, it did outline the problem with the general perception that rape is only committed by strangers – a criminal – jumping out of the shadows. And this is from the guys perpetrating the crimes, whether or not they realize or consider what they did a crime.
According to the National
Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 2010 Summary Report, by the CDC, National Center of Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Violence Prevention, 1 in 5 women in the US have been raped sometime in their lives. More than 1/2 were raped by an intimate partner and 40.8% by an acquaintance.
The link for this report is here
So, even in the US, rape is not the sole domain of the criminal stranger. Though, really, I’m thinking more about that 70% of respondents in the first study saying they felt entitled to sex. That seems to me to be a main contributor to the problem. Is that belief because of what I went through with Sam? Because I know he felt he was allowed to force sex with me because I was his wife? I don’t know. It most certainly plays a part in my response in reading the reports….
Providing help and support for survivors is important. However, in order to get those numbers and statistics to drop, we need to work towards countering the sense that one is entitled to sex. That idea seems pretty clear to me, even if the how-we-get-there part is not.