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.
Ask 10,000 men
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.
Today I came across an article telling part of a young man’s (Trey Malone) story. Not all of it, by any means; there is always so much more to a person than can fit into an article, or even a series of articles. What it details are after-effects of an unthinkable act committed against him and provided a link to his heart-wrenching and very eloquent suicide note.
I’m struck by several things as I read the story (here’s the link) and Trey Malone’s note, published in full at The Good Men Project site (link here) with his family’s permission.
The Huff Post story, while it outlined sexual assault as a contributing factor to Trey Malone’s decision to end his life and cited allegations that the college has failed to adequately respond to and address sexual assaults on their campus, and failed to provide adequate support to victims, provided only a single support resource link at the end of the article: to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. It did not provide any phone numbers or links to support resources for rape and sexual assault survivors. I do hope the oversight will be corrected.
The Malone family, in allowing the note to be published, shows incredible courage in the face of heartbreak. I would like to thank them for allowing the publication and offer my sincere condolences for their loss.
To fellow survivors trying to deal with victim blame, depression, feelings of isolation and / or shame, myself included, I would like to offer the following:
NOTHING you did, or did not do, justified having your will, your sense of safety, your sense of self, shattered and ripped away like it was. You did not “allow” it. You did not “ask for it.” The fault lies not with you. No matter what you may have been told, or how you yourself might feel, you are not weak. Having survived the physical, emotional and psychological effects so far is a sign of strength.
May we find peace, healing and continued strength.
Posted in intimate partner rape, rape
Tagged Depression, Good Men Project, Rape, Sexual Abuse, Sexual assault, Suicide note, support, surviving, Trey Malone, Victim blaming